Tag Archive: foreigners


ไทยแลนด์ (Thailand)

I’ve written about my experiences in Egypt, now, on to Thailand, the Land of Smiles! While we were still in Egypt, my parents went over on a look-see to find out where we’d be living and even if we really wanted to move there. My mom brought me back Bubble Yum bubble gum, and that was all I needed to know I’d love it over there! My dad’s company also sent them to Sao Paulo, Brazil, after this trip, and after being told of the crimes (usually aimed at ex-pats) and living behind bars on windows and doors, my parents quickly made up their minds!

In August of 1997, we arrived at the Bangkok International Airport, it was around midnight, and we were exhausted after 20 hours of travel! When you get off the plane, one of the first things you see is a banner that displays “Welcome to the Land of Smiles” and you see all the cute little Thais. We still had a two hour drive still ahead of us, just to get to the hotel where we’d be staying, what a LONG day that was!

We drove to Pattaya, which is south of Bangkok, the nearest city to where we’d be living. The hotel we stayed at was called the Royal Garden, and it had a MALL attached to it! I had never seen such a thing, and thought it was SO cool! As a 14 year-old girl, I was in heaven! The hotel was GORGEOUS, and the next day, I went to check out the mall, with no money of course, I forgot to ask for some Baht (Thai currency). I found this one store that, apparently, is big over in the UK, Boots, an odd name for a drugstore type of store, but they had a lot of American and British beauty products (although you’d pay the price for ’em), which was great! The mall also had a Benihana’s, so it was a MAJOR improvement from Cairo.

When we went to see our new home, we were in disbelief that it was as beautiful as it was. We lived ON a golf course, so my parents and brother were ecstatic, HOWEVER, I tried taking golf lessons in Egypt, and decided I could care less. The 2nd mode of transportation was a golf cart, everyone had at least one.

I can’t tell you how SPOILED ROTTEN we were over there, it’s so cheap to live there, we are fortunate enough to afford a maid and a driver!!! Our maid and driver were married, and the lived with us, in the outside quarters. They really became part of our family, they had a beautiful little girl whose nickname was Ploy, which means pearl in Thai, isn’t that sweet? To give you an idea of how cheap it is, we paid the maid the equivalent to $200, and she was one of the highest paid maids in the area! She felt so blessed we were able to give her a job, she gave up beef in return, completely on her own, and stuck to it!!! The Thais are willing to bend over backwards to please, and they really LOVE to smile, which makes me miss Thailand.

Because the primary religion is Buddhism, they have a different new year, their version is known as Songkran, which is celebrated April 13th – 15th, and it’s just a big HUMONGOUS water fight! They do have a white powder they mix with water, and that is supposed to ward off evil, and they will nail you with that, as well, and can sting your eyes. If you think you can go out, and still stay dry, FORGET IT!!!!! Watch the clip below and see it’s all in good fun:

School was different, we had uniforms, and I was not happy with that in the beginning. I’d never been to a school with uniforms, and the thought of wearing the same thing day in and day out was appalling! The school, the International School of the Eastern Seaboard (ISE) was SO small, even compared to my old school, CAC, there were less than 20 kids in the WHOLE 9th grade! We all had the same classes together, and there weren’t choices in what you could take, except you had the option of learning French of Spanish. I couldn’t even learn Thai in school, because there supposedly wasn’t enough interest to have a class, the majority of the students were Thai. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to learn it, besides the basic 1-10 and hello, good-bye, thank you, etc… In the 10th grade, we went on a Biology trip, we called the “Barge Trip” where we were on a boat, and went around to different sights, and had a good time. I remember feeling tired throughout that trip, just the fresh air and the heat got to me, and maybe just gross from the fact we literally had timed showers, you had 3 minutes once you got in the bathroom area, to jump in and out, and get dressed again…that was rough! I do remember everyone taking turns in groups cooking, and that was fun! That was my first experience with okra, turned out I kinda liked it.

Here’s a picture of the high school, that was newly built when I was there. If you can see the stairs have a covering, it’s because there’s no roof over the center of the building. One teeny tiny tidbit they may have overlooked, during the design process, was that there’s monsoon season!

This is the high school, and there were coverings over the stairwells because there was no roof over the center of the buiding, of which I don't think they took monsoon season into account during the design process

the inside of the high school

The good thing I learned is, when it’s a small school, you get a chance to get to know everyone there, and I appreciated that, we had people from all corners of the world, and I can’t tell you how NEAT it is to interact with people from such different backgrounds! I feel so blessed to have met EVERYONE there, the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s interesting how you look back, and you realize the ways people shaped your life.

This is my good friends, Guillermo.  Isn't he GORGEOUS???

My good friend, Guillermo & I

In Thailand, drinking was legal, so long as you paid, and the same went with prostitution. The typical stereotype if you saw a foreigner with a Thai girl, usually much younger, is she was getting paid for her company, and that was something you saw EVERYDAY! Even the next door neighbor would have parties with a few Thai women when his wife left. Everyone knew everyone else’s business, MUCH more so than should’ve. I guess that’s what happens when wives (of ex-pats) can’t work (weren’t allowed work permits), and have nothing better to do.  Anytime one of the their kids screwed up, and we ALL did, EVERYONE knew about it, and that was really annoying. My bad experience was with our golf cart. One day, I was screwing around on the golf cart paths, going up and down the hills for cheap thrills, and missed a turn,  I tried to compensate by turning sharply, which resulted in me falling out, and the cart kept going…right into the pond!!!!!! I was so upset, one of the neighbors happened to be driving by, and they gave me a lift back home. All I remember was I was grounded after that, and told I could NEVER drive it again! I was able to drive it again, they trusted me, and that was the last time I went up and down hills for excitement! I think it was about $100 or so just to dry it out. My mom jokingly told me to tell people I went looking for my dad’s old golf balls, sadly, that excuse didn’t fly!

WHOOPS!!!

My golf cart fared a little better than this one, but not by much

Thailand has some Amazing beaches, in Pattaya, Phuket, and the small islands. Our family traveled to Phuket a few times, and stayed at Le Meridian Resort, which was recked in the tsunami, but has since been restored. We LOVED that place, there was always something to do, and everyday, they had this fantastic mongolian barbecue (I’m such a foodie), definitely one of the things I looked forward to. The only thing i hated was the pain from my “pasty-white-girl-tan”, otherwise known as a sunburn, from being in the sun all day. Another place we visited was Chiang Mai, and on that trip, this Aussie boyband, Human Nature, performed in the lobby lounge of the hotel, and I remember thinking they were some FINE lookin’ men LOL, but my tastes have changed since then, but a couple of them are still cute LOL. They ended up having some songs on the Asian and Aussie music charts, but nothing too big. What can I say, I was a sucker for any cute boy!!!!

Earlier, I mentioned how I’m kind of a foodie, and I love Thai food. I’m not one for a lot of spice, like most of their dishes, but it’s worth the sacrifice, and if you think you’re eating Thai food, but your nose isn’t running, and eyes aren’t watering, then it may not be authentic. I did learn how to make Thai fried rice, from our maid, sesame beef. I do have a recipe for chicken cashew, just have never made it myself, but it’s awesome! Chicken satay and pad thai are my favorites!

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Durians are a fruit that is native to southeast Asia, and you would KNOW if you were ever within a half a mile of one, the smell is unforgettable, to say the least! Remember how I said the high school was all open-aired??? Well, one day, someone brought 2 durians to school, and left them at the bottom of the stairs, and the smell was just AWFUL!!! One writer describes it as “overripe cheese. Rotting fish. Unwashed socks. A city dump on a hot summer’s day”, and I couldn’t agree more!! Apparently, the public buses, which are all open-aired as well, wouldn’t allow anyone with one of these supposedly tasty fruits on board due to the pungent odor. I never tried it, the smell was enough to turn me off. Pomelo was another fruit that is native to SE Asia, and it is SO good! It tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit.

Pomelo

DurianDurian

See this picture…

Gorgeous, huh??? Well, these are what the Thais refer to as Katoys, which means “ladyboys”, and they have Mr. Miss beauty pageants!! So, if you go there, you may not always get what you see, As you can see, many of them are more beautiful than real women! My parents took us to a cabaret show when we were on vacation, and later, we met some of the stars of the show, and my mother broke it to us that they were men, I just couldn’t believe it, they were SO beautiful, but then I noticed the adam’s apple!

While I was in Thailand, I had the opportunity to travel Vietnam, Bali and Australia. I think we loved Phuket so much, we didn’t do as much traveling to other places, but I really don’t have any places on my must see list, that I haven’t already seen. I really loved the people, the culture, and the land, I would move back there in a heartbeat, if given the opportunity! There is a woman’s blog I’ve been reading, who just moved there, and it brings back memories to read about her daily life, although, she lives in a different part of the country. I’m sure I missed things, but this gives you an insight into my life, as well as the things the average tourist might not experience.

Ignorance???

Is it ignorant o think that English should be the only language spoken when it comes to dealing with the government???? I have lived in other countries, and although English is the universal language, we had to learn their language, or find someone to translate for us, and that’s because we were on THEIR TURF! I understand the country is a melting pot, the land of opportunity and freedom, but I really don’t feel asking people to learn English is too much to ask for! They might as well, EVERYTHING is in English, from our street signs to the groceries we buy. I just saw on the news, that when they received some of the mailings back petitioning for it to be on the ballod, people had scribbled such hateful messages, one showed “Ignorant Racist” and they had to blur out some of it. I just feel if you’re coming to my country, you should speak my language, they would expect the same from a foreigner in their country!

I was talking to my friend, Victor, who doesn’t agree with the idea, here’s some of our conversation on Instant Messanger:
(it got a little heated, more so than I would’ve thought, but he is of Mexican descent, and is in law school, so I’m sure he’s argued with fence posts just for the heck of it!;) )

hey, random topic, would you be opposed to making your city english-only??? where they don’t offer spanish speaking people for assistance in gov’t offices???
“Victor”: yes.
christinaeba1983: really, why?
“Victor”: there are a lot of mexicans in holland
“Victor”: and english isnt the national language
“Victor”: and i think its ignorant to assume it is
christinaeba1983: so???? they are on our turf, and yes english is our official language of the USA
“Victor”: or to assume that everyone should speak it
“Victor”: who is they?
christinaeba1983: they’re in our country!
“Victor”: and no its not
christinaeba1983: foreigners
“Victor”: the us doesnt have an official language
christinaeba1983: When I went to Egypt and Thailand, do you think they offered english assistance? no, we needed to learn their language
“Victor”: and they? this land is suppose to be the land of the masses. it is built on the back of immigrants and foreigners. to betray that history seems ridiculous
christinaeba1983: it’s not, but to become a US citizen, you have to know english, and if you don’t, then you most likely don’t belong there
“Victor”: says who?
christinaeba1983: common sense!
“Victor”: thats ridiculous christina
christinaeba1983: Well, I posted a blog about it, go over and comment! lol
“Victor”: i dont need to…i can tell you here that what you said/say is very ignorant of a history of people.
christinaeba1983: I don’t think so at all
christinaeba1983: English is the universal language, people leaving their homelands should learn it
“Victor”: lol you sound so republican and stupid
christinaeba1983: no, but if you’re driving, the street signs are in english, groceries and everything are in english, I shouldn’t have to select whether i want to hear things in english or spanish, should be english automatically
christinaeba1983: if i go to YOUR homeland, then I need to speak YOUR language, and same goes for coming to my homeland
“Victor”: but those are practically the same thing
“Victor”: why?
“Victor”: you ar ridiculous. there is no language of america.
“Victor”: just bc its the primary here in MI doesnt mean thats everywhere
“Victor”: what bothers you about spanish so much
“Victor”: its a beautiful language.
“Victor”: and driving signs are specifically made in shapes to deal with that kind of thing. and spanish speaking people arent ignorant of english completely. to think they couldnt comprehend stop speaks a lot about your ignorance as well.
christinaeba1983: I just think if you’re living here, you should communicate in the common language, and make an effort to learn it
“Victor”: and i think if more americans had a better grasp of the english language then i might care if “foreigners” as you called them, spoke english
christinaeba1983: well if they’re not from here, they are a foreigner…DUH!
christinaeba1983: they’re from a foreign place, meaning not familiar to the US!
“Victor”: and to call them foreigners implies that they dont belong here…my grandma has been an american for over 50 years and doesnt speak english…for you to imply you are any more american than her is ridiculous
“Victor”: not all americans speak english
christinaeba1983: well, they should!
christinaeba1983: all public schools teach in english, am i wrong?
“Victor”: yes
“Victor”: you are
“Victor”: go down to the southwest
christinaeba1983: find me one, you won’t
“Victor”: i think if a group of people wants to preserve their culture by using their language and not being assimilated into america.

What do you think? Would you vote for it? Do you feel it would hurt the city to go English-Only??

Blank Stares

So, the olympics are about to kick off here in a few weeks, in Beijing, and the country’s thrilled, HOWEVER, the Chinese have been instructed on how to interact with foreigners, which I find a little crazy! Now, I used to live over in Southeast Asia, and they were strict in Thailand, about not saying anything negative toward the king, but listen to this list of things that can’t be asked:

  1. income/expenses
  2. age
  3. love life/marriage
  4. health
  5. home/address
  6. personal experiences
  7. religious beliefs/political views
  8. what they do for a living

They even have restrictions for dealing with handicapped athletes:

  1. Use polite and standard forms of address for handicapped athletes.
  2. Try to keep as light as you can with handicapped overtones.
  3. Pay attention to how you congratulate handicapped athletes. (this one I don’t get, how can you overcongratulate anyone?)

They have advised the natives to greet foreigners with a smile, saying it’s the best business card, which is good, but with these restrictions, I’d be afraid to talk to anyone, and that could come off as arrogance, which isn’t good either. All foreigners will get from the Chinese are blank stares or a lot of questions about the weather!

You may remember a post where I had said I’d live in Australia, if I could live anywhere, well I came across a website that compiled all the idiotic things foreigners have asked about Australia, they’re quite amusing!

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I’ve never seen it rain on TV. How do your plants grow? (UK)
A: We import all of our plants fully grown and then sit around watching them die.

Q: My wife and I enjoy walking tours. How long will it take us to get from Perth to Sydney on foot? (Canada)
A: How long did it take you to do your last 4,000 kilometre walk? Bring a bottle of water.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? If so, can you send me a list of all of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: What is the weather like in Vienna in May? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney, and is milk available year-round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful nation of vegan hunters and gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Are the rattlesnakes in Melbourne deadly? Do you sell anti-venom at the grocery store? (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-mer-i-ca, which is where you come from. Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make great pets.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? If so, when? (France)
A: Occasionally, and if so than during our Christmas annual leave.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go in Australia? (USA)

A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

Some guy then added what he’d been asked about Canada:

I live in Canada and I’ve been asked questions like:
Q: “Do you live in an igloo?”
A: Only in winter. In summer we build houses from the trees.

Q: “Are there any cars where you come from?”
A: Cars were sooooo 1989. We have gliders. You know… like The Jetsons did.

Q: “Does maple syrup really come from trees?”
A: “Yes. Once a year, every Candian picks one maple tree and squeeze it very hard while talking nicely to it. We do this for about an hour until you have convinced the tree to give up it’s bodily fluids.”

Q: “Does the sun ever shine over there?”
A: “Only if we dance around naked circling a pack of beavers singing: eh? eh? eh? eh?, over and over again. We don’t get much sun.

And many more… I don’t think the Americans know that southern Canda is just a little to the north of New York and Washington. Oh well…

Now, I remember when I moved to Egypt for the first time (at age 11, mind you) , thinking we would be living in pyramids and riding camels everywhere, however, I then realized my dad worked for a car company, I guess it’s a little more evolved than people walking like Egyptians!!!!