I have twenty minutes until I need to leave to get to campus, and my cup-of-noodles is still too hot for me to eat, so I guess it’s time to put throw together an update of life. (edit: it took me all day to put this together, but it was STARTED before class this morning.)
On Sunday I went down to an island about 130km southwest if Bangkok called Ko Si Chang. It’s a smaller, less touristed island, and made for a wonderful two-day escape from Bangkok. It was great to be there. I haven’t spent much time on the ocean, but I think it’s beautiful. Although seeing an elusive and endangered white-squirrel in the wild was great, and seeing the temples and beach and such was interesting, the highlight was certainly the time spent down by the water, sitting on ragged rocks, thirty feet above waves breaking on the cliff-face below, and talking away the waning hours of daylight and then the passing lights of ships. Setting sun, ocean– grey infinity, breaking waves, quite, timeless conversation as the light fades and disappears altogether. It was great.
(A view of Ko Si Chang’s township)
(A view of the west side of the island. Our bungalow was one of the small buildings visible in the center of the photo.)
(One of Ko Si Chang’s huge motorcycle taxis (tuk-tuks), unique to this area of Thailand)
I went with Caitlin, another student who is studying at Thammasat. Ironically, she’s from Denver University, which is all of an hour and forty-five minutes from my house in Cheyenne. She’s of no romantic interest, but was fun to travel with, and a source of some valuable information. For example –Josh makes NO sense. It’s a 20-30 minute trip between campus and the apartment. He came back from class about five minutes ago, made himself a peanut-butter sandwich, ate it, and he just left again. To go back to class. There’s food stands all over campus. There’s a decent, cheap cafeteria. There’s a hundred good restaurants and noodle-stands within a five minute walk of campus. I don’t understand…– there’s a building next to my apartment, whose purpose I couldn’t fathom. I would see cars driving in and out, and I could see from walking by that there is a series of car-stalls with curtains in front of them. I assumed that it was some sort of parking garage, or a super-sized car-wash, or something to that effect. No. I found out from Caitlin that it’s a “carpark,” and it works like this: the driver comes in, and pays for a stall for, say, two hours, then drives to his/her stall with his/her special someone and– here’s where the curtain comes in– closes the curtain. And has two hours of privacy. Ha ha. Go do the math. =)
The sexual hypocrisy in Thailand is laughable. Nudity is banned not only on national television, but in national cinema as well. Sex (and the sex industry) is never mentioned in print or any formal situation. Monks are not– in any circumstances– allowed to be touched by women. If you’re a woman, and you want to hand something to a monk, your’re expected to set the object down so the monk can pick it up without the chance of touching a woman. On balance, the Thai people try to pretend that they don’t know what sex is, that it doesn’t exist, that certainly none of them have ever HAD sex (it’s strange being in my classes where the students are so skittish and gigly when the professor mentions sex, and knowing that no more than a handful of the students are virgins…). And yet, in spite of this, the sex industry in Thailand is considered to be the most prolific in South-East Asia, and probably all the world. So. You want to see some skin? Forget the national cinema. Go to one of the dozen “karaoke” joints you walk past on your way to the theatre. Go to one of Bangkok’s hundreds of go-go bars or massage parlors (there certainly are reputable, decent massage parlors as well, mind you). Sure, prostitution is illegal, but you need to understand something: if it isn’t profitable for the police to enforce a law, it’s not enforced. There’s a lot of things that are illegal here, but everyone does it just the same. Put the right amount of money in the right person’s hand, and they’ll overlook anything. So sex is everywhere except in public view.
God. I really didn’t want this to turn into a rant. Time to turn this around.
So the island was great. But strangely, as much as I enjoyed being there, and as much as I thought to myself while there “goodness, I could just stay here forever,” I find that I don’t have any desire to go back. And I don’t understand why not.
I miss Bozeman. A lot. Reading Ken’s blog posts makes me smile, and at the same time it makes me infinitely sad that I’m not there in Quad E hanging out with the people I grew to know and love last year. It makes me sad that I’m not hiking in the hills and playing informal games of Ultimate on the green grass in the courtyard. As Meekyung reminded me, home is where the heart is, and in that regard I haven’t been gone for five weeks, I’ve been gone for four months.