Weekly Photo Challenge: Regret

My submission:

Caption Contest: What would you write?

How would you interpret? (my comments to follow in a later post)

Here are a few to get you started:

I regret not taking the lens cap off.
Dark regrets
I regret sleeping through the event.
I regret missing it.

It’s time to start packing..

.. when one says or thinks the following:

  • on tipping: Wow. That’s 30 cents more than I would have paid.
  • on visitors getting food poisoning: I don’t have medicine. Suck it up.
  • on people getting scammed: It’s not my money, it’s not my business.
  • on house chores: The maid comes in tomorrow.
  • on not getting hot water: Just turn the knob towards cold.
  • on cutting someone in line: Let him/her get a taste of his/her medicine.
  • on DVDs: Just get the pirated on across the street.
  • on traffic: There’s space for me between the freight truck and the motorcycle.
  • on wine: $63 for Turning Leaf? Awesome, it must be on sale.
  • on ordering food: Medium spicy, a touch of bitter, and no sweet. Double up the meat but substitute soy sauce with oyster sauce. And make the sauce more stewy than runny. Don’t scrimp on the ginger and don’t try sneaking in the MSG. Serve it hot but not until the rice comes out first.

Sadly, all these thoughts went across my mind recently. While all this may be acceptable locally, in my saner moments, I refuse to accept this to become my standard. Living overseas has given me the opportunity to experience and understand another culture, but it doesn’t mean I intend to be less of an American. I want to refine my values, but not change them completely.

Signs of going native in Bangkok

I will never pass as a Thai, nor will I be able to think like one. However, two plus years in Bangkok, I’m beginning to notice signs of adapting to the local lifestyle.

  • Thais pass me on the sidewalk, sometimes clearly exasperated by my slow pace.
  • The food cart vendors automatically know what I will order.
  • I stop fighting the system.
  • I called the chaos a “system.”
  • I am told I drive like a local and it doesn’t bother me.
  • I eat khao soi gai as post-workout food.
  • I stop comparing.
  • I stopped being shocked (surprise still happens).
  • I laugh more than I fume.
  • I’ve mastered the “whatever” smile, the “whatever floats your boat is fine by me” smile, the “I’m hating this” smile, the Mona Lisa smile in addition to the natural genuine smile. Hint: it’s in the eyes.

service, right in your parking lot

My car has been dead for six months.. almost seven now that I think about it. The battery was at the end of its life, 7 years old perhaps? Compounded by the fact that I have the sense to not drive often in traffic clogged Bangkok, the battery died.

I don’t know why I waited so long to get it replaced. It started out with my waiting for a period of time when I’d actually remain in Bangkok long enough to take the car out and keep it running once the battery is replaced. Then deciding that I was simply too busy to leave work in the middle of the day and choosing to wait until the level of activity died down. Between the two excuses, time just flew.

My time in Thailand has taught me two things. Service here makes life either very easy or very difficult. The car I anticipated to be difficult so I avoided dealing with it.

I was so wrong. It couldn’t have been easier. I notified the front desk this morning, asking them to call a tow company to take the car to the mechanic. The receptionist blew a raspberry and asked if I was sure it was just a dead battery. Positive. I even took out the multimeter to test the voltage. In that case, she said, show the building engineer the car and wait upstairs for a phone call.

Five minutes later, I was called back town. Two men showed up on a motorcycle, with two boxes stacked between them. 3,000 baht and ten minutes later, my car’s lights lit back on as I started the engine. Despite the fact that one man was mute and the other didn’t speak a lick of English and thought repeating and yelling would make me understand better. I procrastinated six months dreading what again?

Just don’t use the word “alarm”

A colleague called in late this morning, confessing to having forgotten to set his alarm clock last night. Too amused to let him get away with it, I composed a list of

10 Better Excuses for Why You are Late

– The A/C broke down and I had to take three Benadryl pills to pass out in the heat.
– I was rowing down the klong to work when I got swamped by a speeding fishtail boat’s wake.
– The BTS was held up by a royal motorcade.
– The taxi took me to the wrong place way out of town.
– Unexpected visitors knocked on the door at 3am.
– The motorcycle taxi tried to overcharge me and I had to hide until tempers settled down.
– The water pipe burst and no one would come until 10am.
– My last fish died and I had to bury it.
– The maid accidentally threw out the fish and I had to dig it out of the trash.
– My soi flooded and no one could get in or out.

Sadly, each of these can and have happened to many of us. As for the fish, it’s an inside joke- he bought a whole school of fish in a baggie in the market and most died within a couple of weeks. He’s down to his last original one right now.

Haggling

As it goes in a majority of Asia, you need to haggle for your prices.And I’ve learned there are different styles depending on where you are.

I grew up in a Taiwanese household. Haggling is a loud, competitive, sometimes even insulting sport. The players treat it almost as a competition, to see who can hold out longer. And whose bluffs to really call.

I learned really quickly it doesn’t work in Thailand. Not when tourism is a major economy and not then the Thais maintain a culture of smiles. Instead, I recently finally discovered that silence is the biggest tool. Mixed with a little of Thai language attempts, the effect is far more, well, effective.

Me: *pointing* Thaw-rai? (how much?)
Merchant: An-ni… 150baht.
Me: *pretending to think* How about 60 baht?
Merchant: Mai dai. (can’t do) 100 baht.
Me: *pretending to think*
Me: *pretending to consider*
Me: *pretending to calculate*
Me: *getting a bit ansty and trying not to show it*
Me: *resisting the urge to shift weight*
Me: *really contemplating either walking away or paying 100 baht*
Me: *just about to decide to-*
Merchant: *pats my forearm and lower her voice* OK. 50 baht.
Me: *whipping out the wallet with alacrity*

40baht – breakfast on the street

Such an experiment always required follow-up. So I did the same for breakfast yesterday morning. My findings were more substantial.


Explained:
– Freshly squeezed orange juice for 20baht.
– Half a pineapple, sliced and ready to eat for 10baht.
– Thai breakfast sandwich, served diced (?!) for 10baht. Don’t ask. I’ve never had it before. I just saw it on the street vendor and said to myself, “There’s no way that would cost more than 10baht.” I was right.

I was so full with the food I didn’t get around to the juice until after lunch. Yuummm.