Last week I wrote about some of the main things I’ve gotten used to in Thailand. Here is what I have not gotten used to.
I still hate it, so I guess that means I really haven’t grown accustomed to it even though I’ve learned to live with it so there’s also an argument I have gotten used to it. Either way, I’m very happy knowing my close-of-service date (late February or March, 2013) will be just before the worst of the hot season begins. During the hot season, I can’t comfortably be in my house later than 9 a.m. There are ants everywhere. I drink water like a fish to stay hydrated. The only question the Thais seem to ask is, “Is it hot?”
The temperature doesn’t cool in the evening like in the Midwest. At least on a hot Wisconsin day, you can count on a cool evening and night – not here. The temperature drops, but not nearly as much as in the states. There isn’t much refuge in the night. As I write this, I’m very envious of my friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin as autumn approaches. I can’t wait to wear a shirt in my house and long sleeves, socks and jeans outside.
I’ve written about this before. Farang, meaning foreigner, is not a derogatory reference from the Thais, but coming from a country that frowns upon stereotyping any race or culture, I despise it. We were warned in training we’d be hearing a lot of this. It’s mostly from children who see my white skin, point and obnoxiously shout “farang!” I tolerate it the best I can with the kids, but when the adults strike, I tend to strike back. I point back and say, “kon Thai” (Thai person), but they never see the sarcasm. This is not a sarcastic culture.
This is also a culture that wasn’t taught by its mothers that it’s impolite to stare. I know this because the mothers stare at me as much as the men and children. I don’t mind when they look and smile or say hello. It’s insulting when they look as if I’m a monkey on a bicycle or a lunar eclipse and show no reaction when I stare back and say hello. This doesn’t happen anymore in my village or nearby, but still happens every time I venture out or into a small city.
“Where you go?”
I can’t go anywhere without being asked where I’m going. “Bpai nai!” they scream. Sometimes I tell them, sometimes I mutter, “none of your business,” to myself. At times they think it’s cute to use English and yell, “Where you go?!” To all the Thais who find out I know Thai, but don’t realize I’m not fluent and speak to me quickly expecting me to understand every word, I like to reply, “Technically, you should be saying ‘Where are you going’ because then you’re using proper conjunctions as well as the correct tense.”
Thailand, you don’t need to constantly know of my whereabouts.
I thought Southeast Asia was going to be quiet. I’ve been told by friends that Laos is. I’m telling you, Thailand isn’t. I feel as if I’m surrounded by frat boys. The voices, the ring tones, the advertising trucks, the funerals, the car stereos, the drunks, the dogs, the roosters, the eating, the muffler-less vehicles, the rain on the tin roof, the in-bus movie or music … if it’s not one it’s another. Thais not only like noise, but they’re very tolerable to it.
This was going to be another two-paragraph section to this blog, but it ended up being an entirely new blog. Stay tuned.