It was hot. I mean just really, really hot. Thailand consists of three distinct and excruciating seasons:
1) Hot weather
2) Really hot weather
3) REALLY, REALLY HOT AND RAINY AND HOT AND SUPER HOT
Pictured above: me as a middle-aged businessman
Luckily, it's winter right now in Thailand. That means during the day the temperature drops down to a chilly 90 degrees with the nights dropping off to about 75-80.
The nights are pleasant.
The wind has been picking up lately, and it pushes in sporadically and it serves as a welcome break from the heavy heat that rises up off of the sweltering black top and concrete.
So far, I've been particularly fond of the weather. It does get a bit too hot for my taste. I have always been a bit more prone to sweating than most people I do believe, so any adventure into the city calls for an extra t-shirt (or two) to be shoved forcibly into the bottom of my backpack.
And adventures have been abundantly abound, my friends!
Just last weekend, I was asked to volunteer at an Art Walk at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center that was sponsored by my friend's internship, WEDU, an organization that promotes the equality and empowerment of women.
And THIS weekend will consist of a few friends and myself flying down to Singapore then on to Malaysia to check out the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and a couple wayward cities full of culture, history, and REAL good food.
Now something has been weighing a bit heavily on my mind as of late.
I have come to a point in my trip that my brain has created a dichotomy consisting of, in the simplest way possible, of trips that are important and those that are not.
I have become rather tired of the OH MY GOD, YOU MUST GO TO THESE PLACES IN BANGKOK, THEY'RE FAMOUS, AWESOME, AND TOTALLY WORTH YOUR TIME!!!!!!!!!
How true these excitable, belligerent people are, BUT, they don't tell you that these places are crowded, pricey, and filled with unhappy Thai people who hate dealing with tourists.
These places are very beautiful. The Grand Palace is appropriately named. A sprawling tract of land that gloriously contains ripe examples of Thai architecture.
ALL temples in Thailand are adorned with finial roofs that designate legitimate Buddhist temples.
Thai architects in the past must have been infatuated with all of the colors of the rainbow, for all historical architecture is characterized by their bright and numerous colors, particularly gold, blue, and red.
The southern islands, particularly Phuket, are beautiful examples of geographically what islands should be. Expansive beaches with mountains in the center that overlook the boundless ocean.
See? These places are great.
I can't stand the tourism. It really wears on me.
Nothing against tourists, but the Thai people just treat them differently. All of the Tuk-Tuk and taxi drivers just see them as easy money, and all of the people that work in or live near these amazing attractions view them as sort of daily inconveniences.
The atmosphere that envelopes these places tends to be unwelcoming.
I have slowly grown to dislike these places.
ESPECIALLY KAO SAN ROAD.
The hitchhiking haven of Bangkok. It has loads of awesome bars and fantastic food, but the majority of the Thai people just seem to dislike you upon first sight. The impact that drunken assholes on vacation and "free-loving" dreaded (both meant to describe their hair and their personality) hip burn outs have had on this place is almost devastating. This place is looked as a playground for certain people and that's a tragedy.
This is a place RICH with religious history, political upheaval, and inviting culture. But tourism in its most damaging and infectious form negatively affects the nationals involved and creates negative stigmas to be attached to all non-Thai people.
Fa rang is the Thai word for a "Westerner."
Fa rang has two interesting meanings.
In one context, fa rang means guava. The use of it as a term to describe Westerners comes from the fact that when you cut a guava open the insides are white, thus a term attached to Westerners.
The second is bound to a dark period in the history of humanity. Fa rang is a shortened version of the word fa rang see which is phonetic Thai for the word French. This word is rooted in the dark times of the colonial period which have greatly and undeniably affected Southeast Asia.
There is still a bit of anti-colonial and anti-Western sentiments that are felt by certain people. All for reasons that I will not expound here, but hopefully you can more than likely infer.
Now this leads me into the second category of trips I have taken.
(bad news first, right?)
These other trips that have undoubtedly left a bigger impression on me and have left me feeling more at home are the spontaneous trips that cause me to think.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to serve as an instructor at an ASEAN Camp for the Arts and English Speakers.
My role was to serve as a facilitator to help the kids with their English.
There were kids from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Thailand. It was a fantastic experience.
The coordinators took all of us out to a campus out in the Khonchonaburi province. We stayed dorm style houses for 4 days. Each day, we gathered in this spacious meeting hall and kids from every country presented dances, games, or music from their culture and then we learned them. At the end, they also showed us how to perform them.
(In case you were wondering, YES, I can belly dance and perform indigenous Filipino bird dances)
By the end of the camp, some of the kids were crying because they were so quick to get attached to all of these new friends.
Pictured above: me being....cultural?
That's a bit better...
THIS IS WHAT I'M IN LOVE WITH!
I had no idea I was going on this trip until two days before and had no idea what to expect.
We just got on a bus and they took us out and had an incredible time with great, smart people.
This is what I love and will miss most about my stay here.
Just the spontaneity of certain days that leads to extraordinary things.
That I will miss.
I will miss the daily routines I have collected here. My personality very much begs and yearns for order and routine. I am a creature of habit.
For a while, I felt very guilty that I wasn't going out everyday and discovering something new like some other people. I am pretty content with maybe walking around a bit after school or maybe going somewhere new to eat for dinner.
Recently, I have finally stopped feeling like I was "wasting time" by not going on extravagant adventures.
That's just not my personality. And I shouldn't feel like I'm "wasting time." I have just become a creature of habit in a new place! I am simply living in a new city.
Since I have never traveled so far away from home before, Bangkok was almost overly-romanticized in my head. To the point where I honestly believed this place would change my character and who I am.
THE AUDACITY OF.... well, myself.....
It's hard to accurately put into words, but, for example, I'm not someone to just walk around downtown somewhere and get lost and not worry about it.
(That did happen on my second day and it was NERVE-RACKING)
I'm glad that stuff like that happens cause I have almost always learn something from it (like getting the flu in a 20-person room hostel is just not a whole lot of fun), but I don't need to get lost everyday in order to have a life-changing epiphany.
I'm still working out exactly the feeling I have of being here, but I hope this served as a solid introduction into the somewhat boring mind of Tyler James Jones.
pictured above: "hello ladies...."
I'm sure once I'm back home, I will have all sorts of things to say.
So March 9th was my 3 month anniversary.
Over halfway done.