10 October 2018

Dear Lola,

It’s week three in Bangkok. I still have a hard time imagining I’m in Thailand. Even though I’ve always wanted to come to this side of the world, it all happened so quickly that my mind is still in Europe.

I’m fairly alone most of the time here which I expected. I assume the longer I’m living like this, the better I’ll get at finding the expatriate communities. I think that’s something to look forward to with this lifestyle.

I’ve got a friend from Kansas City studying here who has introduced me to plenty of people. I enjoy hanging out with them, but I try to picture myself in her shoes. I showed up almost unannounced and she’s done a wonderful job of including me.

However, I certainly wouldn’t want a friend from home moving to Malta while I was there. While in Malta, I tended to romanticize being so removed from my life in the States. So, I try not to invite myself to be a part of their fun too often, if I can help it. I don’t want to crash her semester abroad.

I don’t mind the loneliness, actually. I wouldn’t even call it loneliness. I’m alone, but not lonely. Since it’s rainy season in Thailand and it rains almost every day in Bangkok, I have plenty of time to spend in my room. It has been a while since I’ve been able to spend leisure time without feeling pressured. That’s given me more time to do things I want to do like write letters.

I think the cost of living here aids in pressure-relief, too. I know that my standard of living is lower than most peoples’, but I think you would like it here.

Today, I went to the Post to mail a letter home, bought five liters of water for the week, and stopped at my favorite food stand for lunch. You’d never guess that for all of that, I only spent 70 Thai Baht which is equivalent to exactly €1,88. And my stomach is full. That puts the €0,70 pizza in Malta to shame.

The lady that works at the food stand is so sweet. Since it’s across the street from the Post, I eat at her stand a few times a week. Her face and eyes get really wide and she throws her hands in the air when she sees me. It makes me happy and she always has a big smile on her face. Thailand has a nickname that fits it well; “The Land of Smiles.”

She doesn’t know any English and I don’t know Thai (duh) so we don’t communicate very efficiently. A lot of times, I just stand and become hypnotized by the technique she uses to cook my food. Without me noticing, a car or scooter will creep up the narrow road and wait to slip by me. She’ll holler at me to move out of the way and I’ll snap out of my daze and apologize for the hold-up.

Today, while waiting for my meal to cook (it was so spicy, my eyes started to water just from the steam that rose from the pan), I asked the lady what the meal was called. She usually starts preparing the meal before I even ask. Today, she made me point to it and try to order in Thai.

She helped me step-by-step with the right sounds to make. The Thai language is so much different than any other language I’ve heard in my travels. I’m not even sure how the words were separated.

She wrote the name of the dish, but that didn’t help my pronunciation. (Though, the Thai alphabet is pretty nice-looking when it’s written down. I’m fairly tempted to get a tattoo in Thai – tell me that would be the stupidest idea).

After I finally ordered my meal correctly, she started moving around the room, picking up random objects and making me repeat after her. She probably picked up around thirty objects as if I was going to remember all of them. So, in case you need to know the Thai word for a wooden stick used to crush peppers, I can let you know (kidding, I don’t remember already).

On my way back to my accommodation, I saw this shirt out of the corner of my eye. I had to get it.

Upon first glance, you may see three young men with long, grungy-looking hair and assume it’s the band Nirvana. But, in fact, if you take a closer look, you won’t see Kurt Cobain. You won’t see any of the members of Nirvana because this actually isn’t a picture of Nirvana.

It probably started as an honest mistake, but when the shirt became more popular because of it, I’m sure they started to reprint it and make money off of it. I bet I’m not the only one with a shirt like this, but I can certainly hope I am because I love it.

So far, I think the shirt sums up my time in Bangkok perfectly. Every day, it’s just not quite what you’d expect and that’s the reason I’ve enjoyed it so far.

I still have plenty of things to look forward to here like sitting down for a chat with a monk, a Muay Thai boxing lesson with a local I met, a visit from a few friends traveling through Southeast Asia, and of course, a world-renown Thai massage.

My room is built on top of a Thai massage parlor. Every time I exit my building, one of the girls (or “girls”) asks me, “Massage? Thai Massage?” (imagine an accent). I tell them no and then they say, “Happy ending, Mister. Happy ending!” at which point I usually laugh because I’m too childish. I think I’ll hold off on the happy ending.

By now you’ve been living in Paris for about two months. I can’t believe it. Did you know Bangkok is the most visited city in the world? Every year, about 22-million people visit Bangkok. Paris is not far behind on that list. You have to deal with 18-million tourists per year which is the third-most visited city behind London (20.5m). . . Damn tourists.

That means we live in two of the biggest cities in the world. We’ve come a long way since Msida.

Miss you Lo Xx,