This is a story I wrote for the Toronto Star in 2006, reprinted here as a supplemental to an episode of The Bangkok Podcast on tourist scams.“Why are you being so stupid?” shouted ‘The Godfather’ through uneven brown teeth as he jabbed a gaudily-jeweled finger toward me. I sat across the rickety table from him, as a bead of sweat marched its way down my temple, sticky from the tropical heat. How did I wind up here?
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Update: The app below is now discontinued, but my tours are now available via the VoiceMap app, for iPhone and Android. Check them out here.
Well, it’s taken the better part of 18 months, but the Bangkok walking tour app that I’ve helped put together is finally available for download! As of launch, there are 4 tours available that take you on foot through some of Bangkok’s most interesting areas, from a quick food walk through Chinatown to a half-day route that takes you clear across the city (don’t worry – part of it […]
On July 25, 2014, I celebrated my 13th anniversary in Thailand. Not too bad considering I originally came here for a 4 month vacation. By the time I passed the ten year threshold, I was solidly comfortable with my life in Thailand, and I wrote a post about what it felt like. But as I reflected on 13 years, I started wondering when, exactly, Thailand went from being “the place I’m living right now” to “the place that I call home.” […]
Podcasts have so completely taken over my iPhone that it’s almost sad. The thousands and thousands of songs that I’ve worked hard to collect over the years are sitting neglected, covered in digital spiderwebs, as I load up on podcasts about history, movies, art, comedy, and science. I may be biased, of course, as I co-hosted the Bangkok Podcast for nearly 2 years, but I really think that this format is an underrated game-changer. […]
A lot of time people feel the need to get out of Bangkok and catch a break from the constant buzz of traffic, the crowds, the highways, and the cement. Oh God, the cement. Some people go to great lengths to catch a break, like a friend who will gladly travel all night in a crowded minivan and half a day on a boat to spend one night on a beach. I’m a bit
lazy more pragmatic, in that if I leave town, it needs to be easy, cheap, fast, and worthwhile. A few months […]