Giving Thanks for Life Abroad Part Deux

Trip Start Jul 20, 2006
Trip End May 10, 2007

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Body lotion with bleach, that's right. My unhappy, yellow pigmented hosts want whiter skin. Everything from body lotions to bath soaps contains whitening agents. I bought some lotion unknowing exactly what "whitening" on the bottle meant. As it turns out there's a hefty dose of Clorox bleach inside. Funny thing is I'm lotioning my legs with whitening agents and brushing my face with bronzer each morning to look more tan. While our lotions at home promise to give you a summer tan glow, the lotions here promise to make you look like you've been stuck in a Minnesota blizzard all winter. Will we ever be happy the way we are?

Pick a winner! Go ahead, dig up high and see what's inside. Picking your nose is socially acceptable. No tissue needed. The new theory goes that people with the extra long pinky nails are for picking your nose. Though I still have not seen anyone eat their bugers.

Let's talk about emission control or lack thereof, the clouds of black smoke coming out of mufflers is so bad that I routinely see people wearing surgical masks while driving. This is a disconcerting sight to say the least - imagine a city of people driving around on their motos with half their faces covered. I feel like I'm moving around a city of doctors in a hospital, just no where near as sterile.

Bamboo is everywhere and everything is made of bamboo, even the scaffolding used to assist in building buildings is made of bamboo. Floors, walls, ceilings...Bamboo is everywhere.

Now I know why so many of the Asian porn films showcase girls in school uniforms, even the college students must wear uniforms.

My room is a crime scene. You know when someone is murdered and the police make a chalk mark around the dead body? Well my room resembles just that. Almost nightly I draw lines around the perimeter of my room with chalk to keep the ants out. It's true I live in a crime scene filled with ants- but the chalk serves its purpose well.

The Council for National Security, Thailand's current government reported that it will be lifting Martial Law in more than half of the country's 76 provinces - conveniently for me, the CNS General Spokesperson issued a statement saying that Chiang Mai is among those provinces where Martial Law will not be lifted. Of course, I have to live in the one city where love for Thaksin, Thailand's ousted Prime Minister, is still alive and well.

I just went to pick up lunch. It's the place where my office mates go almost daily to pick up food for everyone - I hardly ever go with them and did not even know where it was until last week. Well, something tells me - I'm not going to be eating there anymore. So, I'm waiting for my food to be cooked (rice and veggies) when I see the cook put the spoon in her mouth to have a little taste test, then she puts the spoon back in the pot and continues to stir. She does this a few times over the course of preparing my meal. Now, I understand when my dad does this as he prepares food for his family, but a complete stranger - something tells me this is what I get for 75 cents off a street side food stall. But, not really cause I spent like $6 the other night on American food and had to move tables because there were mice crawling out of the wall next to me and squeaking.

I think I have bed bugs among other things. My feet currently have pink-polka-dot's, isn't that cute? And because I have so many bites I cannot shave my legs, ahh to feel like a hippie.

Speaking of which, I got a web camera and was chatting with my dad and step-mom the other night and their comment to me was "you look normal." Now, for some reason, they are always surprised when they see me abroad looking normal - as if I am going to morph into a true native with yellow skin, stick straight black hair, and brown eyes. Or, they are scared I'll put hippie dreadlocks in my hair - now there's a thought!

Last night I was having dinner and drinks with a micro-biologist and an infectious disease expert - they tell me the work here is plentiful because there is so much to study, not as much as there is in India, but Thailand sure hosts an abundant amount of interesting specimens.

I just took a whiff of my Thai menthol herbal inhaler and put Tiger Balm on my bug bites, I'm definitely getting more Thai by the minute my Thai friend just told me.

So, my Thanksgiving was memorably spicy. No dry turkey this year (that came on Sunday sans beak.) I was invited to the Director of my NGO's home where about 15 of us women cooked and dined together. My second bite of the night was an insanely spicy shrimp that burned off half my tongue and ruined the rest of my meal - I was forced to eat rice and drink coconut milk the rest of the meal. But, while my family sat around Lynn Tomalas' perfectly set, Martha Stewart like Thanksgiving table, I sat on the floor in a circle and ate with my hands. I'm beginning to think that dining room tables are over rated and I'll be hard pressed to ever have one.

Oh, a note on flip flops. I love wearing them. This inevitably drives my step-mom crazy as she cannot believe her fashion forward husband's daughter is appropriate shoe deficient. They even went so far as to lecturing me on proper foot care before I left the country and insisted on buying me foot powder (which still has not been used.) Here's the best part: I had to wear dress pants to an important meeting the other day and I wore them with my flip flops and that was perfectly acceptable - now that's my kind of dress code!
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lisa-ashley on

Readers Write
I just read your travelogue, and it cracked me up! It's as if you were channeling Andy Rooney, even though he isn't dead yet. HI-larity!

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