When your next door neighbor seems a world away

8 06 2010

This post is coming to you from Thailand.

Yes, Thailand. Ao Nang, to be exact. I’m in a world with 24-hr electricity, more cars than motorbike, Snickers and SUBWAY. I had that for dinner last night and I was almost at home. They lacked the required pepper jack cheese. Anyway.

Over the past week and a half, I have been outside of Indonesia, and I must say, I miss it.

I’m in a place right now where even during the low season, there are more foreigners, or “farang” in Thai, than there are Thais. Even in Bali, I was still a part of the minority. In that environment, I was able to see the day to day Balinese culture and how it mixed with the tourism industry there. Here in Thailand, I still have yet to find any part of the Thai culture. That’s probably because I’m in the touristy places, but still, where are the Thail people?

Most travel guides tell you that Thai people are incredibly hospitable and friendly. I’ve only been able to find a single instance of that “famous hospitality.” Donald was in the pharmacy and I was looking in an art gallery dodging the rain. I noticed a tiny woman smashing shells with a hammer and a bowl of what looked like chili sauce. They were trying to pry out snails any way they could. It was kind of funny. The smasher woman’s friend offered us a sample and an explanation of what they were doing. “Famous food in Krabi, try it!”

The snails were delicious, and so was the chili sauce. She said that “foreigners think it’s too hot.” Try me, I lived in Indonesia. Sambal! Sambal! Sambal! Enak!

Another thing that is pretty weird to me is the fact that (besides how freaking MAHAL SEKALI everything is…) everything is owned by foreigners. Dive shops especially. Most of the dive companies here are foreign owned. On Ko Phi Phi, there is not a single Thai guide. We went with Melanie from Sea Frog Divers, who was German, and really cool, and I think it was a British guy that owned the place. It was like I was in Europe or something. Weird.

I’ll talk about environmental issues later, when I’m not paying an arm and a leg for internet. Just ask me about the visibility and temperatures during my dives here today and I’ll cry and run away to Bunaken.

Speaking of which, wanna go? (http://wikitravel.org/en/Bunaken)

Also, there are banyak stories of Indonesia that I still have to tell. Photos to post. I’ll deal with that once I get home… I know you’re dying to hear about destroying a guest list, getting pooped on at the zoo in front of my friends and students and my karaoke adventures in the VIP room with the principal, teachers, staff and Javanese love songs. And Bunaken. There’s a few stories in that one. I’ll tell you aaaallll about it when I get home.

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