I love living in Thailand, but nothing energizes the spirit more than a return visit home. I don't feel the need to go back too often - money and time are limited, and with all the video chats and Facebooking and instant messaging available at my fingertips, friends and family back home are never too far away. Not counting a quick solo trip this past Christmas, it's been 8 years since I spent any time of consequence in the Great White North. But that just means that when I do get home, it's even more special, which was definitely the case from October 6-24, when I, my wife, and our son packed our bags and visited the old country.
It's that time of year again - the vegetarian festival is upon us. This is the time of year when observant Thais eat only vegetarian food for ten days as a sort of penance for all the suffering that meat-eating causes for the rest of the year. It's a good idea, if you're of that mindset, but I usually spend those ten days actively seeking out shops, stalls, and restaurants that don't have that annoying yellow flag that says jae (เจ), which means vegetarian.
After living over 35% of my life in Thailand, I’m always reminded on my all-too-infrequent trips back to Canada how much I took for granted growing up. When I was a kid, I hated the town I lived in – “Ugh, I can’t wait to get out of this place!” we all used to say, like we were singing the chorus of a Springsteen song. But looking back with
grace and age, it’s clear to me how idyllic my childhood really was – miles of green grass, flat sidewalks, bike lanes, and baseball diamonds. The bank tellers knew me […]
I’ll be the first to admit that in the past, from time to time, I have bought counterfeit things. You know, in moments of extreme weakness. Taken a shortcut to save a few bucks. Usually it was for things that were pretty low profile – DVDs (back when people still bought those), shoes, sunglasses, and the like. But as I got older, I started to appreciate that, generally, you get what you pay for. When it’s a DVD it’s not a huge deal, but when you start to realize that the world of counterfeits extends to more serious […]
The first time I ever “got” a Thai inside joke was a pretty big deal for me. Most foreigners live here with a more-or-less vague understanding of the behind the scenes to-and-fro that goes on, but when it comes to the double entendres and the wordplay, most of us are in the dark.
Obviously when you try to fit in to a new culture, there are some obstacles that will just not be overcome no matter how hard you try. This is one of the reasons that it’s so important to have friends from similar backgrounds, because completely severing the connection to your own culture can, I imagine, have some ugly fallout. This little bit of expatriate source code came up for me tonight when, feeling sad about the death of Ronnie Corbett, I pulled up of one my all-time favorite sketches from his legendary show The Two Ronnies and […]
A few months ago I headed back to Canada after nearly 9 years without a visit. It was a trip I’d been looking forward to for a long time for obvious reasons (friends, family, Christmas, a nice change from the constant Thai heat), but also one that I was a bit nervous about. I don’t think I’ll ever move back permanently. I like to think it’s always a backup option – but what if this trip reveals once and for all how difficult it would be for me to fit back in to Canadian society and culture? I was definitely […]
If you haven’t picked up on it during previous posts, I’m the proud father of a beautiful, hilarious, mischievous, lovely little boy who just turned 1. I’ve written pages and pages privately about the experience thus far, but very little publicly. I wanted to reflect on one element of being a parent in Thailand that has never stopped making me laugh and/or frown in equal measure, and that is how Thais – most of the time females – react to kids. […]
There’s a very tired joke I like to make whenever some friends and I are oot and aboot in Bangkok. If we see a construction site, I always say “Maybe it will be a museum or library!” and everyone laughs and I get high fives, because 99% of the time it will either be a mall or a condo. Or both. Some love it, some hate it, but you can’t deny that Bangkok’s efforts to overtake Singapore as Asia’s shopping hub are ambitious and persistent. […]
Finding a really sweet pad in Bangkok is a rite of passage for anyone new to the city, as well as a draining and sometimes mystifying quest for old hands. Where to look? How to look? By local standards, what’s considered big or small, a good deal or a bad deal? What should you look out for? How “native” do you want to go? We covered this a few years back in an episode of Bangkok Podcast, but it remains one of the biggest issues facing expats here today. But recently a friend emailed me some interesting problems […]