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I learned that the Thai national anthem is awesome.

I learned the value of taking pictures. My brain can only remember so much, and most of my memories have either escaped me completely, become harder to summon, or confused themselves with dreams. Pictures serve as a sort of cloud storage, making it less of a tragedy that I’m unable to recall most of the things I love most, something that I can only imagine getting worse as I age. Yeah, I know, I’m late to the party.

I learned that I like Thai street dogs more than American pet dogs.

I learned a lot about the things that I identify as – a black male of modest means. What those traits mean to me – and how I prioritize them – is very different for me than it is for others, and that’s both a good and bad thing.

I learned that the life of a human is no more resilient or promised than the life of an ant. If we want it to have meaning and value, then we have to give it meaning and value.

I learned that Khmer regimes never mastered the flying buttress.

I learned that the world is a small and incredible place.

I learned how to make friends like a child does, without judgment or prejudice, without searching for a reason to disqualify someone from friendship. I’ve made real friends on this trip, true friends, people whose minds I value and whose values I don’t mind. I’ve had conversations that were more invasive and lovely than I’d had in years.

I learned how to effectively negotiate the price of a painting of a lady playing a harp to an angry tiger.

I learned that the bland, soulless pop songs that I – in my irrational musical snobbery – so despise are beloved around the world and serve as a great way to bring people together who don’t share much else.

I learned that I’m not, in fact, able to defeat an elephant in single combat.

I learned that I love Cambodian women.

I learned about lifestyles of a writer that I hadn’t previously known or even imagined.

I learned, truly, that my history is not everyone else’s. The absolutes that I take for granted are not only ignored by many people, but considered entirely false by many more people.

I learned that being middle class in Thailand is vastly superior to being middle class in America.

I learned that nearly everything everyone told me about Thailand and it’s people  – and nearly everything I have previously said in this blog – was wrong. Thailand is a huge, diverse place. Most statements that generalize anything about this country (other than this one…?) are oversimplifications. In the same way that someone who had only been to Texas couldn’t really use that experience as a foundation to talk about Americans as a whole, my Thailand experience has been limited in a number of ways. To anyone reading this blog who is planning to come to Thailand – ignore anything else you’ve read in this blog about Thailand.

I learned that kids are actually pretty cool. Bleh…never thought I’d say that.

I learned a number of effective ways to hit another human being to cause as much damage as possible while keeping myself safe from retaliation.

I learned that the internet is the most powerful invention in the history of my lifetime, even more powerful than the cordless phone.

I learned some new ways to look at love.

I learned that there are 14 year-old children on this earth who, despite my significant reach, size, strength and “athleticism” advantage, would give me a serious, Rodney Kingian beating if I ever attempted to box them.

I learned that the Thai palette aligns perfectly with mine. In America, I’d always been baffled as to how people don’t eat sweets everyday and how every other store isn’t a dessert stand or candy shop. In Thailand, I’m about a Snickers away from Type-II diabetes.

My sister once asked me a question: Is there anything that, if you could accomplish it, would make you feel like anything is possible?

The usual things – running a marathon, winning a chess tournament, competing in the Olympics, learning another language, etc – were out of the running immediately. I overrate myself both physically and mentally, so I don’t imagine any of those things being so difficult for me that they would make me feel like there was nothing I couldn’t do.

Instead, I thought it’d be something socio-economic. Maybe brokering a deal with a bunch of older, wealthy men without feeling out of place or inferior. Turns out that wasn’t the right answer either.

Coming to Thailand has made me realize that anything is possible, and not because it was difficult. Other than the adjustment to having a toilet and shower head in the same space, much of Thai culture and life didn’t really ripple my comfort zone. Nonetheless, the things that I have seen, the things I’ve done, the people I’ve met – Lord, the people I’ve met! – and the lessons I’ve learned have taught me not only that I can do anything, but that I’ve always been able to do anything.

We all can. No matter how we were born or what we were or what we are, none of it restricts what we can be; that’s the beauty, the inevitable victory, of being human.

Back to ‘Murica. See yall soon.

Moses

Victory Monument

Victory Monument

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We left Pang Mapha the next morning to head to Chiang Rai, taking a van back through Chiang Mai to do so. We arrived in the evening, were joined by Jenna, slept in our wonderful and cheap lakefront hotel, then set off the next morning to check out the White Temple and the Black Temple (which we later learned is called “Black House”). The White Temple:

BEHOLD.

BEHOLD.

The most elaborate "No Smoking" sign in the world, I imagine/hope.

The most elaborate “No Smoking” sign in the world, I imagine/hope.

There were a few of these on the temple grounds, and for a dollar, you could add a little silver plaquething with your name onto one of these trees. A beautiful guestbook.

There were a few of these on the temple grounds, and for a dollar, you could add a little silver plaquething with your name onto one of these trees. A beautiful guestbook.

IMG_20130411_114942_188 IMG_20130411_115042_127
…was insane. The interior, which had a “no photos allowed” policy was stunning in every sense of the world. The artist who designed the entire temple (and continues to design it, with hand selected students. The project is supposed to take 90 years, continuing after his death) portrayed images of suffering and peace – with the former as a road to the latter – in incredible fashion, combining religious mythological imagery (demons, fire and brimstone, Buddhas, etc) with contemporary mythological and political imagery (everything from Hello Kitty to Batman to Harry Potter, the Twin Towers, etc) in a provocative and, for me, disturbing scene.

A tiny fragment of the interior photo that I found online. You can see Bumblebee from Transformers on the left side.

A tiny fragment of the interior photo that I found online. You can see Bumblebee from Transformers and Jigsaw from Saw on the left side.

From there, we went to the Black House, which didn’t have the immediate visual splendor of the White Temple, but was definitely a treat in its own right. As opposed to having a single primary attraction, the Black House was more of a temple compound, with a dozenish buildings containing various works of art, wood-crafted furnitures, and animals skins to convey an earthy, primal mood that was a stark contrast to the White Temple’s divinity.

The foresty grounds of the Black House.

The foresty grounds of the Black House.

White buildings in the center. Very striking given the deep green forest and other black buildings.

White buildings in the center. Very striking given the deep green forest and other black buildings.

A nicely carved door.

A nicely carved door.

One of the bizarre interior dining scenes in an art gallery, complete with black furniture and animal bones.

One of the bizarre interior dining scenes in an art gallery, complete with horned furniture and animal bones.

From the black temple, we took a taxi out of Chiang Rai and over to Pu Chi Fa. A google image search of Pu Chi Fa makes it clear why it was on our destination list – visitors get an unreal view from the mountaintop, complete with crisp sunrise and a low fog layer that makes it look like you’re living on Olympus. Unfortunately, the weather was unkind to us and we didn’t get the thick, lush clouds beneath us that we’d hoped for. Still, we did get to play a great soccer game with the local kids (we won, don’t worry. U-S-A! U-S-A!) and enjoy a beautiful, though not magical, sunrise from the top of the mountain.

Layers of beauty.

Layers of beauty.

The ladies.

I call this piece: A sign, a sun and the ladies.

The village shirt I mentioned in the last post.

The village shirt I mentioned in the last post. Holding on to my beanie so I don’t have to jump off the mountain after it if it blows away.

We left Chiang Rai that morning (after the sunrise) and headed back to Chiang Mai for the final and most anticipated leg of our northern adventure: Songkran. Songkran is the celebration of the Thai New Year. It takes place during the hottest days of the year and is a water festival where the Thai people blah blah honor gods blah blah peace and love.

Songkran is a three day water war and it the best holiday in the world.

The first of three weapons I would go through.

The first of three weapons I would go through.

Songkran parade.

Songkran parade.

Nothing is so fearsome as a squad of teenage boys with water guns.

Nothing is so fearsome as a squad of teenage boys with water guns.

Glimpse: Songkran Chiang Mai 2013, the World’s Largest Water Fight

^ That’s just a glimpse and doesn’t even begin to capture the full insanity of what happens when an entire nation decides to revert to grade school warfare. I couldn’t really take pictures as I didn’t want my phone wrecked, and there’s no point in trying to describe it: There are no words, my friends.

It was the perfect end to a perfect vacation during the perfect six months in the perfect country. The only downside was saying goodbye to some truly incredible people that have done a wonderful number on how I think, how I feel about myself and others, and how I treat each day I have for the rest of my life.

Five days and 1 blog post away from home.

Moses

What I’m Reading: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

What I’m Writing: The Lincoln Lions (novel) – 42%

What I’m Listening To: The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake

So I finished my summer teaching…:

Don't let the smiles fool you. These kids are monsters. Wonderful monsters, but monsters nonetheless.

Don’t let the smiles fool you; these kids are monsters. Wonderful monsters, but monsters nonetheless.

The newest class at Phanom Adun. Only got to know them for a few weeks, but I quickly came to love them.

The newest class at Phanom Adun. Only got to know them for a few weeks, but they had chutzpah.

Then left my town for ten days of adventure in northern Thailand. As an exercise in understatements, I will say that this last one and a half week period was one of the most fun and fulfilling endeavors of my short, beautiful life.

The adventures begin with several hours and methods of travel. A flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with Jordan, then a van from Chiang Mai to Pai, where we met up with Shannon. After a few hours hanging out in Pai, we took a paid car to Pang Mapha. Pang Mapha is in Mae Hong Son – Thailand’s northernmost province – and is famous for its hundreds of underground caves. It makes sense, then, that the first thing we did the next morning was to go out and see some of those caves.

One of the many treks from cave to cave.

One of the many treks from cave to cave.

From left to right: Chaya, Lyndsey and Foued. Some great fellow cavers.

From left to right: Chaya, Lyndsey and Foued. Some great fellow cavers.

We left all of our things outside each cave so I didn’t get any pictures of the interior, but it was so dark that my measly phone camera wouldn’t have done anything anyway. We went through three caves, and while each one was unique (one was essentially an underground river path where we were crawling on our bellies in a stream for a few hundred feet, and another was full of loose, brittle rock – which gave me a nice gash when a chunk of wall that I was holding on to fell off), they each offered the same feelings of being under tons and tons of earth and being in a place so dark that, with our lights off, it was literally impossible to see one’s hand in front of one’s face. Awesome experience.

The next morning, we hitched a ride over to a local village to hang out with hilltribes. They turned out to be pretty much just regular people (we expected neckrings and cockroach teeth; they had both regular length necks and cockroach-free teeth) that were really good at weaving. I bought a shirt (picture forthcoming), whilst Jordan and Shannon got some scarves.

Once one lady saw us and set down her scarves for display, the entire village came out to sell their wares.

Once one lady saw us and set down her scarves for display, the entire village came out to sell their wares.

Village lady getting her weave on.

Village lady getting her weave on.

A wall painted by the students of the village school.

A wall painted by the students of the village school. Vegetables, mustaches, a turtle, Despicable Me, and Happy. “Five of these things are not like the others…”

Leaving the village, we set out back to the guest house for what was supposed to be a relaxing, two hour trek through the woods. We had been told to simply “follow the river.” After walking for about forty minutes, though, we got to a point where there was no riverbank, only river and dense forest. Lost, we then turned back and followed the road, a winding 6 miles of uphill and downhill exhaustion. At one point, we stopped in the middle of the road and sat to regain our breath, check out remaining water supply and bury those who had died of dysentery. When we finally made it back to the guesthouse and asked why the gods had forsaken us, we were again told that we were supposed to follow the river. Literally. As in, get in the river and float back. Heh…city folk. We don’t know anything/think of swimming as recreational rather than viable transportation.

Seems like a reasonable way to go on a hike.

City Folk Pictionary: Family hike.

Shout out to Cave Lodge for leading amazing tours (Uncle Wat, our tour guide, was a 60 year old man. Impressive and emasculating) and being the friendliest, most accommodating guest house I’ve stayed at here in Thailand.

Check out The Things in the North: Part II for the riveting conclusions of our journey.

Moses

It’s been a while since my last post, so I’ll do a quick fast forward through some things that have happened over the last three or so weeks-ish.

Cambodia:

I’m not one for sentimental stuff and I always kinda roll my eyes at people that go to a town for one or two days then spend the rest of their life saying that they “fell in love” with the place or whatever, but… (ah, the golden “but”)…I kinda, maybe, really liked Cambodia. Angkor Wat was pretty much as mind-blowing as I expected, even for someone with my very poor understanding of architectural wonders (luckily, Kelsey was there to serve as our tour guide and explain how ancient Khmer regimes never mastered the flying buttress). I said it at one point during the trip, but it’s worth repeating that the building had a sort of …gravity as we approached it. I felt like it was pulling me towards it. Really incredible. And we watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat at sunrise, which was all the majesty of the intro to The Lion King wrapped into a single image.

NAAAAAAAA SIMENYAAAAA BABAQUICHEINABAH!!

NAAAAAAAA SIMENYAAAAA BABAQUICHEINABAH!!

We also visited Ta Prohm (the temple from Tomb Raider. Really fun) and the Angkor Thom temple complex (which was actually more impressive than Angkor Wat in a lot of ways), along with a flooded village (awesome), Asia’s largest lake (or something. I wasn’t paying attention when someone explained it to me) and the Siem Reap nightlife. I won’t go into exhaustive detail as I want to finish this post, but the Cambodia I experience in my time there was my kind of country. Not only because Cambodian women are gifts from the heavens, but also because Cambodian women are super, really, almost ridiculously good looking. Also, haggling is more fun in Cambodia and the one club/bar/lounge we went to was outstanding. And the women…

Perchin in Ta Prohm.

Perchin in Ta Prohm.

Major temple in Angkor Thom (I forget the name).

Major temple in Angkor Thom (I forget the name).

They build the houses up several stories because the entire town floods during the rainy season and they have to take boats/jetpacks to school

They build the houses up several stories because the entire town floods during the rainy season and they have to take boats/jetpacks to school

Krabi:

This last weekend, I went to Krabi. I’d initially planned to go with people, but then changed my mind and decided to fly solo (read: everyone ditched me #sadface). This was both good and bad for a few different reasons: This was good because I only really wanted to go down there to read books, play guitar and climb rocks. When you travel with other people, though, you gotta play nice and also do some things that they wanna do. This was bad because it was the first time I’d ever traveled alone and I’d gotten used to the experience of doing it with others.

The first day I was there was kind of a bummer.  With no one to prod me into being social and being energetic when I got tired, I didn’t really do much other than eat, play guitar and read. The second day, though, I realized that I was getting to do EXACTLY what I wanted. I didn’t really want to go out at night or even make any fulfilling social connections. Realistically, I was only being deprived of about 10 minutes of conversation that I could’ve used, but it was a small price to pay for having complete autonomy and free time. So the second day, I went to climb some rocks, play some guitars, and read some books and it was awesome. Funny story: I finished my climbing day with a 30 meter climb. About 25 meters up, my face was sweaty and my brand new glasses slid off and fell. At the time, I thought they’d only fallen to a rocky outcropping a few feet beneath me, but I later found out they’d fallen aaaaaall the way back to the earth. And they completely survived! Pretty sure I used up all my karma, though.

Pfft. Safety.

“When life gets tough and things get tragic, have a splife it’s ****in MAGIC!” This man was responsible for my safety.

Climbin

Climbin

Krabi is a good lookin' place.

Krabi is a good lookin’ place.

If you look closely, you can see part of the smoke monster.

If you look closely, you can see part of the smoke monster.

End of school:

Last week marked the end of the fall…or spring…or whatever semester of school, which means it was the last time I got to see many of my students. Sad times, yo. On the plus side, I’ll be teaching summer classes the next few weeks so I’ll get to see some of my students a few more times (including one of my favorite classes) and will also get a fresh new batch of seventh graders to destr- …er…teach.

The Phanom Adun glee club. New Directions ain't got nothin on us. The guy on my right is my Finn and the girl on my left is my Rachel Berry. No, they can't sing. None of them can sing even a little bit.

The Phanom Adun glee club. New Directions ain’t got nothin on us. The guy on my right is my Finn and the girl on my left is my Rachel Berry. No, they can’t sing. None of them can sing even a little bit.

My favorite kids from my favorite class.

My favorite kids from my favorite class. Yes, I absolutely have favorites.

"Father and son," my coordinator said as she took this pic. This kid alone was worth six months in Thailand.

“Father and son,” my coordinator said as she took this pic. This kid alone was worth six months in Thailand.

One of my favorite classes. One of my girls presented me with a rose towards the end of class. I was touched.

The three girls in front of me are budding musicians. One of my girls presented me with a rose towards the end of class. I was touched.

EP2 (Eigth grade)! I get two more weeks of these crazies.

EP2 (Eighth grade)! I get two more weeks of these crazies.

That’s enough of that, I imagine. Adam, Amy and Emily have all left Phanomsarakham, so I’m the last bastion of American freedom left in town. I’ll spend the next month teaching, writing, reading, fighting and struggling to learn a bit of Thai before I leave. Talk to yall soon!

Moses

What I’m Reading: A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson / The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

What I’m Writing: Various songs and The Lincoln Lions (novel) – 40%

What I’m Listening To: The Very Best of Prince by Prince

Hey all,

Long time no talk. So instead of getting my travel on, I stayed in town this weekend. There isn’t much to do in my little paradise of Phanomsarakham, but there’s at least enough for a few days and there are always books to read, so yay. Here’s a recap:

Friday – 9:13am: While teaching my M1s (7th grade) about sports, they name a few popular Thai sports, including Sepak Takraw. Sepak Takraw, which roughly translates to “ninja volleyball,” is a popular Southeast Asian sport that is similar to volleyball, except that…you have to be a ninja to play. Seriously, look:

Anyway, one kid raises a Sepak Takaw ball into the air, which I assume is the formal way to challenge someone, so I have some of the desks moved and ITS ON! About thirty seconds later, I’ve accidentally kicked the ball out of the second story window and the game is over.

Friday – 10:15am: On to my next class of M1s, where I’m also teaching sports. This time, no one has any sporting equipment, so I assume I’m safe. And I am, until I ask for a volunteer to demonstrate a sport. The students assume that I’m asking for a volunteer to, instead, fight with. Their choice of combat? Sumo. So the room harasses the class fat kid (there’s one in almost every class and it doesn’t seem to be a particularly shameful title) until he agrees to sumo the teacher. We sumo, he wins (I only kinda let him. Kids be strong, yo) and the class seems a little disappointed that I didn’t use my farang strength and launch him from the second story window. Life isn’t fair kids.

Friday – 8:09pm: Me, Adam, Amy and Emily went out to our town bar, Tam Tams. It’s a pretty cool spot and there’s live music every night, courtesy of the bar owner (who used to be one of our coordinator’s students) and his band. We had a good deal of fun and discussed a lot of important issues, such as Kurt Cobain’s street fight record. At one point, Emily accidentally proclaimed that Kanye West and Kobe Brant are the same person, just in different fields and I had to inform her that Kanye West is the voice of a generation, something Kobe is most assuredly not. Also, Adam proclaimed his love for our waitress for the evening, only to be turned down with a smile (because, Thailand). Turns out that her name, Ice, was also a descriptor of how cold her romantic sensibilities were. Life isn’t fair, indeed.

If it was fair, Beyonce woulda won. Just sayin'. U mad T-Swift?

If it were fair, Beyonce woulda won. Just sayin’. U mad T-Swift?

So that ends Friday. Earlier in the week, our instructor offered to take us foreigners to the local floating market in Bang Khla. The plan was to meet up at school on Saturday morning at 10:30am.

Saturday – 11:00am: Our instructor arrives and we head off to the floating market. I’d forgotten that I’d actually been there a few weeks earlier, but it was a different experience this time, especially with a Thai person to explain things. We started off with a several course lunch, then hopped on a small boat for a nice river cruise. From far away, we saw the massive statue of Ganesh and the gold covered temple, and stopped at a different temple that I don’t know the name of but assume that it must be called “The Bat Cave.”

Bats on bats on bats.

Bats on bats on bats

Ajarn Sompit (our coordinator) explained that the bats only stay on the temple grounds. There are the same types of trees right outside the temple, but the bats don’t perch in them. Strange stuff.

That's our fearless leader, Ajarn Sompit, in the life jacket. It's more to protect the river from her than to protect her from the river.

That’s our fearless leader, Ajarn Sompit, in the life jacket. It’s more to protect the river from her than to protect her from the river.

A really nice river mansion.

A really nice river mansion.

Thus ends Saturday.

Sunday, I met up with Pee Nut (my Muay Thai trainer. Pee is a title that means elder brother. We’re not related and, yes, I call him Peanut) in the afternoon. All semester, the rumor mill had been churning that there was a muay thai gym in Phanom, but we hadn’t found anyone that had any further info on it, other than that it may have possibly existed in town at any point during the last fifteen years. Well, after some top level sleuthing, I managed to get a lead. We hopped in Pee’s truck and drove about fifteen minutes away from town central and into the jungle. Lemme tell you, we were pumped. All this private training was good and dandy, but I wanted to get to a gym with other folk and do some damage (read: get knocked out by a Thai teenager six weight classes below me)! After stopping to ask directions a few times, we found it. Not only did it definitely exist, but it was still in use!

Unfortunately (read: fortunately), all of the fighters except one were asleep and the awake one couldn’t train on account of a broken rib. Still, I got to do a bit of bagwork and took their info so that I can go back, which I fully intend to do once I’ve done some serious cardio training. I was panting like Spongebob after about 20 minutes of bagwork.

SQUAREpanting, that is! Ba-dum-tsssshhhhh!

SQUAREpanting, that is! Ba-dum-tsssshhhhh!

After practice, I went home and ate all kinds of delicious, unhealthy stuff. I’ll start my cardio tomorrow or something.

Till next time!

Moses

What I’m Reading: Striking Thoughts by Bruce Lee and After Dark by Haruki Murakami

What I’m Writing: Short Story and Flash Fiction revisions

What I’m Listening To: Ivy League: Kick Back by CyHi The Prynce

See what I did there with the title?

Anyway, I figured I’d make an entry that could actually be helpful to the people of the future who want to teach and live in Thailand, even though we’ll have teleporters by then so they could live in their home country and still work in Thailand. The most pressing question is typically “What is your day to day like?” Honestly, I only teach three or four hours a day and am done with the school day by 3:30pm, so I end up with a lot of the day to myself?

“What do you do with all that free thaim?” you ask, spelling “time” the same way I did in the title, you clever devil. Read on!:

1. Hobbies

This guy knows what's up.

This guy knows what’s up.

Those that know me know that I love myself some hobbies. In fact, I think I have enough hobbies that having hobbies is my hobby. Hobby hobby hobby. It’s a funny word.

One benefit of living in a country that has both a weak currency and an inexpensive standard of living is that you can have as many hobbies as you want and not be considered financially irresponsible. Buy an instrument, take a class, learn the language. It’s basically free and you’ll be getting better at something.

Among other things, I’ve been doing archery every other weekend in Bangkok. Ramkamhaeng University has free archery lessons for beginners every Saturday morning from 10-11am and the only fee (other than travel) is a 300 baht (10 dollars) yearly membership fee to their massive sports complex that would allow you to do everything from archery to rockclimbing to Afghan goat carcass polo, I presume. I took up archery because it’s something I’ve always wanted to be good at and doing it in the States can be pretty expensive. In Thailand, I take a two hour van to Bangkok, a mass transit (airport rail link) to the university area, then a cab to the campus. I do the opposite to get back home. All in all, the trip costs me about 350 baht (about 12 dollars). In the states, that wouldn’t even cover the gas it would cost me to drive one way to the nearest archery club, much less the monthly classes fee or equipment rental.

2. Lifestyle/Spirituality/Etc.

If your yoga teacher hasn't taught you this yet, go get your money back.

If your yoga teacher hasn’t taught you this yet, go get your money back.

For religious people, I’d recommend finding a place to worship. It’ll give you a bit of familiarity to relax you and minimize homesickness, and it’ll also give you a community here in Thailand to support you. Thailand is a pretty diverse and international country, so I’m sure you could find something, depending on where you live; as long as you’re not a Scientologist, which I’m going to assume doesn’t exist in the future anyway.

Other than religion, there are plenty of options for spirituality, reflection, meditation, etc. My spiritual activity of choice is martial arts, so I’ve taken up Muay Thai lessons from a teacher in my town. Muay Thai actually has a number of cadet branches based on the region of Thailand they developed in, so mine is more specifically called Muay Chaiya. My instructor is part Pillsbury Doughboy, part Tony Jaa, so the lessons are pretty enjoyable. And he doesn’t charge me, so there’s that. While it helps physically, I think anyone who has studied a martial art for any length of time will tell you that it affects how you think and how you interact with people around you and how you sleep at night as much as it affects your muscles and balance and killing ability.

3. Media

The-Simpsons-066

This is a big one for lazy people (I guess. I wouldn’t know). There are days when you don’t want to go anywhere or do anything physical or social, and it’s important to have things to do at home. Books, movies, music, newspapers, holograms, and virtual pets will all make your life easier. I’m a caveman, so I brought a number of books with me instead of getting an E-reader, but you shouldn’t be like me. And for the 3 of you who don’t steal music and movies, I guess you can stock up on those too.

Additionally, video games. I’ve gone back to playing Rome: Total War and I’m a better, cleaner person because of it.

4. Travel

tumblr_lxgip8OrSA1r3wszso1_500

Some people don’t like to travel, and I definitely understand that. If you’re not the type, then replace this with “being social.” I grow weary of interacting with people, but I use every other weekend to travel with my fellow teachers to different exotic locales. It’s always fun and educational, and it’s good to remind myself that there are other people in Thailand that are just as inept at speaking Thai as I am.

Bangkok is the central hub of travel for all of central Thailand and it’s almost always easiest to go through Bangkok (Mo Chit bus station for long trips and vans at Victory Monument for places near Bangkok) to get to where you’re going. Any of the islands (Ko Samet, Ko Chang, Ko Konut, etc) are worth a visit, as well as Chiang Mai in the north, the various national parks and really every single square inch of Thailand. There’s a lot to see.

5. Preparing For the Future

You're gonna need a lot of preparation...

You’re gonna need a lot of preparation…

Ah, yes.

No matter how much you’re enjoying yourself in Thailand, most of us will leave this paradise to go back to our underwhelming lives in whatever terrible first world country gave us citizenship. Because of that, you should always be working, at least a little bit, on the life you’ll lead when this is over. Filling out job applications or updating your resume or what have you. Call your mother every now and then, so you have somewhere to live when you go back penniless. If you’re an artist, work on your art. If you’re a normal person, try to find volunteer activities or workshops in your field that will look great on that resume you should’ve updated three sentences ago.

You may not enjoy it since there are always more fun things to do in Thailand than worry about home, but you’ll appreciate if you do it and hate yourself if you don’t. Believe me. I wrote this whole blog post to avoid finishing a grad school application.

Later!

Moses

What I’m Reading: America Again: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert

What I’m Writing: Everything but grad school apps

What I’m Listening To: Life is Good by Nas

I’ve accepted that I won’t be a particularly good poet until I’m old and mustached, but I try to write one every now and then to practice wordplay and what not. I wrote this poem back in October when I went to visit Cade in Vegas and it wasn’t at all about travel, but now that I’ve left the country, I realize that it’s entirely about travel. So there (or here, rather) you have it:

All The Things You’ve Forgotten

Remind me

 

Of your left hemisphere brain

Its long and lovely attitude

River grooves, tributary thoughts

And the continental drift of your countenance

 

The way your ears flushed

And your cheeks perked up

And your upturned teeth filtered tropical

Rain from the thunderous Brazilian sky

 

Your eyes were a summer in Greenland

Roads from the coast

To the national interior, teeming

With lilies and hyacinth

 

Mozambique swept your hair

In strips of willow bark, in flashing firelight

Drum circles by the watering

Hole in step with your shadow

 

Electronic billboards, concerted flashbulbs

Our Korean weeknights

And your karaoke lips a warm inch

From the microphone

 

You are my work desk, my pain

grotto, summer CD full

Of anthems, my inside

Joke, tribe and chieftain

 

You are my rent-week paycheck, my go

to dance move, escape route, dead

End, terminal wellness, my holiday scarf

The only memory I need to keep

 

This is my pretentious face.

Till next time!

Moses

What I’m Reading: America Again: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert

What I’m Writing: Songs and Novel and the last few Grad stuff

What I’m Listening To: Blunderbuss by Jack White