News Flash: There are rumbles on the street that a good old fashioned Thai coup d'état is in the works.
Apparently, the Prime Minister of Thailand,Thaksin Shinawatra, is an...umm...interesting guy. (Think Bush, except smarter and richer.) He's been using his prime ministerly powers to privatize Thai companies and then buy them. For example, he already owns 2-3 oil companies and he tried to privatize and purchase the electric company, but he was shot down by the courts. He also recently used public money to fund a private venture called "Night Safari" in Northern Thailand (A tourist-trap zoo type thing). He made an agreement to open trade agreements with Kenya if they would give him 135 African animals to put in this zoo. A bit twisted, eh? Not only that, but it appears that Thaksin has recently been less than respectful toward Thailand's king...a *very* big mistake because the king holds the respect and the hearts of the Thai people. [However, to his credit, although it seems all his actions have his wallet at heart, many of them *have* benefited the Thai people, i.e. the amazing skytrain in Bangkok...]
Conveniently, Thaksin also owns most of the media in Thailand. When an ex-friend of his created a TV show that criticized the government, Thaksin it shut down, so the ex-friend started holding the show in the biggest public park in Bangkok and thousands of people were showing up every Friday to watch it. A week from next Friday, they've asked for a half-million people to show up, and who knows where things will go from there...
Disclaimer: All of this is word-of-mouth and half-assed internet research, so I could be spewing 100% pure hogwash.
In other less exciting news, my blogging time has recently been pillaged and plundered by my new love: that's right kids, the sport of kings: THAI BOXING!!! One of the scariest things I've done here so far was to walk up to the Thai boxing club after school one day and ask if I could join. Hey, I may be a pansy, but give me a little understanding: everyone else in it is Thai, and I felt more than ever like a stupid white bumbling farang the first time I stepped onto the mat for warm-up exercises.
It's funny how the most frightening things I try end up making me really happy. (Case in point: studying in Thailand) Now, several nights a weeks I stumble home with burning thighs, aching feet, and a ridiculously huge grin plastered on my face. I still punch like a girl, but I'm getting better...
Did I mention that our boxing instructor is also the NATIONAL CHAMPION in his division? He's this really cute small smiley guy, but apparently he knows how to kick ass in the ring. He's really down-to-earth, and he makes sure to spend one-on-one time with each student. My mind keeps trying to fold itself around this fact.[Waitaminute...you're the friggin national champion...and you're asking me to kick you? Grin. Okay!] I'm very tempted to ask him to slug me, just so that I can say I've been punched by the Thai boxing national champ.
One of my new found heroes is a past Thai boxing champ, Nong Toom. (S)he wore lipstick and a bra in the ring, had an incredible 50-3 record, and then used his(her) championship winnings to fund a sex change operation. She was then barred from Thai boxing and now works as a model/actress. Intrigued? You should check out the movie _Beautiful Boxer_.
If you want a sex change, Thailand is the place to be. There's a hospital here that's famous for it. One of the tremendously awesome things about Thailand is that the Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual/Queer community is largely accepted here. Part of the Thai culture is a "don't worry" attitude...if you can't do anything, don't let it bother you. This attitude has its dark side, but it also generates a nice sort of tolerance...if your son is gay, that's just fine.
It seems like every thirtieth person I see is a ladyboy (like Nong Toom). The lesbian scene here is really interesting. It seems pretty polar: butches (toms) and femmes (dees) and not much in between. Just like Thai ladyboys have an uncanny ability to be gorgeous, I've seen many jaw-droppingly handsome toms. It even seems like the straight girls are expected to be a little bit bi. It's not uncommon for middle-aged married women to have a young mistress or two on the side...
Halloween night, someone told me the Thai slang phrase "yet kang" means "I fucked a crocodile." It's used to emphasize a statement. Something like, "I totally bit the dust, yet kang." The hogwash disclaimer should be repeated here.
Running List of Thai Pronounciations of Laura:
Thai names tend to be rather long, so everyone here has a cute nickname (i.e. Pom, Ice, Boat, Wan.) In light of my farang name being so hard to pronounce, I've been itching to pick up a nickname of my own. I like the sound of "Not." Short, simple, with infinite punability potential and some interesting philosophical interpretations. Then again, I'm probably just going through another phase like the time in 6th grade when I found out my Dad wanted to name me Xinovia, and I had everyone call me Xinovia for a year. Whatever. Phases are fun.
"Thai Beer kicks like a Thai Boxer." -- Koh Tao ad
"Please offer your seat to monks." -- Bangkok Skytrain
ZOUK IS AMAZING!!! My new favorite Bangkok past time is to head to Fogo Vivo, a Brazilian bar downtown, take advantage of the lady's hour for a free chocolate magarita or caipirioska, and then jump into the beginning zouk class. It's kind of like the reverse of salsa with a tango connection...yummm... I think I need to spend a while in Brazil sometime...
Tomorrow is the last day of class. yetkang. How in hell did that happen???
I'm going to Cambodia on Friday. It's weird that going to Cambodia from here is easier than going to New York from Boston.
This is why I want to be Buddhist:
"I remember a Tibetan monk who had been tortured in a Chinese prison for 22 years. When he reached Dharmasala, the Dalai Lama asked him: 'What were you scared of most in prison?' He replied: 'I was afraid that I might lose my compassion for my torturers.'" Holy hell monkeys.
Whew. I have 1,001 travel stories to tell and no time right now to type them out...maybe after finals.
Until next time,
Not (your mom)