Sunday, October 2, 2011

Feels Like Home

I have been in Bangkok, Thailand for a grand total of forty-eight hours and it is already starting to feel like home. Thailand is not the unfamiliar home that Los Angeles, CA has become, but it’s more of a place that I remember existing in (the crazy thing is that I’ve never been to Thailand before). During ETA (English Teaching Assistant) Fulbright orientation, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok will serve as my home. The university’s dormitories will be housing all twenty Fulbright ETAs throughout the month of October.

Thailand reminds me of:
1. Hyderabad, India: auto rickshaws, street food vendors, humidity, aromas of stagnant water laced with deep-fried goodies, and the moldy look of some of the older buildings
2. Caracas, Venezuela: humidity, moldy architecture, and scattered artworks/sculptures
3. Baltimore, USA: humidity, streets lined with rows of abandoned buildings, and mucky bodies of water (areas of the Inner Harbor and Druid Hill Lake)

The flight to Bangkok was surreal. I left my home in Los Angeles at 8am and arrived at LAX at around 9am. At LAX, I crossed my fingers and toes that my bags would not weigh more than 50 lbs. My two large suitcases were both 50 lbs--thankfully none of my clothing, treasured mementos, or artworks had to stay behind in the U.S. After checking my bags at the American Airlines counter, I continued to my assigned gate where I met a fellow Fulbrighter, Paul Kim. Seeing Paul was reassuring and luckily he had a functioning cell phone (At&t had graciously disconnected my line) and I was able to say my last good-bye to my mom. After eleven hours of sitting and bearing through the screeching screams of the crying baby 4 rows in front of me, we (3 other Fulbrighters and myself) arrived in Tokyo.

The Tokyo-Narita Airport made me think of all my anime loving friends (i.e. Rick Highley & Ruliann Takanashi). After waiting in the airport for 3 hours, fourteen or so Fulbrighters boarded our 5 hour flight headed to our final destination--Bangkok, Thailand.

In the Bangkok airport, we were greeted by P’Kee (in Thai culture one addresses elders/authority figures with “Pee” in front of their name/nickname). P’kee and the travel agent directed us to our dormitories where I (re)met my lovely roommate Gracie (we had met already at the Washington, DC Fulbright orientation in July).

I happily slept through my first night in Bangkok (in LA my sleeping patterns were horrendous, I generally slept from 4am-10am). My first breakfast in Thailand was my usual Thai meal--pad thai and chicken fried rice. The duo was fairly similar to what I am accustomed to eating in Los I was happily satisfied!

After the delicious meal, a group of Fulbrighters and I explored the surrounding areas of the Chulalongkorn University. We walked to the Tesco Lotus shopping center, down Th Phayathai street, turned into the small street where Jim Thompson’s house is located, and then trekked back to the dorm to meet P’Kee to collect our stipend for the duration of our orientation.

With stipend in hand, a large group of Fulbrighters headed to MBK...ONE OF THE MOST MASSIVE MALLS I’VE EVER SEEN...At the mall, I bought my first cell phone abroad. Side note: I did not buy a cell phone in India because I wanted to try life disconnected. I wanted to experience life without the need to stay connected through technology (this is pre-my Facebook addiction). Soon after my exciting purchase, I preceded to stuff my face with Japanese noodles and buy the cutest Hello Kitty cell phone charm I could find (while being consumed by the endless stalls/booths at the mall)...after an exciting day in Bangkok...I passed out in my dorm at around 9pm!!!


  1. And so it begins, I'll live Thailand vicariously through your words and experiences. I feel I'll learn something new on every blog post, for example, I learned what a Fulbrighter is from this post. By the way, why are some Thai food places closed on Mondays? And what is Pad Thai?

  2. Do you really not know what Pad Thai is????? It is a delicious Thai noodle dish. It has peanuts, cilantro, lime, fish sauce (everything has fish sauce), and other goodies. I definitely suggest you try it out at your local Thai restaurant.

    Thai food places closed on Mondays? This is news to me!!

    1. YES! The Thai place both at home and at work, both places worlds apart from each other. I'll ask a friend of mine..... who happens to cut hair...... my hair...... to take me to his go-to Thai place. ^-^