Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Trip and First Impressions of The Land of Smiles

I awoke this morning to a symphony of frogs, croaking their loudest to be heard over the tropical rainstorm.  It's 3 AM on my first day waking up in Thailand. The streets of Nai Harn are empty; I can hear an occasional wave crash in on the beach accross the street.  Tide must be coming in.  Mostly though I feel the heavy, moist tropical atmosphere, enveloping me in it's warm, humid embrace.  I'll get used to the air eventually, but when I first walked through that airport door yesterday and took that first breath, with every sense of my being, I knew,
I was in Thailand.

I couldn't sleep; I'm too excited and my internal clock thinks it's noon. My shirt is already a bit sticky with sweat as I type this in the open air lobby of the resort.  ATI has paired us with roommates and mine is still sleeping in the room's AC.  I feel sorry for the guy.  I've been told my snoring could wake the dead. I hope I don't wake up some night to a pillow being pushed into my face.

My first impressions of the Thai people have been nothing but positive.  Polite, even when they're trying to get you as a client for their taxi, relaxed, willing to help and most of all, friendly.  I can see why this place is called the "Land of Smiles". Now, I make this assessment after less than 24 hours in the country, and based on a very small sample size, but I do think I'm going to get along well with these people.

As I made my way here in the rain from my room, some of my classmates in this program were still up, drinking vodka, sharing stories and our mutual excitement for being here.  They beckoned me to join them. I politely joined them for a second, but headed on with the plan of finding the bakery/coffeeshop a block down the road that one of my classmates told me about.  Surely, as a
bakery, they open early, and they also have free wifi.  150 minutes of it costs me $12 here at the hotel. I had no idea what time it was, but alas, it is not yet time for croissaunt, coffee and connectivity.

So here I write, soon to edit video.

Most of my other classmates here are young people. I'm one of 3 in our 40's, there's a couple in their 30's, but all the rest of our class of 42 are twentysomethings fresh out of college or sick of the low-paying jobs which are the staple of just starting out in our current economy. Mostly Americans, although my aforementioned roommate is Canadian.  As we all interact, the standard questions arise of "where you from?", "what flight did you take to get here?" and most importantly, "what brings you to this program here in Thailand?"  Most of the answers to that third question are variations
on a similar theme: tired of a dead-end job, wanting to see the world, no ties holding them back.  I think my roommate's answer was the most straightforward of any I heard: he's in Thailand because he lost his job and no prospects for getting another one. Well. There ya go. I don't want to make it sound like I'm surrounded by a bunch of desperate losers, but certainly a dissatisfaction with what we're leaving behind is a common theme.

On to the video... 

I have had to lower the resolution of my videos to account for my slower upload speeds and since I am paying for it by the minute....

I just learned the Thai word for frog.  It's kinthang...  Which in Indonesian means "potato".  No, the two languages share no commonality, despite their proximity.


  1. Loved it! Thanks for the email. We are at another Walmart. My friends wantto know more about your adventure.

    1. I can't figure out how to add a "subscribe" or "follow" button on my blog!

    2. Click "design" upper right of your blog.
      Click "layout" on left column. This shows your basic layout.
      Click "add gadget" on the template. Window pops up.
      Select which gadgets you want. There is even a translate. Might be able to translate into Thai language.
      Click "more gadgets" to get to "Followers".

  2. Joko - that is crqzy money for the internet. Get yourself a local sim card as soon as possible and tether the phone to your laptop to get an internet connection. $12 will cover your sim card plus about a weeks unlimited internet use.

    Loving reading your adventure - keep up the great work.

  3. Cool, great video. I found your blog through your mom's blog.

  4. I suggested those tropic weight shirts...oh well. :)

    What's amazing about the people is that they want jobs not adventure. Taiwan used to attract teachers mainly looking to travel for a year or two. Then, some bright person ADVERTISED on Canadian TV to "come teach in Taiwan and pay off your student loans." A huge influx of foreigners who were not interested in the local culture occurred. And then it finally happened...a taxi driver asked me if I was Canadian and I replied no. He then said "Good!" I guess all the Canadian flag patches don't work if you have a bunch of 20 something kids drinking and going wild.


  5. Wow, so interesting and such an exciting adventure !!!! So great up your Mother placed a link on her blog .... Hoping to follow more of your adventure .... Thanks for sharing .....

  6. Awesome video...looking forward to seeing some more and live vicariously through you for a while.

  7. there might not be too many obvious thai-indonesian cognates but nothing stops creativity... the number ten in thai is 'sip', so if you happen to meet any indonesians who have been living in thailand for a little while and they keep using '10' in their text messages to you, now you know what it means :)

  8. Hiya dood! Its wierd, Ive never been face to face with you but now that you've moved farther away, I miss you. lol Great Video buddy! ~Robbie~


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