Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bob Dylan is a Terrible Musician

I can never think of a title for my blog entries, but this kid next to me in the internet cafe is watching a Google video of Bob Dylan and I just want to comment that I think Bob Dylan is a terrible musician and I don't know how he got famous. He should've just written good music and had other more attractive people with actually pleasant voices sing his songs.

Just like at the Beijing Olympics when they had a cute little girl lip-sync to another little girl's voice cause the second girl (the actual singer) had a snaggletooth and wouldn't have represented her country as well. Those Commies.

This lady I know from my mission (not a member, never really an investigator, but more than just an English student) here in Don Muang let me borrow one of her extra motorcycles and that makes life so much more convenient. Except for tonight. I hit a stray dog and wrecked the motorcycle and killed the dog ... I kid.

No, but I parked it at Big C in the motorcycle parking lot. The guard on duty at the time said if I came back in the middle of the night and the gate was locked to get the guard at the other end to unlock it. So I get there at about midnight and run into this other guard who was just a total prick and told me I'd have to come back and get it in the morning.

When he went back to his guard booth I stuck around and pretended like I was on the phone while plotting a way to squeeze the motorcycle through the loosely locked gate, but fortunately I didn't have to go through the trouble cause another guard at my end came back to his booth and totally helped me out. He's a man who knows the meaning of customer service. It was kind of a hassle for him, but eventually he got the bike out for me and I got home on my own. What a nice guy.

The reason I parked there in the first place was cause I hopped a bus down to meet Naam in Asoke and we went to an MTV party together. One of her good friends is the art director for MTV. He just hooked me up with a photo shoot on Saturday at Jatujak Park so I can have a portfolio to start with. He got us into the party too. It was chock-full of celebrities and musicians and good music and free drinks. Thaitanium and Buddha Bless were there hanging out upstairs.

The leader of the hip-hop group Thaitanium, Khan Ngoen (ขันเงิน), was just chilling on his own so I went and chatted him up. We talked for a good 20 minutes back and forth about how things are going with his group and my efforts to become a Thai rockstar here. I ended up getting his number and he saved mine and he told me to give him a call whenever I need any help or info or anything. That was a lot easier than I figured it would be.

Now I just need to do that with a few more celebrities and producers and get my name out there. I also got the number of this girl Honey that was giving out free Hang drinks cause she said she wanted to know more farangs to be able to practice her English ... and plus she was cute.

Let's see ... what else to write about. There's some stuff been going down that it would be so helpful to just vent about, but this probably isn't the best venue to do it in. Looks like a blog isn't exactly the outlet I thought it would be. What a waste of time. Suffice it to say that I'll be moving out of Don Muang because I'm feeling a lot smothered by some of the members here. Plus, I'll be moving closer to downtown Bangkok which will be a lot more convenient.

On Sunday Sister Pu's daughter, Naam, got baptized and she asked me to baptize her cause we've gotten to be pretty good friends. That was special. When I first heard she'd decided to be baptized I honestly wondered if she was really ready or if she was just doing it because she felt like it was a good thing to do, but after listening to her testimony at her baptismal service I know she was more ready than a lot of investigators I've seen get baptized in Thailand and elsewhere. Her testimony is solid.

Last week I went to Siam Ocean World with Kami. That girl is gorgeous. And I like her a lot. Is that giving away too much in an open forum? I don't care. I said it and I'm keeping it there. It was pretty cool, but not very big. I gotta shake hands with a sea turtle ... is that what they're called? I forget some English words sometimes. You would think that those would be replaced by a whole load of new Thai words, but I still feel like my Thai is kind of broken right now. These next couple months should give me some time to heal it and fix it.

I also went down to Pattaya with Kami and a couple of her friends from high school. The beach down there is pretty, but nowhere near as beautiful as Krabi. And plus there are way too many farangs in Pattaya. I hate farangs. They don't belong in Thailand. I don't consider myself one. But I don't consider myself Thai either. I don't know what I am. I guess I'm just the mutated baby that no one can diagnose ... just like SYS was when I was in it.

While we were chilling on the beach this guy came up doing Henna tattoos. He sat down and put the pen to my arm resting on my knee. I thought he was just gonna show me a little sample, but before you know it he's done a whole scorpion and then a sun with a ying-yang in the middle to boot.

Granted, I could've stopped him at any time and been like, "what do you think you're doing?," cause I never really told him he could, but I didn't. And toward the end I realized he was gonna want his money. I used the fact that he didn't even ask to haggle him down from 300 to 150, but I probably still got ripped off. Plus it got smudged soon after anyway and didn't have time to stick. What a waste.

I'm still growing my hair out. It's pretty sexy. I don't know if I'm getting a bit chubbier or if I notice that I am kind of chubby cause I hear it so much from members who mention that I'm fatter (a lot of it is that I'm just bigger in general from going to the gym after my mission ... I was scrawny on my mission), but I gotta start exercising ... even in spite of the heat.

I can't think of anything else to write about right now. Oh yeah, one thing: Ernie Halter sings this song called Allison and the name "Allison" is in the chorus. I wanna change it up to be about Kalasin (my greenie area) and make the lyrics fit my feelings about that little city. That'd be fun. I just wrote that so I won't forget.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Experiencing Thai Racism Firsthand

I'll be completely honest: I hate writing on this thing. It hasn't turned out to be the stress outlet quite like I thought it would be so far.

Last week my friend Andrea flew in from Bali. I say friend, but for all I knew we were only friends through Facebook, even though she's from Colorado. Come to find out that she went to Berthoud High School! ... but only for her senior year and that was the year I was in Norway.

She stopped in Thailand on one of the last legs of her almost yearlong world travels. I put her up at President Wisan's house and spent a couple days taking her around to see the sights in Bangkok.

We went to see the Ancient City which I know all the missionaries love to hit up on P-days. Truth is, it was boring. We just rode bikes around and saw smaller versions of temples and stuff that you can see all over Thailand.

On the way there we stopped by the Erawan Elephant Monument (pictured above) to snap some pictures. What I heard back in my missionary days was that Thailand was given some sort of educational grant and then took all the money and commissioned an outrageously large 3-headed elephant statue. It probably has some religious significance too ... almost every weird statue in Thailand does.

That afternoon we went to the Crocodile Farm and THAT place was definitely worth the money. Speaking of money, Andrea offered to pay my way cause I was broke and she probably would've gotten a tour guide anyway if I hadn't taken her around. So on my end I tried to get the best prices possible.

The ticket prices are about a tenth as cheap for Thais as they are for foreigners so I went up to all the ticket windows and in my best Thai told them I left my citizen ID at home, but that I had my Thai driver's license with me. The were so surprised to hear a farang speaking Thai and claiming to be one of them that they always gave me the Thai price ... EXCEPT for The Grand Palace which I'll get to.

The Crocodile Farm had about a million crocodiles, I swear, including a freakshow of deformed crocs. There was also the cutest little baby chimp. We could play with her all we wanted, but they wouldn't let us take pictures cause that's how they make their money. There were elephants and baby tigers too (including white tigers) to play with and a crocodile show (where the trainers put their heads in croc mouths) and an elephant show (where the elephants walk tightropes and stuff). It blows my mind that elephants can walk on two legs.

Oh yeah, and we went "croc fishing" ... swinging chicken guts from a pole and trying to get the crocs to jump up and snap at it. Plus there was a whole zoo inside the place with only a fence between you and the animals. Keep your fingers to yourselves.

The next day we took a boat ride down the Chao Phraya River to get to The Grand Palace. The farang price is 300 baht, but Thais get in free. I walked up to the gate and flashed my driver's license, but of course they pulled me aside and called their superior over. She was this stingy lady with a stick up her butt who wasn't falling for any of my farang-speaking Thai charm.

I guess I've gotten a little too self-centered since I've been here and assume I can get my way anytime I want because it really put me out that they wouldn't let me through for free. So I started getting a little cheeky with them and accusing them of being racist just because I had white skin, reddish hair, and blue eyes. Of course, that didn't help my case at all, but it let me blow off some steam. In the end, I had to pay to get in, but if I wasn't there to take my friend through, I would've just left. The Grand Palace ain't all that great.

Then we hopped on the train (which I rode for free) and went up to Ayutthaya to see the ancient temples and let Andrea ride an elephant while I walked alongside as the photographer. The mahouts were friendly guys and they told us to go outside the city a ways to the elephant village which is less of a tourist trap. We headed out there on our rented motorcycle and that place was so much cooler. There were tons of elephants there including these playful toddler elephants that kept trying to knock me over.

So I think I helped Andrea get a good sampling of what the Thai culture has to offer before she flew off to Greece. It's been raining a lot lately and the streets always flood. I've been on some more dates. I'm staying healthy, but the spicy food runs right through me. I've made some more contacts for the rockstar dream, but so far nothing solid. Mostly I'm just a procrastinator.

Oh yeah, I shaved my face. It's always weird going clean-shaven after being so hairy. I've been here for a month and my parents haven't called me once. Speaking of phone calls, here's my cell phone number: 082-089-2265 (011-66-82-089-2265 including the international and country codes).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Teacher Weston"

I'm really tired. Thailand is tiring. It's hot. And all the spicy food gives me "broken stomach" again. I went up to the north of Thailand last weekend. My friend Keng and her friend from New Zealand wanted to go up there.

We went to church up in Chiang Mai and got some massages and did some late-night market strolling and spent a whole day on a tour doing everything from whitewater rafting, to riding elephants, to stopping by a butterfly and orchid farm (lame), to driving to a waterfall which was too dark to see by the time we got there.

It was fun, but not too exciting since I've done all that before and Chiang Mai is old news to me. I think I like the south better. The elephant riding was fun though because I convinced them to let me ride my elephant bareback again. And this time the mahout let me basically just ride it on my own and he had me wash it down and then walk it back to the camp myself.

We saw a couple monkeys too. One of them was tamed and being raised by a local family, but it was still so playful and crazy. It's hands and especially fingernails are so human-like it's almost creepy. The other monkey we saw was more wild. I gave it a bunch of chewing gum and despite the fact that it got stuck all over the fur on its hands, it was actually chewing it like a person.

The major reason I wanted to travel to the north was to see the Modhuang family in Phrae (just outside of Lampang). They are the family I baptized on the last Sunday of my mission when we were in Lampang during our SYS tour. Their conversion story is miraculous and they're still active and are now preparing to go to the temple. It was awesome to see them and just feel the love, although I can barely understand the northern dialect.

Right after I got back I turned right around and left to help with an English camp in Rayong (south of Thailand). Those kids there were so cute! And so good at English too. They were only about 10 or 11 years old, but when I asked one girl what things were associated with global warming she actually said "deforestation."

At midnight one night I went out into the ocean to take a swim. It was completely dark outside, but the water was so clear I could still see my feet through the water. There was a lightning storm going crazy right on the horizon. And when I would move my hand through the water it would glow! I thought it was light reflecting off the bubbles, but it was actually fluorescent plankton that were glowing green (like in The Beach). I chased around some small squid and crabs too.

The English camp was fun, but it was more tiring than I thought it would be. Now I'm back in Bangkok and I thought I'd be done with the whole travel and sightseeing thing for a while, but a friend just flew in from Australia and I'm gonna take her around to see some of the sights in Bangkok over the next few days. At least it will be some stuff I've never been too so it'll be a new experience for me too.

The other day I got these two cold sores in the back of my throat and they still hurt like nuts. Like it's hard to even talk or swallow. I think they're right on my tonsils. What are the point of tonsils anyway? I was thinking about that today. I should just get mine taken out. Never mind ... I just researched it and it sounds painful.

I went to the Asian Hip-Hop Festival at the Impact Arena last night. My friend Naam took me cause she had two free tickets. Hip-hop groups from 6 or 7 Asian countries were there. A lot of them weren't that good and it was kind of ridiculous listening to them try to be all gangster in English when they still had thick Asian accents.

The group from Malaysia (Kartel Records) was awesome though. Thaitanium (Thai hip-hop group) was good too. I like listening to their stuff. And besides the group from Japan (just okay), it was a pain in the butt (literally) sitting through the rest of them. We were there for almost 7 hours. The last rapper to perform was Nas (from America). It was cool to see him perform, but his lyrics are all too political for me.

My facial hair is slowly disappearing. I'll be clean-shaven in no time. The long hair stays though. I finally got my Thai driver's license though. It's good for 5 years and in like 11 Asian countries. จบ.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Too Much of the Thai Police Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Yeah, I know I just wrote a post, but that was about my trip to the South. I drove to the embassy the other day (to get a new license haha). A cop pulled me over cause I wasn't wearing my seatbelt. I pretended I didn't speak Thai and spoke only fast English. He asked for my license so I gave him my Thai one and he pointed out that it was expired. I just kept talking a lot and pointing and pulling things out of my bag, hoping he'd get confused and leave me alone.

He called another cop over so in the meantime I put on my seatbelt and told the second cop that the first one must have bad eyes cause I was wearing my seatbelt the whole time as he could plainly see (all in English). He was smugly trying to tell me (in poor English) that was he was gonna write me a ticket for 1,000 baht ... or I could just pay him 400 baht. I told him I didn't have that much money so he started writing the ticket.

I finally gave in and started speaking Thai to him. That threw him off. He couldn't believe it. He thought it was even more unbelievable when I told him I came to be a Thai singer. So then I told him I'd sing him part of a Thai song as my "fine" if he'd just let me go. So he agreed! Haha, sucker. I can't believe how easy that was. That's why I love Thai people. I got what was coming to me though. Traffic on the way home was so bad and I got lost so many times that I was about to punch a hole through the windshield. I get irritated way too easily.

Today I went down near the ocean in Rayong to check out a school where there's gonna be an English camp next week that I'm helping out with. I rode down with some members. As we were leaving, our car hit a motorcycle ... pretty hard. It was quite a shock to the system considering I've never been in an accident before. It destroyed the front bumper and sent the motorcycle and the mom and preschool-age son on it flying through air.

I jumped out of the car and went to help them considering all the other Thai people around were just standing around staring like they saw it happen every day. The kid just had a cut on his head and some scrapes and was obviously scared, but the mom had a pretty deep gash on her forehead that was bleeding pretty bad. I got a shirt and tied it around her forehead and told her to put pressure on it. I sat there with her for a few minutes while people called the police and then when I could tell she was pretty alert, I picked her up and carried her out of the road.

I didn't mind that I got blood on me, but I also wanted to be careful because AIDS in Thailand is pretty scary. Anyway, we got them to the hospital and took care of everything else with the police and insurance, but it was still quite the experience. I was surprised that I didn't feel even a little panicked.

I met with a few of my former SYS music contacts. Still a long way to go though. I found a recording studio that I'll be able to use for free in a couple weeks once this member gets back from India, but I'm still looking for one in the meantime. And of course I have made time for dates with beautiful Thai girls. I shaved my beard to a handlebar mustache that connects to my sideburns and I look like even more of a hick than before ... but I love it.