Ugly Tourists…

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night depending on where and when in the wide world this finds you.  It’s a sunny Saturday morning to start my weekend off here, and I’m soooo very glad the weekend finally arrived.  This past week was one of those weeks that never seems to end, and the slow march to Friday afternoon seemed such a long road.   You know how some weeks seem to take twice as long to go by, while others come and go without much thought at all.  I wonder why some weeks are like that cause I’m sure everyone gets this feeling occasionally as well?

Anyways, on to the topic at hand while it is still fresh in my mind cause if i don’t get down in writing soon I will forget it.  That’s cause of the progression of age I think, but I digress.  Yesterday afternoon I was headed home after a gym session and reached the BTS station to catch my train home.  it was about 5:30 PM in the afternoon and the station was very crowded as usual, but one individual caught my attention despite the throngs of people.  It was a tall Caucasian guy, or farang as the Thais say, about a head taller than me with a backpack the size of an overweight child strapped to his back.   However, It wasn’t because he was a backpacker tourist that I noticed him because one can see many of these types of tourist across the city on any given day.  No, it was the over sized can of Heineken he was trying to carry through the gates leading up to the train platforms that I noticed about this particular fellow.  The guard stopped him immediately through the gate trying to separate this man from his unfinished beer, but the guy just wasn’t having it.  He immediately took on a very condescending tone, smiling and shrugging his shoulders at the guard saying very loudly…”What….What…..What!”  The guard politely told the man there were no “beverages” allowed beyond the gates (as evidenced by the large obvious sign above), but the man wasn’t about to give up his large can of beer to finish boarding the train.  He put his hand in the guards face and told the guard he was going to stand next to the gate and finish his beer, and kept laughing at the perceived silliness of this rule imposing on his vacation experience.

So, It makes me wonder if one can bring open containers of alcohol into any form of public transportation in the man’s home country?  I know in back home in the US the authorities in most cities don’t look to kindly on walking down the street sipping on a 40 oz. so I wonder why people assume they can just behave any less away from home.  Now, if this were an isolated incident then I might find it amusing, but I have unfortunately seen this situation play out in different ways here time and time again.  American, Australians, and the British are the absolute worst tourists when they travel abroad.  I always wonder why western tourist so often leave their common decency and manners behind when the travel abroad, whether it be climbing aboard the train sucking the face off a recently acquired prostitute or talking as loudly as possible to their cohorts across the dinner table in a quite restaurant.   Obviously, most tourists would need to possess a bit of world knowledge and money to get on a plane and travel across the ocean to reach Thailand, so It is a bit of a conundrum I have always wondered about.

Therefore, please keep in mind that when you do travel abroad you are representing your country of origin and that the locals get their impression of our cultures from your actions while visiting.  So, if you are going to be rude and make an ass out of yourself then eventually the local residents will form ill opinions of the place you call home.  I think it is human nature to let one negative experience or situation over rule a dozen positive ones, right?  I’ll stop preaching and close it there to wish you a wonderful weekend ahead.  Thanks as always for stopping by and I always appreciate each and every comment I get.  See you soon!

I like the comparison…

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night depending on where and when in the world this may find you. A very very Happy Thursday to you one and all and thanks so much for stopping by to have a visit. I stumbled into the office this morning before 8AM to catch up on some editorial corrections for a friend over the necessity of my coffee, and one of my co-workers came walking in to give me a bright “good morning.” Then purely out of the blue she tells me she’d been watching Ellen and started telling me about this interview with John McCain. So, naturally I came home from work to have a watch. I really liked the comparison she makes at the end of the clip and agree with her. The quite disagreement still feels like being shown to the back of the bus. Anyways, have a quick watch if you haven’t already seen it, and I’ll try to be better at posting over the weekend.

Moving and Marriage

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night depending on where and when in the world this finds you.  I must apologize for not writing over the past weekend, but the creative juices just didn’t seem to flow every time I sat down to tap something out.  I spent my time helping a dear friend to move this past Saturday, and there is nothing more draining than the process of relocation.  It is not only the physical labor in moving that makes us tired, but the  mental aspect as well.  I find that the process of uprooting of a person’s life can be equally as draining as the physical exertion that goes along with it.  We worked  most of the day Saturday carting my friend’s accumulated possessions and I am always surprised at the amount of stuff there is to move come moving day for anyone.  This applied to me also because, I moved relatively recently myself as well or anyone that has lived in one space for any length of time.  How many times have you had to start the process of moving, only to sit down and discover some item in your possession  that you  had completely forgotten  about.  How many of those kinds of things do you find when you get ready to move?  I know that the few times that I have moved here in Bangkok, that I always find these sort of things in my own possession and wonder why in the world I ever kept it in the first place.  Anyways, we did finally get the move done and got him all settled.

So anyways , I had meant to write an entry over the weekend to convey a BIG hearty congratulations to the members of the community over in California for the monumental success of legalizing and legitimizing equal rights with the passing of the gay marriage bill.   I must admit that I didn’t even know such legislation was in the works in California, but what a tremendous step in the right direction to provide ALL Americans with equal rights.  I have some very good old friends that have been together for more than 10 years living in Los Angeles and I wonder if they will finally be able to take advantage of this opportunity.  I certainly would were I a resident of the sunny California.

However, I listened to a podcast (internet radio show) recently and the guest and hosts were discussing the same California gay marriage issue.  One member of the discussion panel said that he’d read a blog recently, written by an American abroad I presume, who used the gay marriage issue to write a “whining” post about the ongoing lack of inequality which continues to exist.  I am one such American and I do live abroad without much hope of being able to move my partner home with me anytime in the near future.  I am certain there are Americans abroad all over the world living with this feeling, so I don’t think sharing our thoughts with each other in regards to the matter as being “whining.”  Isn’t that what blogging or podcasting is all about?  This medium of expression allows us to connect with people who may or may not feel the way we do and thus I would never belittle or down play anyone’s feelings on an issue.  Sharing is caring and it always feels better when you can talk about something that is bothering you, right?  Anyways, back to the grind for me, so much love from Bangkok and will speak with you again soon.

There is Always a Heckler in Every Crowd…

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night depending on when ever and where this finds you in this wide world of ours.  It is late on Friday afternoon here in Bangkok, and I’ve just tried unsuccessfully for about the 6th time to upload a video blog for you guys.  Consequently , i’m pretty darn irritated at the whole thing so here comes another written entry down the pipes for your reading pleasure.  I actually did get it uploaded to Youtube, but the sound and video were not in sync again like the last time so I don’t know what to do.  Any suggestions?  This entry was under 10 minutes so it couldn’t have been that, and I’ve tried 3 different other video sites with no success.  Therefore, at this point I give up before I internally combust.

Anyways, I just wanted to write a little personal update since I’ve been kind of quite this week.  I passed yet another big hurdle at Grad school this morning and so I celebrated this afternoon with a long nap.  I had to make a big presentation before a 6 person committee for my Independent Study, and I can’t tell you how nerve wracking it was.  I heard recently that a higher percentage of people fear public speaking more than death, and I can assure you that I’m one of those people.  It didn’t help that the committee chairman kept telling me to hurry up every 2 minutes, so i could feel the sweat rolling down my chest under my shirt.  All in all a very unpleasant experience, but at least I have finally passed my proposal defense.  I came out sort of annoyed though, because all the suggestions and criticisms offered were basically to turn my proposal back into the original format that I started with.  One very influential person at the faculty took my original proposal apart piece by piece and shaped a whole new one that she thought was better.  Well, today they basically told me they didn’t like the new one and the suggestions that were offered were actually the same as what I started with.  Anyways, I will stop bitching about it now cause at least i can move on to the next step, right?

I don’t know what to do about the video blogs, as I’ve had terrible luck trying to get them to work.  Perhaps I should just give in to peer pressure and start podcasting?  What do you guys think?  I know some of you have bee after me for a while to start, and I even have the audacity software installed to make some rudimentary stabs at doing just that.  However, what are the next steps?  How to upload them and what not?  How to post shows?  Are there formats you podcast veterans follow when you produce shows?  My curiosity is finally getting the better of me i guess.  Well, I think that is enough rambling from me on a Friday afternoon so i will wish all you guys a wonderful weekend ahead!  Much love from Bangkok, and will post again over the weekend!

The Stereotype of the Sexpat…

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night where or when ever this finds you in the world. It is just before 10 AM on a lazy overcast Sunday morning here in the Big Mango, and I thought I’d sit down and bang out another entry for your reading pleasure…or not as your tastes may be. Last night my partner and I departed from our usual routine and went out for a nice Saturday evening dinner. We visited a nice Thai restaurant called the River Bar for a nice meal. We drove across the impressive Rama 8 bridge/monument and had dinner on the Thonburi side of river. It was a very nice romantic dinner of baked fish, spring rolls, and sweet&sour pork. We don’t get to do those very often, unfortunately, due to my partner’s work schedule so it was a really nice thing for us to do together.

Anyways, I want to get to the topic in my head before it floats away into nothingness as things often do when they cross my mind. There is a ugly brush that is used to paint most foreigners living in Thailand that I’d like to address today with you. You see, there are a few assumptions or myths perpetuated by many if not most people ,both Thai and foreign, about us western men living here in Thailand:
1. The main motivation or factor for Western guys to move here to Thailand is sex and we only come here for the easy access to sex.
2. Western gay men are unable to be faithful and commit to monogamous caring relationships with only 1 partner.
3. Western gay men over certain age are only attracted to young dark skinned guys or girls.
4. Single western men have sex many times a week with random different partners for the purpose of one-night stands.
5. The sex industry in Thailand is caused by and used exclusively men from western countries.

So, firstly I for one did not move to Thailand for sexual reasons. I met my former Thai partner in the US while we were in school. We were together in the US for 7 years and I decided to give moving here a chance when the time came for him to move home. Also, I have another very close friend that moved here for a previously established relationship as well, and we have both agreed many times how these sort of racial stereotyping annoys us. To be perfectly honest, I really couldn’t even find Thailand on a map when i first met my partner, much less know about the sordid international reputation. Secondly, I know gay couples that have been together for decades and are just as happy being monogamous as some heterosexuals. The desire to step outside a relationship for sexual fulfillment is not limited to sexual orientation or race.

Thirdly, this idea in Thailand that all western men are attracted to very young dark skinned boys and girls is the biggest bunch of krap I think I’ve heard here. Everyone has different tastes in the world or else Baskin Robbins wouldn’t bother with 31 flavors. You don’t get to decide what your eyes find appealing so it is not fair to assume everyone of a certain age and race has the same tastes. Fourthly, I did not and have not ever engaged in a constant stream of one night stands on a weekly basis. This would apply here, home, or anywhere else in the world as my sex drive just isn’t high enough and perhaps I’m to picky. The randomness of meaningless one night stands has never appealed to me but I certainly wouldn’t throw stones when it comes to this point. To each his own, but my point is that it is just not me or my western friends.

Finally, I have heard many times over the years that the sex industry here in Thailand is perpetuated by the western male. This silly myth is easily dismissed by the presence of the massive structures used as “massage” parlors here in Bangkok around the ratchada area that cater almost exclusively to Thai clients. There is also a street called soi Thanaya here in Bangkok filled with “karaoke” bars that cater exclusively to Japanese clients seeking female short term companionship. However, I think westerners are more open when the frequent these type of establishments as it is not uncommon to see a westerner sitting in an open air bar with a “friend” on their arm for the evening. I think many Asian cultures are more private about such things, and thus the myth has been perpetuated that only westerners partake in such carnal activities.

I don’t know why I felt I needed to get that off my chest, but it is a conversation I’ve had with close friends very often. I wonder why it seems to be human nature to stereotype our fellow man? We are so quick to label one another as we pass in this world, but the world is a much more colorful place than we give it credit. There is a lot more depth of character out there passing you by, so next time you make an immediate assumption about someone I hope you pause to consider your thoughts again. Obviously, there are going to be those that fit your stereotype but not everyone wears the same size clothes, right? Anyways, I hope you enjoy your Sunday and will speak to you again very very soon. I’m thinking the next entry will be a video blog so make sure you stop by again soon!

Could you take the mirror away now?

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night depending on where and when this finds you in the world.  It is Thursday evening here in the “Big Mango” and I’m relieved that there is only one more day to go till the weekend.  This year the fates have given us a mid-term break in our third term at work, so I’m looking at another whole week of vacation time off work again next week, yet again.  However, I’ve loads to do with my Graduate studies and helping a friend move, so don’t go getting jealous just yet.  We’ve had such a yucky wet week here in Bangkok, and I think it is safe to say that the monsoon season has started early this year in Thailand.  I’ve had the misfortune of getting caught out in the rain each and every day this week coming home from work, and I must tell you that I enjoy getting getting rained on as much as cats do.  The intense storms come rolling through the city like clockwork every day around 4:30, so I’ve managed to arrive home drenched every single day.  Fun times, right?

Anyways, I want to get on with my train of thought I had planned for this post so let me get it underway.  Do you consider yourself to be a friendly person?   Are you good at making new friends?  Do your friends consider you to be friendly and amicable?  Well, believe it or not…I don’t consider myself to be a friendly person.  I prefer my own company most of the time, strangers and new people make me uncomfortable, and I avoid large social gatherings like the plague.  My “real” life personality is not half as friendly as I come across, but a lot of that is just being from the south and raised in a culture of good manners.

I often wish i could learn to be more friendly and sociable but I have such a hard time overcoming my intense shyness.  Unfortunately, this all to often comes across as me just being a snob but nothing could be farther from the truth.   Until very recently I always have used alcohol to overcome my social fears, but my drinking has done more damage over the years than good.  I have found myself not able to interact socially at all now without the aid of alcohol and for the first time in my life I clearly see the problem that it has become.  I have become an alcoholic.  No, I don’t or didn’t drink every day but I am definitely a serious binge drinker.  It got to a point where the alcohol was negatively affecting my personal and professional life, soooooo…..it is time Tom said goodbye to the booze.

Well, that went in a direction I didn’t expect but I’m glad I put it all down just the same.  I don’t think I am at a place yet where i can share more about this issue, but I’ve been trying hard to take steps in the right direction.  I’ve been working out many things in my head lately and I just wanted to share with you and all my readers a little deeper into what makes Tom in Thailand the man he is.  Thanks for stopping by today to have a visit to my blog, and I certainly hope you will come again.  It is usually much more light hearted than this.  Take care and speak to you over the weekend!

Human Pets…

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night depending on where and when this finds you in the world.  Happy Tuesday to one and all and I hope your Tuesday is/was more exhilarating and eventful than mine.  What is it about Tuesdays?  It’s just really that day of the week that sort of drifts by in a haze of routine and we seldom notice it as moves by in passing.  I bet you can’t remember what you did Last Tuesday, right?  We think about Mondays cause most hate it, and when I was young back home Wednesdays were always church night.  Thursday is the early start to the weekend for some, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday can bring along any number of social or personal experiences depending on how social one might be.

Anyway, I’m getting away from the topic on my mind that i wanted to share with you so I’ll stop my ramblings.  I actually sat down last night and recorded a videoblog about this same topic, but it ended up going 12 minutes long and youtube said the file was to large to upload.  Any ideas from you tech savy readers out there?  I tried several times with no success to upload it so I thought I’d better to just go ahead and write it out before the details of the situation left me.

So, there we were, my partner and I, last Friday night having a bit of dinner at the Greyhound Cafe near our condo when the disturbing event took place.  We went right into the restaurant and were seated immediately at the table next to this group of 3 Thais looking slightly bored of each other’s company.  We ordered our appetizer, meals and drinks and then sort of settled into relax as you do after your dinner orders are placed.  It was about this time that this tall, scantily clad Thai woman comes breezing into the restaurant out of no where and pauses in a model like stance before the table next to ours to receive compliments before she joined them.  This tall glamazon was dressed in a black blouse and tiny matching skirt with heels high enough to make a drag queen dizzy.  However, it was her traveling companion that caught my attention more, surprisingly enough.  This tall woman who had seen way to many episodes of “Sex in the City,” had arrived for dinner with her maid/servant in tow.  This little woman with her comes rushing in behind, with her head lowered carrying the shopping and the evenings wine selection.  She deposited the wine on the table and proceeds to kneel down in the floor next to the chair to receive some orders from the glamazon and off she went again on some errand.  Then she returned moments later with parking tickets stamped in hand, where she bowed her head and kneeled down yet again and was thusly shooed away on yet another errand.   She returned about five or so minutes later with a new fresh bottle of red wine and proceeded to take her place next to her mistress, kneeling on the floor head down.  It was at this point the self important woman leans over, tells her servant how cute she is in Thai and pats her on the head like a good dog.  Yes…you are imaging correctly!  Not only that, but the other woman dining at the table leans over and does the same pat on the head and gives the servant her best condescending smile that made my blood run cold.  Then the maid was dismissed with a wave of the hand, sent off to find her own food elsewhere for dinnner.  I kept making subtle gestures at my partner to see if he was watching this scene unfold, but I didn’t want to be obvious that I was gawking at them.  We got outside later and I asked him if he noticed what had unfolded.  The servant thing hadn’t seemed odd to him, but he did comment that every time the glamazon threw her head back and laughed that her face didn’t move at all.  Seems someone had been dipping into the botox fountain a little to heavily, huh?

This scene from “Gone With the Wind,” got me thinking about the social strata or class structure that still exists here in Thailand and how the social hierarchy is accepted and a part of every day life in Thai culture.  There is such a large sub-class of people in this country that seem to simply accept their lot in life, or perhaps it is because they have never been taught the values of self-worth we adhere to so deeply in most western countries.  The upper class here in Thailand rule with absolute authority and go about their haughty lives without question.  It saddens me really, but this mentality is so ingrained in their culture that I dare not share all my thoughts on the subject on how this mentality is perpetuated.  Some things are just not legal to say.  Anyways, just my little 2 cents and hope you found my little story entertaining and somewhat thought provoking.  If not, please stop by again often and hopefully my writings and ramblings can oblige.
Oh, and before I close out this post, I’m sure you’ve already noticed the new little icon I’ve added to my blog in the upper right.  I’d like to say a very special “thank you” to Pizzababe for inviting me to join the Freak Network.  I’ve been a big fan of so many of the blogs and podcasts over there for so long, and when the invitation came along to join them I jumped at it.  Thanks so much again and make sure you guys go over there and check them out.  Have a great week ahead and see ya soon!

An Ode to my Mom…

Happy Mother’s Day to one and all! It has been quite a week for me over the past 7 days, but I’m just simply not going to go into it today. I’ve something much, much more important to talk about.

What is in this person we call “Mom?” How do they go from being that girl next door that all the boys chase to that person we so lovingly call our Mom. I’ve grown up and had the chance to see motherhood dramatically change a woman for the good, and I’ve seen mothers who couldn’t care less about their unfortunate offspring. I mean look at Brittany Spear’s poor kids, right?

Anyways, I just want to say today how very lucky I am to have had the Mom or mother that i did. There are so very many vivid memories both positive and negative, but then we all have those i suppose.  I remember those special times when she would keep driving in the morning past my school, to take me on surprise shopping trips to Birmingham.  I remember one summer my mother wanted to take us on a surprise trip to the zoo.  I was so sick that day, but I didn’t want to make her feel disappointed so i went along anyway.  Also, that sad morning Mom was there for me when the school bus driver came to knock at our door, crying to tell us she’d run over my little dalmation and her hugs helped to dry my tears.  A steady hand on my shoulder when i stepped out into a school yard full of hundreds of teenagers for my first day of junior high.  And finally a good argument for the sake of healthy arguing.  She has always always been there for me, and I still to this day strive for her approval in every important aspect of my life.

So to my very special mother, I wish her a happy lazy day surrounded by those that love her.  Furthermore, to all the mothers I know out there…make sure you enjoy your day, and remember how much you do for those lives you create and affect.  Much much love from Thailand to you all!

Night Lights…

So, I was thinking about a comment I got the other day from the dearest reader I have and thought I’d use the comment as a jumping off point for my post for you tonight.  This particular reader knows me perhaps better than anyone else in this world, and so I sit here now trying to connect the dots from my past to my hear and now.  I was a very fragile child growing up in some ways and one thing I never ever went without was my night light.  I was always absolutely petrified of the dark growing up and slept with a night light of some sort throughout the duration of my childhood.  A room with nothing but total darkness used to bring a feeling of absolute panic to me, and I guess I find it ironic that I grew up to be the kind of person to prefer the night.

My first real sort of full-time job I had in my late teens into my early twenties was one working 3rd shift or all night long.  I worked from early evening until morning for about 6 years straight and slept the day away 5 days a week.  I found that my senses awaken more and more as the evening progresses and I do my best thinking the later I stay up.  Even now, whenever I am on extended holiday from work I find that my sleep cycles always roll over to that same old pattern of staying awake all night and sleeping the day away.  I still do love the night, and that goes especially for the night time in big cities.  I love the humming glow of neon lights, and the atmosphere the night brings to a city.  I used to wait and work all week for the weekend to come along because I knew that I could go out partying and mix with others willing to dance the night away under flashing lights and the drumming sound of base against metal.

The lights of the city never go off.  Especially monster sized cities like Bangkok, New York, or London.  I find much comfort in that even as an adult and the desire to stay awake until the wee hours is still quite strong.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I’m drawn to big cities because I know that no matter where I live within the city that I’ll always have a night light.  Anyways, enough ramblings from me right?  I sincerely hope everyone is having a pleasant weekend and thank you so much for stopping by.  Talk to you soon!

What Defines Labor?

Happy Labor Day to you guys out there, one and all across the globe.  I got such good response to the vidcast I did, and i really really want to thank you guys that posted such nice comments in response.  I honestly thought I looked terrible, but happy to know it turned out ok.  Sooooo…..I will definitely be putting up more video blogs soon, and will even make them a regular part of the blog since I got such good feedback.  You really know how to make a guy blush!

Anyways, Did you enjoy your Labor day for those of you outside the US?  I know at home we celebrate in September, but Thailand and many other countries around the world have theirs today.  I learned today, while reading a message board i frequent daily, that the British spell the word L-A-B-O-U-R.  Doesn’t really make sense phonetically to me, but then again I am an American and they do spell color as C-O-L-O-U-R.  Interesting isn’t it?  However, I’m not one for being petty about the different ways we spell words on opposite sides of the Atlantic, so let’s just move on.  I also did not realize that Labor Day was an International holiday.  I know, I know….just call me naive, but then again I usually ignore holidays I don’t get off work.

I am curious to find out what defines “Labor” to you?  I often wonder why so many professions are not regarded as being “labor” intensive kids of work.  Teachers, nurses, doctors, accountants, or even journalists are not regarded as being individuals that “labor” for their hard earned money.  Therefore, this narrow definition of the word would imply that because i don’t sweat carrying bricks or digging ditches that my profession is not labor intensive.  However, I don’t think this is a fair definition of labor.  I work very hard at what I do, and I can assure you that I do “labor,” though I do not toil for hours hanging dry wall.  My profession requires a huge amount of thinking, planning, and massive amounts of brain exercise that can and does elicit a sweat on the odd occasion.

Now, before you judge, I must point out that I have worked as a “laborer” in the traditional sense eons ago.  I had the extreme misfortune of being employed at Wal-mart in the warehouse division.  Further, to compound the unpleasant job, I worked the third shift for many years prior to attending University.  I’ve tossed endless amounts of freight from the back of 18 wheeler vehicles, so I’ve been on both sides of the ‘labor’ issue.   I remember working really hard for my money back in those days, but guess what I never had to do much of?   Think….I never had to plan anything and the minimal amount of responsibility I had was nothing compared to my career duties now.  So, In my opinion I did labor then but I also do now.  I labor for hours over my responsibilities and my partner is a doctor and i need not tell you the amount of time he puts in to his profession.  We both work hard, and though I didn’t get today off…I think we deserved it.

Soooo….I think I’ll close here for today.  I’ll get off my little soap box now and put it away under the sofa.  As always, thanks so much for stopping by and will get a new vidcast up again for you soon!  Have a great end of your week, where ever this finds you in the world morning, noon, or night.  Talk to you again over the weekend!