Icy Beer & Drug Deals

Being sick sucks. I got sick just before New Years but I powered through since I refused to let it muck up my vacation. I got back to school, started to get better, and have since relapsed. So now I’m typing this at 4 in the morning since I can’t sleep and I’m wheezing like a pale whale getting choked by Christian Bale.

I thought I’d share a couple Thai culture tidbits that I don’t think I’ve written about before. Item one: yes, it is perfectly normal and expected that you put ice in your beer (the Thai word for ice is nam keng). I heard about this one before I got here. When first I read about icy beerthis from back home, I was thought to myself, “Woah bro, super weird.” Then I arrived in October and saw all of the locals doing it. Still, I was like, “Woah bro, still a little weird.” But then I realized a few things: a) Thai beer doesn’t have the most floral of bouquets taste-wise, so the colder the better. And b) it’s fucking hot here. Combine these, and icing down your beverage doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Fast forward to January, and I’ve fully embraced this practice. Now if I order a beer at a restaurant and they bring over just the bottle, I’m like, “Woah bro, where’s my nam keng?”

Another culture thing that took a while to catch onto but is really interesting is the National Anthem. It plays twice a day, once at 8am and once at 6pm. It plays on TV, in bus stations, schools, and essentially anywhere with a speaker or PA system. The coolest part of it though is that as soon as it comes on, everyone stops what they’re doing, stands up and listen as it plays out. This means that twice a day, every single person in the country is standing still at the exact same time listening to the exact same thing. Thais have a lot of pride in their country and this is one of the more visual ways that I’ve seen it on display. My friend Brittany has found a way to use this to her advantage when exercising. If you start a run a before 6pm, when that clock ticks over, the respectful thing to do is to stop and listen. It’s the perfect lazy loophole. “I’m being culturally sensitive, not stopping to keel over and pant.” So cheers to you Brittany, that’s the kind of lethargic game planning this lazy man appreciates.

Last week, my taxi driver offered me drugs on the way to the airport.

Ok let’s back up. I was in the midst of my massive travel day from Ko Pee Pee back to my town and taking a taxi to the airport. I got to town and this taxi guy came up to me and says he can take me to the airport for 600 baht. I pathetically bargain down to only 500 and we get on our way. Next thing I know we’re tuk tukstopped at a red light and his taxi friend pulls up next to us. They say a few things to each other and then his friend passes over a handful of leaves through the window. Now my driver spoke less than 20 words of English, but he pointed to the leaves, said the word “police”, and mimed out the handcuffs sign to me. Boom, I’m smart, these must be cocoa leaves. Of course, me being a small talker, I point to them and inquisitively mime out “chew?” This man was a gentleman. He ripped one off and tried to pass it to me… And as much as I really wanted to accept it for the sake of a story, I wasn’t about to accept drugs from a man who just said “police” and made the handcuffs sign.  But thanks for the offer Mr. taxi man.

Well that’s about all the fun stories for now. I’m officially halfway through the term and the summer months of March & April are right around the corner. As for what I’m gonna do then, it’s kind of up in the air. When I decide though, you guys are like 4th or 5th on my list of people to tell after Mom, Dad, and Stevie the frog. Tomorrow though I leave for a week-and-a-half long field trip to Nakhon si Thammarat to our sister school with my fellow teachers. Apparently I’m going to have to wear traditional Thai attire and do some sort of customary dance. So there will be some embarrassing photos/videos to look forward to.

Alright friends, I hope everyone is well back home. It’s pretty depressing to read about how bad my Lakers are this year, but at least I don’t have to watch and can look forward to a top pick in this years stacked draft. My niece of 5 is at a very susceptible age and is in serious danger of becoming a Clipper fan. So get your tank on Lake Show and deliver me Mr. Wiggins. Peace everyone, Bald Eagle out.

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