It's July, and I'm sitting on my porch once again, and it feels like my corner of the world. This past weekend I went to Bangkok and did some touristy stuff, and although I expected to not like it --because I found Cairo oppressive and I had read that traffic is "apocalyptic" and extrapolated that the whole city was unpleasantly loud and congested -- I actually found it civilized and tourist-friendly. A 5:00 bus from Phang Nga got me to Bangkok at 5:00 a.m., a taxi took me to town, and a room (a double) cost 200 baht, a bit under $7. After a rest, I met up with a PiA fellow in town, and we got lost wandering in Chinatown, then walking around a major park and to her officearea; after dinner I went to Harry Potter, which I found profoundly disappointing because my expectations were too high, but I enjoyed the King's song montage that played before the film, for which everyone stood. The accompanying images extolled renewable energy. The next day, we toured the Jim Thompson house, I got a massage, and then made my way to the hostel and back to Phang Nga.
Bangkok was fun. Only one place I went was notably seedy. Lots of people saw me looking at a map, lost on Saturday, and offered to help me. Maybe that's something that would happen anywhere. But my city norms are oriented around New York. Even in D.C. it'd be more acceptable to offer unsolicited help.
I got in around 5 in the morning this Monday (a 4 day weekend for a Bhuddist holiday), and biked back to my house in the darkness- serene! - and I was relieved to be back in phang nga. It was unexpected to feel at home. But I do.
This week I've begun Thai lessons which I find very entertaining. I'm still learning the numbers and colors, unable to put together complete sentences; the main challenges are remembering the tones (there are five, and the wrong tone completely changes the meaning) and this weird u-like vowel that has no english equivalent. I simply cannot get it right. but it's only been about 3 days. It's possible I'll never get it; some things need to be learned in childhood.
I've been debating whether or not to ride the motorbike that comes with my house, and I'd been rationally weighing the pros and cons. However when I rode it to dinner tonight, I realized that I'd been neglecting the most important thing- that riding a motorcycle is TOTALLY SWEET . So that's settled.
This week, due to midterms, I've only taught 3 classes, and I have time off next week, and then I'm taking vacation time to travel with my mom, but I like teaching and the structure it provides. I'll be happy to get back to regularly scheduled programming.
I'm jamming out to Twin Sister's Bad Street- the most a dance track has grabbed me since I heard Hercules and Love Affair in fall 2009, and Within and Without's Echoes. Last week I read Peter Hessler's excellent River Town, about his two years teaching English with the Peace Corps in Fuling, China which has brought my attention to how fundamentally first world my experience has been. It's because of the internet, I think. I'm in touch with people like all the time, and periodically skyping my parents or Dan, it's not like a whole other world than life in the past 5 years. But mostly, reaching out in superficial ways to talk about movies on facebook or something, feels good at first but leaves me desiring something I can't have. It's good and bad. I probably experienced less culture shock than pre-internet volunteers, and my kids all know Taylor Swift. But my heart is all over the place, and I sometimes wake up longing.
Also, Hessler reminded me of a conversation I had with Liz over crawfish and beer before I left- how great it would be if we were fantastically gifted writers. I'm good, I think, but I wonder if I could be great, and I wonder how I would get there. Listening to Tyler, the Creator all the time recently has me interested in writing some rhymes again. That dude was born in 1991.
I put some photos up on facebook.