Sunday, June 9, 2013

Being Sick, Traffic, Hand rails and Movie Reviews

The best thing about having a really bad three-day cold/flu thing (what is the difference?) is how you feel when you’re better.  That return to normalcy, that return to everyday health makes one appreciate feeling normal more than any other normal feeling can.  Normal becomes feeling great. After 72 hours of feeling like crap, which feels like it will never end, when you start to feel better, it’s better than normal.  It’s like, wow, I don’t feel like crap anymore! I feel great!!!   That’s how I’m feeling right now.  

I’ve been really sick the last three days.  A fever of 38.5!  After lots of drugs which alleviated symptoms but didn’t do anything for the underlying condition,  what I think really is making me well again is massive (3000mg) doses of Vitamin C.   It boosts my own immune system.  The only cure for a cold is your own body.
 * * *

Thai people don’t use handrails.  Be it the stairs in my condo, stairs at my school, the escalator at the mall or the reknowned BTS subway system.  They don’t touch the handrails.  As I’m recovering from a nasty cold, I understand. Why expose your hands to germs to they don’t need to be exposed to?  It’s not like an escalator is particularly dangerous.
·         * * *
Some observations about driving a motorcycle in one of the craziest cities in the world when it comes to traffic: 

1.       You have to drive like a completely selfish ass-hole who only cares about getting to where he wants to go as quickly as possible.  On a motorcycle, you have to drive as if there is no one behind you, no one to either side, you drive as if it is just you and this maze of slowly moving cars which you zip between. 

2.       There is no being gracious, there is no ‘no, you go first’.  Drive timidly and you will get creamed.  See, it doesn’t matter what country you’re driving in, the key to safe congested driving is being able to predict what the other driver is going to do. So, since the norm for Bangkokian drivers is to be a completely selfish forward-thinking actor, if you don’t act that way too, you’ll get yourself killed.  Knowing what the other guy is going to do is key to not hitting him.  If I don’t want to get hit, I have to drive like a normal Bangkok driver, and that means, by western standards, driving like a maniac.

3.       It’s somewhat amusing how Bangkok drivers remind me of Adam Smith.  That 18th century Enlightenment thinker talked about the selfish actor in the dynamics of the market.  I don’t know how true or efficient that is when it comes to an economy, but ‘the selfish actor’ completely describes driving in Bangkok. 

4.       I sure wouldn’t want to own a car in this town.  I get around three times faster than those poor 4-wheeled vehicles.  Any two-lane road is five lanes for me.  Between the two lanes and on either side.
 * * *

I really need some more Thai friends.  A plea for “I need friends!” sound kind of pathetic in any context, but managing the everyday challenges in a country where you can’t speak the language nor decipher the written words is made a lot easier if you have local friends to help you out. I’ve got two or three new Thai firends through my connections at school and through my placement agency, but I don’t want to overburden them with my needs. 

So, if you happen to be a Thai person reading this blog and you’d like to make a western friend who will be very grateful for helping him adapt to this new country, please message me!

I kinda lucked into that number.  Most Thai cel phones start with the numbers 087, so it’s kind of like I have a 5 digit phone number.

* * *

I’ve been getting back into movies lately.  Since I was sick this weekend and had to stay home and rest, I bought a DVD player for the TV set and a bunch of movies.  Bt500 ($17) to buy eight first-run, new releases.  Gotta love living in the world capital of intellectual property piracy!  

I’m halfway through watching my new releases, and since I’ve nothing better to write about, here’s my reviews:

ARGO:  Good movie, but predictable.  See, the problem with any historical reenactment movie is that we know how it ends.  They escape Iran.  I remember watching it on TV as a kid.  Takes away from the suspense.
Life of Pi:  Really good movie.  Not what I expected at all.  A must see, although the ending makes you thing about how you’ve sympathized for someone who seems to be of the utmost moral character, and then you find out that actually…
Dark Shadows: I love Johnny Depp in almost anything.  Here’s the thing about movies that are kinda funny, but are not comedies:  the occasional chuckles don’t carry the movie through its otherwise implausible premise.
Immortals:  Had to turn it off it was so bad.  I normally like movies about gladiators, muscular men doing sword fighting stuff, historical fiction, but this… well… it’s from the producers of 300 who in their first attempt had in the story of Thermopolye, the makings of an incredible story.  In Immortals, they didn’t have and it showed. 

·        * * *

I’ve made no new Thailand videos at all this week except for my weekly participation in the Seasons of the Ukulele community.  Last week, the theme was about food and so I did a little song that my Dad introduced to me many years ago… 


  1. Pushing up hoame-grown tomatoes! That's a novel idea... I like my spelling, it sounds like the song ;)

  2. So sorry you were sick. The thing about handrails is they can save your life but keeping you from falling. Cold or broken neck? I guess the best defense is washing your hands a lot. Hope you are better soon.

  3. Hey Joko,

    Couple of suggestions on how to meet more Thais. The first is to try to find language-exchange people. It's not that common in Thailand but maybe go around to some of the colleges near your apartment and see if they have such programs in their English departments. Another thing you might do is get part-time work teaching adults. You make a little extra dough and this can be a great way to make Thai friends.

    By the way, what park were you at in your video?

    1. That's a great idea! I'll try to do that.

      That is Rama IX park on the east side, out behind Seacon Square. They say it is the biggest park in Bangkok. Being out in the burbs a bit, I can see they had the space for it.

  4. It is inevitable that you'll end up with an amazing Thai girl... and some form of animal life will adopt you as its savior from the mean streets... Doing some english conversation may help... Thai girls will draww it all out like your dating in the 50's... no public affection... bla bla bla... try Issan food... you'll need to like it :-)

  5. Fantastic video - enjoyed it immensely. Calli in NJ (home of the best beefsteak tomatoes ever).


Discovering Northwest Myanmar 16: Kataung to Mandalay

I call them "Burmese Doughnuts". They've got another name, but essentially, it's fried bread. The three-week adventur...