Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Christmas! Love, Thailand

It is nearly 100 degrees today.

But that doesn't mean that Bangkok isn't getting into the Christmas spirit.  Nay!  The malls are decked with boughs of holly, twenty foot firs and all the consumer goods you could dream of.  Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time, dancing and prancing in Siam Square, in the frosty air (conditioning).

But you know, it's nice to see that Thailand hasn't fallen prey to the Western consumer-driven aspect of it all...

With that said, Thailand is still going to find a way to put their stamp on the whole affair.

After all, it just wouldn't be A Very Thai Christmas without somebody dressing as sexy Mrs. Claus.

Merry Christmas!  Love, Thailand.

Friday, December 3, 2010

High Brow

Decorating my apartment is an ongoing process.  Week by week, I add a little bit more - a rug here, a lamp there.  It's really starting to come together and feel like a little home. And while I have hung a few pictures, I am always on the lookout for good, interesting art to adorn the walls. 

I want this art to tell visitors to my home something about me.  I want them to look at this art and think - Wow, she really is very cultured.  She appreciates fine art.  She must be a very interesting person with whom to spend time. 

I want this art to do all the work for me.

That's why I am going to buy this.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bangkok Box Office

I am what you might call a cinema buff, a cinephile, a connoisseur of fine films.  I have a checklist for what makes a good movie and I refer to it often.  These include a respected director, moving cinematography, intelligent script-writing, a talented ensemble cast and thoughtful use of pinwheel hats.

Which is why I have high hopes for this.

With Oscar season just around the corner, I think we might be in for a sweep this year, folks.

The Thai Tom Hanks.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Experts Are Never Wrong

I have never been one to suffer from allergies.

But if this outfit is any indication of the kind of fun allergy-sufferers are having without me...

Sign me up.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The 38

I ride the city bus home from work everyday.  It is a time to relax, unwind and see funny things.

It is a time when I am confident that I will go home, cook a healthy meal, go the gym and grade all of the papers in my bag - all while simultaneously doing yoga and cleaning my apartment.

It is a time of innocence.

And though it will set you back roughly a quarter, I assure you that this is money well-spent.

From the wooden floors...

To the plethora of fans spinning recycled air, blowing dust off the unwritten mandate that everyone on the bus, regardless of age, must be wearing a uniform of some sort.

This is the 38.

And I respect that checking the rearview mirror is important to my bus driver.

While the absence of a dashboard clearly is not.

Can't hate on the 38.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Big Knit

Like most women my age*, I love a good knit.  So you can imagine my delight upon discovering a knitting shop here in Bangkok.  Not only does it have a wide variety of yarns and sticks**, but grandmas like me can also enjoy a cup of tea and a chat, all the while plugging away on our latest masterpiece.

Sample masterpiece:

This little slice of geriatric heaven is called the Big Knit.  And it's actually quite a hip spot.  Somewhere along the line, knitting got pretty cool.  It might have been around this time that I took my first stab at it.  Living in Brooklyn.  Feeling the pressure.  

So I learned from my aunt, one summer in Vermont.  And as you can tell, I have pretty much perfected the art form.

I like the Big Knit because there is inspiration everywhere.

Some adorable.

Some downright delightful.

And some uncomfortable.

And perhaps one day I will move on from gifting family and friends with scarves full of holes that they feel obligated to wear - and move on to bigger and better things.

But folks.  If it ever goes too far.  If you ever see me making my way towards you, a mad glint in my eye, trying to present you with this:

Smack me across the face.  

*Eighty years old.
**Official term.

Fairy Tale Ending

Imagine my dismay upon coming across this on a Bangkok sidewalk.

Granted, it's been a good twenty years or so since I have been privy to what the Gingerbread man has been up to.  I guess I just never thought it would end like this.

Like so many other foreign men before him, he came to Bangkok looking for a fresh start. How it all ended, we'll never know.   

One thing is for sure though.

The locals ain't talkin'.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mord All

Teaching is a rewarding profession.  I get to read books like "There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom" and pretend that I chose it for them

I get to moderate 9th grade class debates about honesty - and watch it all fall apart as final remarks deteriorate into mudslinging.  Nodding solemnly as closing arguments produce a chilling confession from a team captain - she did lie about liking her teammate's shoes yesterday*.

I get to have arguments with 6th graders about the height of a fictional child dwarf**.

I get to silently judge my 10th grade boys (all basketball stars) when they shoot for the trash can - and always miss.

I enjoy my work. 

I have noticed a few differences, however, between teaching 6th graders and high school.  Dwarves notwithstanding, I just feel like I have a little more control with the older kids.

I mean, check out this bad boy in my high school classroom.

"Rock on, Miss Sarah!" - says a generic cool teen, in my dreams.

Now let's mosey on down to 6th grade, shall we?

Fair enough.

* We all did. 
** It's still too soon to talk about this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Someone To Watch Over Me

Some people believe that they have guardian angels who watch over them.  Protect them.  Make sure that they are always okay.

I have never been fully sold on the idea until now.

Every time I get off the bus after work and walk back to my apartment, I feel it even more.

This is because I see mine everyday.

He is stoic, strong and tall.  He has everything it takes to get me out of any jam.  But more importantly, he is always there.

I can always count on him to fulfill all of his guardian angel duties*.    

Besides, how can a window display this well-thought out not make you feel like everything is going to be just fine?

*climbing, science experiments, ceremoniously breaking ground at new sites

Monday, November 15, 2010


I was coming out of the BTS yesterday afternoon when everything I ever thought I believed in was shaken to the core. 

Just what does she think she's doing?

Has she no awareness of how this little stunt upsets the balance of everything I have worked so hard to understand? 

Is that ham on one of the crackers? 

Why is she looking at me like that?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Accepting Defeat With Dignity

I have a lot of questions about this ad.

None of which I need to know the answer to.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Great Minds Think Alike

Sometimes people tell me they love cheese.  To them I say - you don't even know what cheese is.  The fact that this doesn't make sense and has never happened is irrelevant.  Basically, I just really like cheese.

It's delicious!

Also, teeth are cool.

Now stop me if I've had a little too much wine but what if - what if - there were a way to combine the two into a profitable enterprise?

It's so crazy that it just might work.

In my mind, it would look a little something like this...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Spirits Exhibit - Spooky, Scary!

Surprisingly, Bangkok is pretty big on Halloween.  Haunted houses, parties and even an annual zombie walk.  It's all pretty awesome.  To get into the swing of things I went to see the "Spirits" exhibit at the Thailand Creative and Design Center.

This is not as ambitiously cultured on my part as it may sound - the TCDC is at the top of the Emporium Shopping Mall.  I did, in fact, go to try and find the exhibit.  And find it, I did - but not after a few random 'I'm in a fun mood - why not?'  purchases, including but not limited to a pair of suspenders that I will never wear. 

Moving on.

To enter the exhibit, a nonchalant security guard waves you towards a black wall - which then slides open and you, impressed with such a fine start, stride in with full confidence.  I was not prepared for when the door slides shut behind you and all is dark.  Extremely dark.

Feeling my way along the wall, I rounded the corner and entered the next room.  Bare, cement walls with a lone light bulb hanging from the ceiling.  This was beginning to feel like a twisted version of a Law & Order episode wherein I had the potential to be both victim and/or interrogating officer (suspenders).  I'm not sure if this was the intent.  There was no explanation for this room whatsoever and after I walked through, I found myself in the midst of a delightful exhibition.

It was incredibly well thought out, with signs in both English and Thai and was quite thought-provoking.  Not only did the curators touch on different spirit traditions in Thailand but they also spoke about the economy of death and fear as well.  It was pretty awesome.

The picture quality makes this hard to read but this sign talks about how many people visit fortune tellers in Bangkok every year and the total revenue this generates. 

I was a Religion Studies major* in college and I find all of this really fascinating.

That is, until you accidently bump into this:

Not cool, Spirits Exhibit.

There were lots of different examples of Thai spirits and ghosts, including the head of a female ghost that was rigged up so that it moved slowly in a wide circle.  It was very dark in there and unfortunately I didn't even notice this one until it came around and hit me in the arm.  

There is a very interesting male spirit that I believe is called phi kra hung and basically this guy flies around at night, has a tail and what appear to be giant bamboo baskets for hands.  

On the write-up it says that men who live in the world as these spirits are very good at hiding it.  This is because they never let anyone touch their behind, presumably, to find the tail.  As a rule, I generally don't go around touching men's behinds.  I do, however, tend to notice when men have baskets for hands.  

The exhibit was impressive and culturally relevant.  Which is why I was a little concerned to see this guy trying to weasel his way into Thai culture via a cardboard cut-out.  

I enjoyed seeing Thai horror comics through the ages.

But not as much as I enjoyed seeing this.

"Something wicked this way comes!" - says this guy, unconvincingly.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sent From Above

I got to work today and made it up to the office, arms full of gradebooks and planners - cup of coffee balanced precariously on top.  With my hair twisted into a bun held up by a pencil and my non-existent glasses sliding down my nose, I ambled down the hallway reminding students of assignments, tossing off one-liners, and rolling my eyes in a good-natured way*.

I sat down at my desk and immediately began to think of all of the wonderful ways I would reach the minds of young people today.  This is what I do every morning because I am a great teacher. 

So I was chatting online and sipping my coffee after just having moved my "to do" pile to the left side of my desk - which, if I position my chair just so, I never have to see

When, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something.

I swear to God this was not on my desk yesterday.

I think this is one of those things that just is.  A mystery.  The Holy Trinity.  You really can't spend too much time trying to figure out what it all means. 

But honestly...

How can it not mean something?  Look at this guy.

*none of which actually happened

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sarah On Board

Just sitting, writing my grocery list the other day.  Fairly standard fare for me - some Halls cough drops, a box of forty year old laundry detergent, two tiny tea cups trimmed in gold and a pile of plastic soldier figurines.  To my dismay, I couldn't find a single outlet to cater to each of my (reasonable) needs.

But then... could it be?

It could!  Thanks to the Ratchadaphisek Market.  

This is truly a place where all your needs can be met.

Have you been searching for the perfect rearview mirror for that special someone?

Search no more!

Yearning for a suitcase full of pencil sharpeners?

Your yearning days are over.

But what if you would rather a collection of small, creepy dolls in that suitcase?

Ha!  You can't fool the Ratchadaphisek Market.  Not for a minute.

Located at the northern tip of Bangkok, this place is a bit hard to find.  But it is gloriously full of all the stuff you thought you'd never find. 

Let alone need.

I see you, Garfield.  

I honestly love this place.  It is full of junk.  Which just so happens to be my cup of tea (trimmed in gold).  Bathed in a soft glow, awash in the tunes of 1950's rockabilly, it is a surreal place full of VW camper vans and all the crap you never knew you needed.  

I truly love places like this.  Flea markets.  Antique stores. Junkyards. Everything has a story.  Granted, the story might be long over but I'll always listen.  

And I love that teenagers, no matter where they are from, will always be eager to scoop up their Che Guevera pictures for street cred.  

There are many a lesson to be learned from my sojourn to the Ratchadaphisek Market.  One is that there are others like me.  Others who like old crap.  Others who have long dragged family, friends and significant others to flea markets and put up the good fight about why they should buy this old telephone that clearly does not work anymore.  There are others like me all over the world.  

But I say that to say this...

Hilarity knows no cultural boundaries.