When you come to Thailand on a vacation, you hope that your trip will be smooth sailing. No problems, no hiccups, no wrinkles...just your itinerary the way you planned it. That's usually what happens - but not always. A few weeks ago a visiting group of friends had what you'd call a problem...and a hiccup, and a wrinkle - all on the same night! Thankfully, with the help of modern technology - and especially a few friendly Thai policemen - we were able to rescue them from what could have been a very long and very bad night.
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.
For westerners, there are no animals more exotically Asian than elephants and monkeys. Usually only glimpsed behind thick glass or from a distance at some cheesy zoo, to be able to get up close and actually touch one of these beasts is a truly unique experience. This is why I was excited when a recent visit by my beloved family (hence my long online absence) allowed me to visit not one, but two animal sanctuaries where I could interact with monkeys and elephants in ways you normally can’t, and which I had never done despite being in Thailand nearly […]
Christmas was always my favorite time of year in Canada for all the cheesiest and most clichéd reasons: walks in the snow, hot chocolate in front of roaring fireplaces, carols, time with family, and the general feeling of good cheer that goes along with the whole thing. Also, eggnog and free swag. But as I approach my tenth Christmas in Thailand, I have realized that – somewhat sadly, I admit – I have lost almost all of my emotional connections to this time of year. Now, instead of looking forward to the holiday season, all I do is join the growing chorus of groans when I start to see Christmas trees dotted throughout the city. Of course, whenever anyone says anything anti-Christmas, they’re labeled a Grinch or a Scrooge, but let me explain.
Good lord, it's been three weeks since I posted last. Well, it's been a busy few weeks, plus I had a case of the lazies for a while, but it's a good thing they're over, because next week is all about: sleeping in! That's right, it's Songkran, the Thai New Year. I'm not going to write a post about the history of Songkran or its background or customs. It's a huge-ass waterfight for four or five days that pretty much shuts the country down. Think Christmas/Thanksgiving but it's 38ºC and everyone has a water cannon. But Songkran becomes a bit tiring once you've done it a few times, so this year I'm doing what I do best - staying in and ignoring the whole shebang.
Well, that was a long break. As previously stated, I took a wee vacation to the far-off land we call “Europe” with my lady, and am only now getting back into the Bangkok groove. I only manage one big vacation every few years, so it was a long time coming. Enjoyed it a lot, spent too much money, but it was worth it – you know the drill. At any rate, it was interesting to me, living in one of Asia’s biggest, most culturally important cities, to experience some of Europe’s biggest, most culturally important cities. I had a few thoughts on Bangkok while there…
Christmas is a special time for everyone who grows up in a western country. For me, it's a time of chilly nights, warm fireplaces, heavy snowfall and quality time with family and friends. I love Christmas; it's my favorite time of the year and has been since I was wee. But when you're living overseas, it's not as easy as simply jetting back for a few days; plane tickets are expensive and in many places, such as Thailand, December 25th is simply a regular workday in a regular week. So, what's the best thing to do? You want to avoid overloading yourself with reminders of what you're missing but still get a taste of home. With that in mind, I picked five of my favorite Christmas movies that give you a healthy dose of Christmas cheer but distract you with other movie goodness so as to avoid leaving you a wine-soaked lump of homesick wretchedness.