Friday, April 27, 2012

i love my soi.

it makes me so happy and hopeful to know that certain things in life really do exist.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

must. take. this. stick. out. of. my. ass.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

there have been certain days where i've had to ride a motosai (motorcycle taxi) up to seven times to get to where i need to.

i especially appreciate them when i'm not in a great mood because they never cease to brighten my day. 


today, i was tutoring a student and after i took one sip of the water his mother gave me, i could feel my stomach gurgle.

now i have to add that to the list of things i'm unable to drink here. it's odd though because i used to drink her water without any problems, but lately i've been having some issues with consuming stuff that makes me feel ill. i sort of think it has to do with my body changing a bit with age because there are definitely a few other minor things going on as well. or maybe homegirl just needs to clean her water filter.

another change i noticed about my body is i get goosebumps really easily. i'll be talking about or explaining the most mundane thing, and all of a sudden all the hairs on my body rise and i have goosebumps everywhere. it's comical because no matter what i'm talking about, it can suddenly feel really notable or important. what does it all mean.

Monday, April 23, 2012

i took this today while walking to the bus stop from my place. 

home is all around me.

"Reading is for dreamers. Poor dreamers."
said by the handsome character, sergei, in the film 360.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

one of my friends from nyc is traveling all throughout asia, and she just passed through bangkok for a few days. 

it felt so good to feel a bit of nyc in my home of the last year-and-a-half. as for now, it's back to a life of solitude here in bangkok.

Friday, April 20, 2012

i can not believe that it's already 4/20.

in exactly one year from today, two very close friends of mine are getting married in california, and i will be at their wedding most likely having the time of my life. hopefully by then, i plan to be out of bangkok and back home in nyc  moving forward with my life.

what a difference a year makes.

happy 4/20!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

i'm just a guy from flushing, queens....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

here are some more dogs of bangkok.

and to my pal in picture #2, i totally feel your pain.

"Plus, recent demographic shifts suggest that aloneness, far from fading out in our connected age, is on its way in. In 1950, four million people in this country lived alone. These days, thirty-one million... Today, more than fifty percent of U.S. residents are single, nearly a third of all households have just one resident, and five million adults younger than thirty-five live alone. This may or may not prove a useful thing to know on certain Saturday nights."
the disconnect by nathan heller in the april 16, 2012 issue of the new yorker.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

here are some photos i recently took.

and that is not my dirty bathroom with the jjhapaghetti on the sink. a korean mom gifted me with those, but i don't have a kitchen at my place. i accepted them out of politeness and then left them at the lobby bathroom of another building i tutor in (just trying to pass on the magic). on a side note, i've been eating jjhapgehtti for almost my entire life, and i never realized it was such a bite off of the word spaghetti. i thought about how this could have happened, and i think it's because i associated it as such a korean thing, and always read the packaging in that way as well. yeah, i'm not sure how that one whizzed right by me.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

i've really given up on the hopes of meeting any potential romantic interests here in bangkok.

with the same constant bullshit all the time, i just have to be realistic and accept that i am most likely not going to meet the love-of-my-life in this city. i guess it's better just to trust that this will happen when i eventually return home to nyc sometime in the future. oh well.
"What, are you stupid? I told you no eating in my jacuzzi."
from the song, curriculum vitae, by robyn.

Friday, April 06, 2012

a student that i tutor stuck these on today.

sometimes, there's nothing better than some good old stickers.

"You do it to yourself, you do
and that's what really hurts."
from the song, just, by radiohead.
"I'm ready to roll
Girl I'm with you
If they get you
They get me
So come on let's go."
from the song, G4L, by rihanna.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

here are some more of my photos of dogs in bangkok. 

my favorite is of the one with the two dogs playing---one as it rubbed itself against the bush while the second rolled around in the dirt nearby. thank goodness for the fact that thais are so kind to stray animals.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

there's recently been a noticeable increase of tourists in bangkok. with the summer season and biggest holiday of the year, thai new year, fast approaching in a couple of weeks, travelers from all over the world are flocking to thailand in droves.

and for any of you reading this who might ever make your way to bangkok, i thought i'd share a few tips about thailand's capital.

before i continue, i want to preface that i am in no way trying to generalize or speak negatively of this country. but instead, everything that i'm communicating has come from personal experience and are facts and information that as a foreigner in bangkok, would have helped me when i first arrived and didn't have a clue about anything. while thailand's catchphrase is "the land of smiles," let's be real---there are over 8 million people in this city and not all of them are as smiling and good-intended as one would think. for the most part---yes---thais are welcoming and visitors shouldn't have any problems here (there's a reason why there's usually tourists and foreigners present all year round). however, like anywhere in the world, there are also assholes here and the last thing anyone wants is their trip ruined by them.

my first word of advice is after arriving at suvarnabhumi airport and if your bangkok destination is accessible from the center of the city, if you can help it, ride the Airport Link instead of a taxi. the Airport Link is an extremely cheap, modern and fast train that is the only mode of public transportation from the airport. it runs from early in the morning until midnight, so if you've reached the airport and walking out of immigration and customs by 11:20ish-pm, make a run for it! from the Airport Link, riders can transfer onto all the other major modes of Bangkok's public transportation system, which would be the BTS (sky train) and MRT (underground subway). the Airport Link, BTS and MRT basically dot all the major parts of the city and are especially great during rush hour because bangkok traffic can be an absolute nightmare. if you want to forgo public transportation from the airport and opt to take a taxi instead, i suggest that you have small bills ready in the thai currency of the ฿฿ baht. the one great thing about taking a taxi in bangkok is that they are very inexpensive (i once sat in traffic for over an hour and the meter still only read ฿100 baht which is a little over $3) and convenient, but some drivers can be assholes who take advantage of tourists. having small bills exchanged before you get into a taxi is helpful because a small minority of these dicks will try to rip you off later on in your ride. i have a friend who after taking a taxi from the airport, the driver refused to give him his change back. i've only taken taxis twice from the airport and both times the drivers were quite rude. the man from the time when i picked up my sister and brother-in-law was particularly disrespectful and really pissed me the fuck off. thank god i came prepared and had small bills ready so he didn't have the chance to rip us off because i suspected it was one of the reasons why he was so ill-mannered when we were unloading luggage from his vehicle. on a side note, i've also had many friends and acquaintances who've taken taxis from the airport without any problems so consider that as well. taxis from suvarnabhumi airport have a ฿50 surcharge, and tipping is NOT NECESSARY in the country if you choose not to. of course i always tip if the drivers are nice or take me to my destination without any problems, but fuck any assholes who try to rip me off. i specifically wanted to share this tip because if that happened to me on my cab ride from the airport after arriving at my vacation destination, that would piss me off like no other.

having smaller bills ready for taxis is something i always do because in general, i'm paranoid and constantly anticipate trouble. i find being prepared with with the exact amount of money i'd like to give just makes things less complicated for me. another thing that took me some time to learn here was that at night, it's usually better to flag a passing taxi rather than the ones that are lined up and waiting in front of a venue. a friend told me of this when i first got here, but i didn't really believe in it at first. i thought the guys who had been waiting outside deserved to get the fare, but later on i learned that on a lot of occasions, these guys won't go by the meter and instead will demand a set fee. sometimes i don't mind it when i'm tired or desperate to get home because it's only like $1 or so extra, but having to deal with it on a constant basis can get quite annoying.

one last tip i want to share is that no matter what bar or club you go out to at night, please keep in mind that there can be sex workers working as well---and that you should always be sure of who you're chatting with if you met a person somewhere in a drunken stupor.

now that i've gotten all the non-pleasant stuff out of the way, here are some recommendations on what to do while in bangkok:
  • if you're out drinking and want a good meal around sukhumvit, check out the nighttime food stalls of sukhumvit soi 38. there are many vendors there and everything is super affordable and really good. plus it's a popular spot for post-drinking eating so you can also continue on with your imbibing with some beers.
  • i've never been a mall person before coming to thailand, but definitely check out the malls while you're here. they're a nice break from the hot weather and it's easy to spend hours in one without even realizing it. my favorite mall of the moment is at asok and called Terminal 21. this is one of the newest major malls of the city, and i basically go there everyday because they give free wifi when you sign up for it at a customer service desk. i also think that they have the tastiest and most affordable thai food court compared to any other mall here. the biggest and most major mall here would be Siam Paragon, which is in the heart of the city and definitely worth a visit.
  • khao san is the #1 destination for most backpackers and young people visiting bangkok. while khao san can be fun every now and then, i have heard of people spending their entire vacation there, and i think that's a terrible waste. i like to think of khao san as the equivalent to times square in nyc. they're both what many young people envision when they think of these two cities, are teeming with tourists from all over the world, and are avoided by most of the locals. one of the good things about khao san is that some of their bars are open 24 hours, which doesn't exist anywhere else here since all bars close at 2am. but aside from that, there's so much more that bangkok has to offer, and spending an entire vacation in khao san is like never leaving the glow of neon lights in times square.
  • EAT STREET FOOD! i basically live off thai street food because it's fucking good and really cheap. i've tried so many other types of restaurants and eating establishments here but perhaps growing up in nyc has spoiled me because i just don't find that a lot of legitimate places here serve good quality food. when someone tells me "oh you need to check out this restaurant" and i go there, i usually am somewhat disappointed by the quality and annoyed at spending a lot more than i would have if i just eaten some good old reliable street food. PLEASE NOTE that when you do eat street food, DO NOT DRINK THE WATER that is offered. when i first arrived here, i would sit to eat street food and noticed everyone else drinking the free water that's non-bottled and from unknown sources. since everyone else was drinking it with no problem, i thought why can't i and didn't realize what it was doing to my body. for the first month or so here, i would get terrible stomachaches and diarrhea. everyday, i would sit on the toilet and clutch my stomach wondering why i always felt so terrible. then i ate lunch with a friend one day on the street, and before our food arrived, he said he was going to go to a convenience store to purchase some water. when i asked why he doesn't just drink the free water they give, he responded that it made his stomach hurt. since then, i have never drank the free water that's offered and ALWAYS drink bottled water no matter what---i'm happy to report that i haven't had stomach problems since.
  • when purchasing bottled water here, straws are usually provided because some thais see it as impolite to drink it straight from the bottle. feel free to not take them though because it's pretty wasteful.
  • if you smoke cigarettes, do not throw the butt out on the street if there is a police officer nearby. i have heard from countless people who said that after throwing their butts on the floor, an officer would approach soon after demanding cash in exchange for not writing up a ticket or taking them to the police station. some of the police here target tourists in these underhanded methods to earn extra cash.
  • travel as much as you can. if you're planning to stay in bangkok for awhile, i suggest you check out some nearby countries or spots as well. thailand and bangkok are major travel destinations with tons of people coming through here everyday. therefore, traveling within southeast asia from here and checking out neighboring countries such as laos and cambodia is pretty straightforward. you can also travel to beaches and other islands as well, and whether it's by train, plane or bus, there's usually an affordable way to get there. 
  • ride a motorcycle taxi! be sure to determine the price before you depart however, and please tip if your driver is nice. 
  • the food in bangkok's chinatown is definitely worth checking out.
  • if you happen to be here on a weekend, you MUST check out chaktuchak market, aka JJ Market, which is this massive outdoor market that sells everything you could ever need in life.
  • to women with handbags, please always be on the lookout for passing thieves because my friend once had her bag snatched by someone on a motorcycle.
  • thai people absolutely LOVE and revere the country's King, and i can totally understand why. every house (and perhaps maybe even room) in thailand usually has a picture of the King up on the wall, and i am no different. i found this awesome old photo for ฿20 of the royal family that was taken decades ago, and looking at it really makes me think they're such a lovely family. this image does a great job of making the royal family just seem like the perfect family---i love the way the King and Queen especially look in it because they just ooze awesomeness. if i was thai and grew up here, i know that i would have been obsessed with them as a little boy and studying the photo as i lied on the floor. the country that thailand has grown into today is all thanks to the King, and this bustling metropolitan is like future-world compared to other nearby nations. sure, thailand has its issues but overall, it's developed and grown into a somewhat modern land that is visited annually by millions of people from around the world. i didn't realize just how much of a part that thailand played in the global economy as well until the news started reporting about all the factories and different businesses that were affected last year during the historic flooding. while here, please be respectful and don't dishonor or criticize the King in anyway because thai people do not mess around with that. also, at every single movie theatre in thailand, before the movie starts and the previews/annoying commercials are rolling, there is a special feature that's played. it's a short film dedicated to the king and royal family, and its duration is as long as thailand's national anthem. i personally love this video and am definitely more familiar with the thai national anthem when i hear it now. i also discovered that there are different versions shown, and the one i usually see at the more low-key theaters, lido and scala, is different from the one at every monstrously large megaplex. the versions at all the malls and ginormous places are digital and really cool. if you choose to go to the movies, don't be an asshole and stay seated while it's playing and the rest of the theatre is standing up---stand up and pay your respects like everyone else. in addition at 8am and 6pm every day, the thai national anthem is played everywhere and you must stop and pay your respects. the bottom line is, respect the King while you're here!
  • as i stated before, tipping is not required in thailand. however, if i've had adequate service without any problems, i always tip since i can empathize. the smallest bill of money in thai currency would be the ฿20, which is less than a dollar. leaving a ฿20 bill is sufficient in many instances, and if you're feeling extra generous, ฿100 would make somebody's day here. sometimes when i go out with friends, they'll leave the spare change which is sometimes just a few baht. i always find it somewhat insulting to leave just a few coins and while they assure me that even a few baht is adequate,  why not be good-hearted and just leave at least a ฿20 if you can. i'm not trying to say it makes me feel like a hero or anything, but it's just a small portion of what i would've given for the same service in nyc. and please note that i am not talking about tipping for street vendors, but in restaurants. 
  • keep your stupid bangkok puns and references to the hangover: 2 to yourself because nobody cares and you're not funny. 
these are all the basic travel suggestions i have for bangkok.

please keep in mind that in general, thailand is very safe and welcoming to foreigners and travelers. this country is special and there's a reason i've chosen to live here for over a year now. like anywhere in the world, as long as you travel with some common sense, you should be fine.

as for now, here is my mini-poster of the royal family.

enjoy thailand!