I love to go out to eat in Thailand as it’s always an adventure. The best food is to be had from the myriad of road-side stalls, some of which appear after nightfall along random sidewalks and others are more permanent affairs in markets or other long-established locales. There are indications as to what is on offer at some of these vendors but I long ago perfected the method of pointing at what I’d like to eat as I often don’t know the name in either Thai or English. In restaurants, I follow the same method of pointing at the picture of what I’d like. Sometimes these have a number. If English is involved, there is guaranteed to be at least one big example “lost in translation.” Here are a few of my favorites….
In my summary article late last month — “I’m Still Here!” — I mentioned having accumulated a number of photos on the theme of unusual, unexpected or humorous things seen in the Kingdom of Thailand. It is quite common here to see things that leave you scratching your head and the usual expat response is simply, “TIT” — short for “This is Thailand”, meaning “No explanation necessary”. The countless misspellings, odd translations, construction misalignments, entire families (plus the family pet!) riding tiny motorbikes, and so much more become part of the landscape after one has been here awhile. However, if you stop noticing them altogether that may be a sign you’ve stayed too long!
I’ve lived in the “Land of Smiles” for thirteen years and nothing really shocks me anymore. There are still pleasant surprises and for those I am grateful. Nothing here makes me really upset or angry (anymore). The occasional “unfortunate” incidents are dealt with in a more-or-less Thai sabai-sabai (“easy, no problem”) manner and quickly forgotten. I was even able to laugh at my near-arrest (paperwork completed but not filed) for walking on the sidewalk (“impeding traffic” as I couldn’t make room for motorbikes desiring a shortcut rather than using the road) within a day or so of it happening. Most of the “TIT” moments I take in stride and many I find endearing and part of the reason that I love living here. I hope that you find enjoyment in them as well.
This is my tenth consecutive Christmas in Thailand and they keep getting better. While there were a few stray decorated trees to be seen during my first few holidays here, each year seems to bring more and more signs of Yuletide spirit. The shopping mall where I work has slowly been adding decorations ever since the giant tree went up outside just before Halloween. As I strolled through the mall following my Christmas Eve classes, I saw plenty of images of Santa Claus and Christmas trees with enough Buddhist symbols to remind one exactly where you are. My favorite Thai variation is that instead of Mrs. Clause, we have “Santy” who seems to be Santa’s mia noi (mistress).
There are two photo albums after the break – the first illustrates my school’s holiday party this past weekend while the second features photos shot around the mall last night.
December 5 is the birthday of HM Bhumiphol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand. Known in the West as Rama IX (the ninth king of the Chakri dynasty), he is considered to be the father of all Thai people. It is because of this that his birthday is celebrated in the kingdom as Father’s Day (similarly, the Queen’s birthday on 12th August is Mother’s Day). I I find it rather interesting that very few Thai people that I’ve talked with seem to be aware that their king was actually born in Massachusetts, U.S.A. Today also happens to be my birthday so I have a nice holiday complete with fireworks and candlelight ceremonies. Very lucky, indeed!
November is shaping up to be a much better reading month than either October or September, or even August for that matter. No, I haven’t finished a single book yet but I have started several that are all gripping in their own ways. I’m averaging around 60 pages a day and am confident that I would read more if I wasn’t working so much (and trying to get caught up on other things in the limited amount of free time that I do have).
I did hit a milestone of sorts recently, surpassing 100,000 pages read since I started tracking my daily reading totals at the beginning of January 2010. More than 24,000 pages have been in 2014, my best showing yet and there are still two months left! In that same amount of time, I’ve finished 404 books. Thus, my reading goal for 2015 will be to finish my 500th book.
I completed this process yesterday after some difficulty. Indeed, the easiest part was the processing at the immigration office!
“Registration Form for the Owner of Residence”
Copy of Rental Agreement between Landlord/Owner and Resident
Copy of Landlord/Owner’s House Registration (tambian ban), Signed
Copy of Landlord/Owner’s Personal Identification Card, Signed
Photograph showing exterior of house/apartment building showing address
Photograph showing door (with number) of actual apartment/condo
One or more photographs showing interior of house/apartment/condo
Hand-drawn map of the neighborhood pinpointing exact location of home
Following in the wake of this year’s military coup in Thailand, there came a general tightening-up of immigration rules. The rules governing tourist visas and the so-called visas-on arrival seemed to change every few days during the summer with rampant rumors. Then the focus turned on those on the longer-stay visas – retired, working, and studying expats. It’s long been the requirement that if you work, you must have a work permit tied to your visa (either Non-Immigrant B or O varieties). However, there were many expats in the Kingdom who worked on tourist visas and never bothered with work permits or other formalities.
With the increased scrutiny have come new rules and regulations. The result is that even those who strived to maintain their legality are finding it difficult to remain abreast of them. Here in Phuket, we often have to follow “rules” that don’t exist elsewhere in Thailand. Each immigration office seems to have their own interpretation of what is required so it can be quite confusing when trying to track down the latest information.