Archive | September, 2018

FAQ’s

27 Sep

Most websites have a Frequently Asked Questions, (FAQs) not enough people talk to me to have a truly FAQ’s page so I am just going to answer questions I think people would ask If I ran into them.

Often the question I get asked by people I haven’t talked to in a while.  So after an extended boring period of 8 years where my answer was Fort Wayne, I am off on my newest adventure in the land of Muay Thai, Spicy food, massage parlors of every corner, brothels in the tourist areas,picture perfect beaches, ping pong shows and ladybois.  I’m living in Bangkok.  The last 8 years I did break up the plain-ness of living in Fort Wayne by living in El Salvador for 3 months and five months.

Why Thailand?  Well, I got contacted by a recruiter from Thailand when I put my resume on an English Teacher Board looking for a job in Japan.  The reason I went for it is: Thailand has great weather and nature, Muay Thai is the most practical striking martial art and my striking is in serious need of improvement, the food, learn massage-massage is super popular and cheap here, new culture language etc.

Wait is Melinda going with you?  No, she is married to someone else.  Broke up in January of 2017, and though it might seem like her getting married in late July and me leaving for Thailand in early August are related, it was not.

What has been the biggest shock so far?  I saw a python/boa on the street, not even a block from my apartment.  Bangkok is a gigantic modern city, so seeing a snake was disturbing.  It slid down into a sewer drain, I’ve got sketchy video of it, I’ll try to post it.

What about your hobbies?  Are you able to do them?  Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are on the back burner for now, as I go to Muay Thai (Thai Kickboxing that allows elbows, knees and grabbing of the opponent) 5 times a week.  I am not sparring currently just striking the bags and mitts.  Honestly there isn’t much difference in the Muay Thai drills and workout here than back home, except I am doing just Muay Thai not grappling at all.  Oh yeah, and the heat index is over 100 most days.  That wouldn’t be that big of a game changer except, the gym is an outdoor gym that is like a park pavillion, just a roof over top. I sweat like never before, between being fatter than usual and the weather being so humid here you can’t tell if you are sweating or if water from the atmosphere is clinging to you.

muaythai

Dance wise here in BKK the Latin dancing is off the charts, comparable to Miami.  If you Kizomba and Zouk, along with Salsa and Bachata you could dance 6 nights a week here.  I am taking a basic Zouk class, 2 hours a Saturday for four weeks.  I go every Monday to Bachata on Mondays, and the class is advanced enough that I struggle.  However they do a good job of keeping it short enough to be able to work the entire series.  There are quite a few dance snobs here, people who will only dance with other high level dancers.  The upside of this is the ladies I dance with who are newer to Salsa or Bachata really appreciate someone who is good with beginners.  The downside is I have had women stare away from me the entire dance, or turn me down to dance outright.

Clip of two couples dancing Zouk.

 

Clip of a typical Bachata lesson.

How much Thai do you speak?  Like usual when I move to a country exceedingly little.  When I arrived I could say thank you, no thank you, chicken, egg, and noodle.  Now I can add a very few other words: little, 1-99 if given enough time, right, no, pork, hello/goodbye…so i need to work on that.

How much English do Thai’s speak:  well if a native speaker country is a 100 (US, UK, South Africa) and 0 would be no one speaks any English i’d say it would go like this: European countries would be about a 85, this is mostly a guess I haven’t traveled much in Europe but for the most part you run into lots of very high level English speakers, Latin America would be a 60 so you are likely to run into someone with very high level English even if most people can’t speak fluently, South Korea 45- more high level speakers but fewer people willing to use what little English they know than in Thailand, and Thailand-35.  Almost everyone knows some basic English words like toilet, almost no one has fluent English.

How long do you plan on you staying?  The word plan in that sentence tells you the answer.  I am more akin to driftwood than a ship.  Probably in the one year range, although I might wind up drifting off to Vietnam or Malaysia or Japan.

What do you like so far?  Massage is super cheap, about $10-15 for an hour massage.  I have not found a way to learn massage yet, but I hope to learn massage while here.  Muay Thai-between my lack of flexibility and my preference for grappling my striking game is weak, I want to improve that.  The food- small portions, extremely cheap (about 1-2 dollars per meal from street vendors and 7-11 microwaveable.  Unlike developing Latin countries where electronics are twice as much due to import tax, when my smartphones I brought wouldn’t work with a local chip I bought a used Samsung that has been the best phone I ever had for about $130.  Also developing countries usually phone service and electricity is more expensive, here it is ridiculously cheap.  My couchsurfing friend got me a year’s worth of unlimited 3g internet on my phone for less than 50 bucks.  My electric bill for the month last month was 3 dollars.  The Thai teachers so far have let me do what I want in class, with no complaints.

How do you get around: BKK has a great subway system.  I avoid buses because it’s more complicated.  Taxis are cheap, moto-taxi’s are fast (go in between cars since traffic is jammed) but negotiating with Moto-Taxis can be problematic, Grab is an uber-like service here.   If I move to a rural area I will buy a motorbike or scoooter.  PS all you motorcycle riders, the average Thai rider will put you to shame.  Evil Knevel and his son would be average riders here.  I’m going to say I have seen nary a gym-shoe or motorcycle boot on any female driving a moto.  The majority of moto drivers are in some kind of flip flops, 2nd place would be sandals and 3rd would be dress shoes.   I have often seen 4 students on a motorscooter, and sometimes seen 4 adults.  I have seen a guy using his left hand to drag a furniture dolly while he drove the scooter with his right, I have seen people carrying dogs as they sit on the back of a moto taxi.  No one holds the waist of the moto taxi driver. Traffic here is more cooperative than in Latin countries: cars, bikes, motos, street carts, all share the road and weave around each other like in Latin countries but seems to be less about getting there first and more actual sharing.

motorscooterbkk

Are the massage parlors really brothels?  Mostly no, sometimes yes.  Most of the time you’ll be able to tell fairly early on, usually if there is a crowd of women out front they are a brothel.  Not a 100% rule, mistakes can be made.  However, if you go to a brothel thinking it’s legitimate massage place, you aren’t going to get extra unless you pay extra so you are still in the clear, and you might not even know after you left that the place offered both  The same was not true in Korea, while living in South Korea I vacationed in Thailand.  Massage was so cheap and it was my first massage experience I thought I would try it in Korea.  In Korea the massage was a lot more expensive, but i figured I would try it one time.  The lady started rubbing me during the massage, and when I told her no, she couldn’t believe it.  She looked at me like I had ordered an Ice Cream cone no Ice Cream.

How is it different from what you expected?  I expected more crime, here it seems crime is low.  Expected more beggars and addicts.  Prosperity is higher too, for a country where rent in the biggest city for me is only 200 a month and food costs 1-2 dollars, I would have expected more run down cars and cheapo motorbikes.  Most of the cars here in Bkk are newer, and almost all the motorscooters or motorcycles are Honda, or Yamaha.  I’m not losing weight as quickly as I thought, walking more less fast food and pop should be a recipe for weight loss; but turns out most Thai food is fried in some way, and with sweating as much as I do I have craved sweets.

How are your various digestive issues doing with Thai Food?  Surprisingly good.  I have about 8 food sensitivities, but they must not use a lot of the foods I am sensitive to.  Along with this I have acid reflux.  The small portion sizes here actually seem to help, because I wind up eating more regularly.  Since Thai’s are not addicted to cheese, it’s possible to stop in at a 7-11 and get something microwaved that doesn’t upset my stomach.