Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 21-27

With my first weekend over, I was now faced with what to do to occupy my time while Adam is in class. Sadly, not knowing a country's language and what locals often do during the day severely hinders one's options...

Still hesitant to do anything by myself, I decided to delve into studying Arabic to keep me busy... devoting up to 5-6 hours each day to it. (Sadly, I do not have anyone here that speaks it, so if you guys know anyone that would want to chat with me and help with pronunciation etc., let me know via facebook!!!) Needless to say, that much studying every day was quickly beginning to wear me out. I had to find something else to do for part of the day, after all, I am going to be returning to school almost instantly upon getting back to the US, I need to have some fun here! With this in mind, I made the decision to venture out into the city in order to buy some things for the apartment. To do so, I left the building and crossed the treacherous overpass to get to the other side of the highway so that I could catch some form of public transportation (which are almost all fraught with danger!!!). I was finally able to catch a SongTow (sp??), which is the truck-like vehicle I described in the other post that has a covered back and makeshift benches in the bed of the truck. As with most transportation here, it was extremely crowded leaving only the...( I dont know the technical term for it but it is the back door thing on a pick up truck basically that hangs down)... anyways, I stood on that thing for the trip, racing down the highway... an interesting experience to say the least.

Once I finally arrived at Future Park (the mall), I needed to rest so I headed up to the fifth floor and uploaded all the pictures I had taken up to that point... sadly Adam and I bought the best internet package our dorm has to offer and it is still to awful to allow us to upload any pictures. Thankfully, the internet here was superb and I was done in less than 30 minutes, but what to do until Adam's return? Hrm, American desserts sound excellent after incessant amounts of rice, let's head downstairs to Tops Market, the grocery store, and buy the ingredients for some non bake (wtb an oven) chocolate peanut butter bars! Delighted with my spark of genius, I was able to find everything I needed to make them (with some substitutions, of course--- for example, straight up crackers with sugar sprinkled on them instead of graham crackers... and yes they were as gross as they sound). Hands full of groceries, I took a taxi back to the dorm and immediately began my first cooking experience in Thailand, which resulted in a delicious reminder of home. In other cooking news, Adam, growing evermore tired of rice, has thrice cooked delicious stew, consisting of one potato one carrot and half an onion.

Other than cook, the weekdays were relatively uneventful; however, this weekend was quite exciting! We decided that it was high time to see a movie in the theaters instead of sitting around watching movies we had seen countless times. Feeling ambitious, we set off to the movie theater right near Future Park, about 20 minutes from our apartment. After being here for a week, I felt like I had a relatively good idea of how the movie theater would look... poor, rundown, offering more nasty seaweed flavored chips. How wrong I was (except about the seaweed chips of course)!!! This movie theater tops anything that I have ever even heard of in the United States. Sadly, they would not let me take any pictures there, but this two story behemoth was jaw-dropping to say the least (I plan to try to ninja take some photos on one of my next excursions). Suffering from shock, Adam and I stumbled about looking for where we had to buy our tickets. After a few minutes, we found the queue... but to add to the confusion there was not simply one queue, but two. We deduced later that the second queue was for those wishing to purchase "Emperor seats" and "Honeymoon seats," each was of course more expensive, but why? Well the Honeymoon seats, as you might guess, were basically two person couches. The Emperor seats were also amazing, complete with leg rests--- not to mention the theater you get to go to with them, which houses only around 20 people, nice huh? Surely they must cost a fortune! Wrong, they were around 500-600 Baht-- about 15$ which is indeed more expensive than in the US, but well worth it in my opinion. Not convinced? Neither was I, want to know why? Let me describe the default seat characteristics that even the cheapest of seats come with. First, they are all extremely comfortable with thick red cushions lining every inch of the seat. Next, every seat reclines a great deal to allow for maximum comfort with the least amount of strain on the neck. Finally, they all have a ton of leg room, allowing even my long legs to stretch out. With all these comforts, along with comparing them to US theaters, I was more than happy to buy a cheap seat. Knowing that the cheap seats were this nice; however, I fully expected to pay a decent sum for them... surely more expensive than the US... wrong again. These beautiful gifts from God were a mere 120 baht, about 4$ (compared to the 8ish $ we spend for subpar seating in the US). But, before we were able to get our hands on the tickets, we had to reach the front of the snail-paced queue. A little flustered by the time we were at the front, we quickly discovered what takes so long... every person has to select which seat in the theater they want, which movie time, and which type of seat. As usual, our lacking Thai skills led us to primitive sign language and anxious pointing, but we got the job done. Tickets to Karate Kid in hand, we headed to our theater, but were stopped midway and told that the other movie did not end until ours began. What to do? Well the ingenious Thai movie theater designers had already thought about that! They had a luxury waiting area where movie goers could wait and relax in amazingly comfortable furniture until their movie started. Finally, after all my anticipation had grown, we were let into the theater to discover the one flaw... 30 minutes of commercials and movie previews... thankfully I do not mind those too much. Surely after 30 minutes of previews, there could be no more delays? Nope... we were quite silly not to expect it! The salute to the king!!! Everyone in the theater has to stand to honor the commercial that plays before each movie, which shows pictures and video from throughout the king's life. These images all clearly try to portray him as a hero, with happy children singing cherubic songs in the background. The commercial goes so far as to insinuate that the king brings the people clean water via rain, seemingly asserting his divine powers. Though it was slightly bizarre, the children's tune was quite soothing and put me in a better mood :D. Sadly, the movie was not the best, but the theater and the experience were incredible... for the next several weeks Adam and I have decided to visit this place at least once a week, maybe even seeing a movie in Thai with no subtitles just for the experience (and the previews make it look hilarious even though we have no idea what is going on lol...) Furthermore, we decided that we must experience their Imax theater... which is sadly an hour away but must be incredible based on their normal theaters. This excursion will occur July 29th... which is when The Last Airbender comes out in Thailand.

I am happy to report that Thailand is proving much more entertaining than I had expected and continues to offer new surprises every day. I am definitely glad I came to experience it, and I am still awed by how cheap everything is here.... allowing us to do so much for so little!

شكرا على القراءة
Steven Henson
ستيفن هينسن

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