Friday, April 6, 2012

Baby Alert (not mine) - Welcome Benjamin White

Many of my friends also know Brian White thus this post.

My good friend Brian White who is visiting just gave me permission to update my blog with the wonderful news that on April 4, 2012 at 1:36 p.m., Benjamin White was born to Vansiy Tue and Brian White in Bangkok, Thailand. Both the baby and Brian's lovely girlfriend Vansiy are doing fine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

House Boat Trip to Kanchanaburi

My dear friend Rhonda kidded me about my "New Year's resolution" to update my blog more frequently.  As usual, she was right so here we go.

Since returning to Thailand, my time has been  focused on practicing my practical Thai language skills, waiting for the land I purchased in Prachinburi, Thailand to be cleared so construction on a small house and garden can begin and a few trips throughout the region.

"Apparently", I have been told, the land should be cleared by the Thai Songkran holiday next week.  The notions of "Thai Time" and "Mai Pen Rai" (or No Problem) have tested my patience a little bit but I am excited to see the progress when I visit Prachinburi for the Thai holiday which is best characterized by people throwing as much water on as many people possible throughout the three-day holiday.

In February, I went with Porn and her friend Mai who is from Prachinburi and about fifteen of her Prachinburi friends for a two-day house-boating trip in Kanchanburi, a rural, mountainous area about 3 hours from Bangkok.

I figured it would be a good chance to meet some of the locals from the town where I will build and was I ever right!  Thirty-six hours of chatting (in Thai), swimming, listening to Thai music and eating non-stop.  The boat rental included a dedicated cook, a kind woman skilled in the art of cooking Thai food for large groups of people.  Honestly, she cooked almost the entire time bringing out more dishes about every 15 minutes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Catching Up and Making New Year's Resolutions

Long time, No Hear....  :-)

My resolution for 2012 is to make this a more common occurrence.  Having just returned back to Bangkok after a three week visit to the States, I heard repeated comments asking me "Why did you stop updating your blog?"

Since my last post in 2011, much has happened to me and, on the advice of my friend Garrett, I will just post a quick summary of those events.

Hmm...May 2011 was my last post, so here I go.  On June 2, I celebrated my birthday.  Thanks to my lovely friend, Joy, I enjoyed a great dinner in a riverside restaurant with a surprise birthday cake!  Thank you, Joy.

Travels since that time have included:

  • the beautiful region of Thailand called Krabi with unbelievable limestone rock formations sprouting out of the clear blue/green water

  • A week in Vietnam and Cambodia with my good friend Brian White which included the making of a short video of Brian crossing the street in Vietnam which surprisingly has amassed over 1.4 million YouTube hits. Watch here:  B Dub Vietnam
  • A week on the island of Koh Samui with my friend Hsan Htein and his brother-in-law Sonny

  • A trip with my girlfriend Porn to her hometown in the Issan region of northeastern Thailand which has the best food I have ever eaten;

  • A vist to Ban Phe to visit my teacher friend Paul and his charming Thai wife Tay, and Koh Samed (actually many trips to Koh Samed, a small island three hours by bus and boat south of Bangkok)

In my spare time, I have developed a very successful English tutoring business.  My students are primarily high school and college students who reside with their families in my condo building.  This has been fun and rewarding and I look forward to another successful year of teaching others my native language.

The holidays here were a bit of a disappointment.  It's this time of the year that I get the most homesick and, as such, decided to book a trip home in January.

San Francisco was fun, seeing old friends, eating good food, enjoying the lovely scenery and not sweating profusely every walking moment.  A short trip home to Boston was awesome. My whole family is doing well and I miss them more with each passing day.  Renting a car back in California and driving the state was relaxing and tiring.  Six days and 1,600 miles later, I had visited Long Beach, Los Angeles, Chico,  Sacramento, Pacifica and Monterey before settling back in my friend Marc's San Francisco apartment for my last few days of watching the NFL Playoffs and saying my goodbyes.

Upon my return, I visited the town of Prachin Buri, next to the Kaow Yai National Park and purchased four acres of land on which I hope to build a home with a guest bungalow or two when my friends and blog followers come to visit this lovely country.  See Prachin Buri here:  Prachin Buri, Thailand

My truest wishes to you all for a wonderful 2012 filled with friends, laughter and good health!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Learning Thai

I enrolled in a class to study the Thai language.  Now, I haven’t studied a language since college which was a long, long time ago.  Needless to say, I was a little bit nervous but I knew I had the time to devote to studying and learning it as well as the desire to be able to communicate with all the people around me.  Many people in Thailand can speak English to varying degrees but I feel that to not learn the language of the country that I am staying in would be disrespectful and serve only to isolate me from so many people and experiences here.
A friend from my TEFL class had researched a bunch of language schools in Bangkok and Bill recommended Unity Thai Learning School (UTL). Thai Unity Language School . Bill’s friend Dave said that Bill does not commit to anything without doing extensive research and that if Bill thought UTL was the best school; Dave thought that it’s a safe bet that it would be.

Each “module” lasts a month and class is Monday-Friday, 1pm to 4pm.  So, this was no easy undertaking.  Sixty hours of in-class study each month is about what a semester-long class would be in college.  This first three months are spent learning conversational Thai while months four and five focus on reading and writing. 
As it turned out, the class has been extremely good and entertaining as well.  The students are a mix of ages, cultures and personalities but all fun people, striving (and some, like me, struggling) to learn a new language.  Most of the students in my classes have been Japanese of Korean with a smattering of other Asian ethnicities and the rare farang (Thai word for white foreigner).  Some of my new friends include Khun Hata, Khun Meena A and Khun Toni.  

Hata is a Japanese guy who has become my partner in crime in Thailand.  He's funny and a really good guy.  Hata does not speak much English.  I don't speak any Japanese.  So, when we hang out, we practice our Thai!.

Meena A is a wonderful, stunningly beautiful Korean woman.  Her husband is working in Bangkok and she is biding her time with Thai studies.

Tony is of Laos descent but was raised in France.  He speaks great Thai and French and English.  Tony owned a clothing store in Bangkok with his Thai girlfriend.

Why does Hata keep showing up in every photo...hmmmm??????

The teachers are understanding, patient and good-natured….oh, and not so hard on the eyes also.  Khruu Kitiya and Khruu Suwajee are my two favorites.  Khruu Kitiya was even kind enough to invite me to her wedding in December.  More on that to follow.  :-)  Khruu Suwajee has become a good, dear friend.  She's an awesome gal and just received a visa to teach Thai at a Thai wat in America in, of all places, Houston!  Good luck, cowgirl.  :-)

This is Khruu Kitiya.  :-)

And, this is Khruu Suwajee.

The school has been a good way of helping to integrate myself into the Bangkok community and meeting a few good friends along the way. Our class also went out to dinner to celebrate the end of one of the courses at the Oriental Hotel on the Chao Praya River.

Beautiful hotel with a great dinner and some traditional Thai dancing for entertainment.  (I said "Traditional" Thai dancing, folks)

I  don't think I would be having nearly as good of a time if I hadn't decided to study Thai.  Stay tuned for the next should be a good one!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Finally...A new blog update...catching up is hard to do...

How do I write about everything that has happened in the past ten months?  Well, I guess first by letting you all know that I will update this blog monthly from here on out.  I feel that it is important to keep you updated but more important to put my thoughts down so I don’t forget to remember how lucky I am to be able to experience this time of my life in a place like South East Asia.

My good friend from California, Brian White, visited me in July.  Having travelled the world extensively, Brian has been to Asia before so I was not worried about his acclamation to the culture.  Brian landed in Bangkok during the tail-end of the World Cup tournament and I made sure that he and I had a good place to watch it in along with the company of some of my good Thai friends.  Funny though, the Thai girls we were hanging out with, Ning and Am, wanted to watch the games in an English pub while Brian and I were looking for more of a Thai experience.  Alas, the smiles of the girls won out.

When the World Cup was over Brian and I enjoyed some down time on the beaches on Koh Samui before getting packed up and heading off to Cambodia to visit (again) the temples of Angkor Wat.  

This place amazes me every time I visit because just the time of day and the sunlight filtering over the century-old ruins changes the feeling and the look of the site.  

We engaged Mr. Sen and Mr. Leung, tourguide and tuk tuk driver, respectively, to be our guides.  Brian and I enjoyed the sunset from atop the temples with only a few hundred other people.  (If I have one gripe about this place, it is that it has become just too popular.)

Next stop was Laos.  I had to go for a visa run and Brian wanted to see Luang Prabang.  We spent a couple of days together in Vientiane, Laos, basically riding bicycles around the city, going to the gym and overdosing on the French-inspired baguette sandwiches.  Vientiane was pretty uneventful, but I realized that it was nice to be travelling with my good friend especially since he and I like a lot of the same things including eating and exercising.  Way to go, B-Dub! After a couple of days in Vientiane, Brian headed off to Luang Prabang while I headed back to Thailand to Chiang Mai where Brian would meet me again.  I LOVE Chiang Mai.  The city is small and old.  Bicycle friendly, too!  The weather is cool compared to the rest of Thailand.  The food is amazing too.

 Brian and I spent three days there just riding bikes around, hanging out with friends like Fon, James and Gan who I had met on previous trips there.  It turned out that Gan and his wife are pregnant and Brian and I got to go to dinner with the two of them and James and Fon.  A fantastic Thai BBQ buffet restaurant where you just sit and eat until your heart’s (and stomach’s) content!  

Finally, back to Bangkok where I said farewell and “Until next year” to my good friend Brian.

Next posting...Time to immerse myself in the country by enrolling in Thai Language School.  Take care everyone!

Friday, July 2, 2010

From this....BOS-SFO-BKK

From this...

To this....
Has much really changed except for the scenery?

Where do I begin...made it to Bangkok with virtual ease.  Stepping out of the airport, any airport really for me, brings a great sense of wonder, adventure and nervousness.  Though I have been through the Suvarnabbhumi Airport many times, this time was different.  I was not coming as a tourist but instead to as a new resident.  Maybe not of Bangkok or Thailand even, but someplace in this vast area called Southwest Asia.  Pardon my French, but fucking crazy!  I know my family loves me but I also know they must think I'm nuts.  Who would have thought that the youngest of the six kids reared by Tom and Mary Beatty would bounce from West Roxbury, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California to Southeast Asia?  And why, I often ask myself, do I continue to move on?  Running away from something or running to something?  I guess only time will tell.

After a night in Hua Hin, a little beach town two hours south of Bangkok, with my friend Sunee and her family, we all got into her sister Meow's (I know...I know) car and drove to Chomburn to catch the ferry to the serene island of Koh Tao for the weekend.

After lazing on the beach for a couple of days, Sunee (in green) and her family went home while I stayed on to catch up on some reading (Crime and Punishment), some swimming and some sun and seafood.

Five days later, I took the ferry to Koh Samui for a night.  That day, I watched online as my beloved Celtics lost to those damn Lakers.  Grrr....but it was pretty cool watching live.  The only thing that was missing was my cooking and my friends since we all would have been at Casa De Cornwall for the big game.

From Ko Samui, I flew back to Bangkok, probably one of my favorite cities in the world.  There is always just so much activity, diversity, delicious food and generally just unpredictable craziness.  And, with FIFA World Cup 2010 in full swing, I knew it might be trouble.  The games here start at 9 PM and 1:30 am.  Yikes!  And I want to live here?

The past two weeks or so have been hectic and fun all-in-one.  Amazing street food for about a buck a plate, great people, new friends, fervent Thai soccer fans, condo hunting, job hunting, and Thai language school searching.
31 baht (less then 1 USD) bowl of fresh noodle soup with sprouts and basil

I have not yet decided that Bangkok will be my home but since I have time, I want to make sure I do my due diligence.   Cambodia is itching at me and I will satisfy that itch when my good friend B-dub shows up on this continent on 8 July.

But, I have signed a short-term lease on a one bedroom condo in Bangkok.

 I have also enrolled in a three-month long Thai class so I can better communicate with my new peeps.  :-)

Until then, take care, my friends and Happy Fourth of July.  You all deserve to relax and enjoy your friends and family.  I only wish I was there to enjoy the festivities and my dear friends.