Greetings from Thailand! We have been here for a week and a half, and are enjoying many things and learning many more.
Before I get into the things that are different, I must say that there are so many that are not. A Thai person told me yesterday that Chiang Mai is “not Thailand”. He explained that it is influenced by the west, supports a tourist economy, and is very comfortable. It is possible to live an impoverished life in this city, as well as a very rich life. You could eat at fancy restaurants all day, shop at pristine and gigantic malls, and have a really nice car.
We are definitely somewhere in the middle.
Here is Noel a few days in eating his first “phalong” meal, including a latte. Phalong is the word for white people, literally meaning “white fruit”.
Something that surprised us is it is much cheaper to eat Thai food out than cook any type of food at home. There are restaurants on every corner and food booths lining the streets serving dishes for $1. If you go to the grocery store, though, it is as expensive as the US. So we cook at home when we want phalong food. Mostly Mexican.
Here are Noel and my greatest accomplishments so far:
1. Buying a motorbike and learning to ride it carrying someone on the back, advancing to carrying lots of groceries and a big box between us.
2. Spending hours trying to call airlines and airports in various countries and eventually convincing them to send us our luggage. Noel’s box came a week late and was a little worse for wear:
Also, since he didn’t have any clothes for a week, he wore Kati’s t-shirt and a sarong call a “longi”. This outfit is tradition, but not in Thailand.
3. Attending 3 Thai lessons so far. If we think long enough, we can count to 10 in almost the proper tones and ask how much something is and say we don’t like Japanese food.
4. Socializing. We’ve mainly hung out with Katie’s Thai friends who speak English and a bunch of Phalong. There is a huge missionary community here (90% of missionaries to Thailand are in Chiang Mai. It’s nice here. What can I say?) so you could hang out with Phalong all the time if you wanted to.
Lovely Italian restaurant:
Something weird about Thailand: You can park your car out in the lot perpendicular to cars parked in the actual stalls, as long as you leave it in neutral. Then, when the people come back to their legitimately parked cars, they just push yours out of the way so they can leave. This guy just pushed the minivan back from behind his car:
Coming up next: Tomorrow we start teaching English to refugees at Thai Freedom House.