Monday, October 16, 2006

So the past couple of days I have had a major case of homesickness. If I could have I would have been on the first plane back to Los Angeles. But seeing as I have a deathly fear of flying and I'm too cheap to buy the ticket, I ended up just dreaming of being back in the "Land of the Free." Funny how I would never use that term in the States...but being out of your home country makes you so much more patriotic than you ever would be if you just stayed at home.

I think my homesickness was brought on partially because the longest I've ever been away from home was 3 months and its almost been 3 months since I left for Thailand. But mostly I think it was brought on by the fact that I got a cold and I am a HUGE baby when I'm sick. I hate it. Not that everyone doesn't hate being sick but I don't seem to be able to handle it. Plus the electricity went out in my room (but the lights and A/C miraculously worked) so all the food in my refrigerator went bad, I couldn't use my computer, blow dryer, hot water heater (so no water for cooking), or toaster. Essentially, I was S.O.L. because I was too tired to walk anywhere in the heat and I had no way of cooking any of the food that didn't spoil in my refrigerator. Yeah, it was not a good weekend.

Today was supposed to be a work day for the foreign teachers (the Thai teachers and foreign teachers have different vacations for some reason) but when we got there everything was locked up so there was no way for us to do any work. I was hoping that the lady that manages the apartment would be there today so she could help me with my electricity but I found out she was on vacation with the Thai teachers. BOOO. So I had to bust out some crazy Thai language skills to talk to some of the people that work maintenance at the school. Basically, I was saying "Light no have room" "Room light no have" or any combination of those words to try and convey my meaning. Its so frustrating because yeah, o.k. sorry I don't speak your language but can you not look at me like I'm a frickin idiot?? I'M TRYING PEOPLE! Generally, Thai people are very nice but sometimes you just can't ignore the feelings of disdain and hatred you know that they feel for you. Whatever.

After getting my electricity back I felt almost human again. I decided to go to the mall to do some grocery shopping. While I was there I saw a dental clinic and decided to get a check up because its been too long since my last one. I also ended up going to the laser skin clinic to get some crazy lazer light treatment to lighten the appearance of my freckles. Thats the great thing about Thailand. Medical services are so cheap and available here. Everywhere you go you see dentists and dermatologists and you don't even need insurance because its so inexpensive. I'm fully going to take advantage of this while I'm here.

Let me just say that Thai women are generally obsessed with two things when it comes to their appearance: their skin and their weight. Thai people (and Asians in general) or obsessed with white skin. They love it. So opposite of Westerners who are always trying to get the perfect tan. I guess you always want what you can't have, right? Every skin product has whitening agent in it. Facial wash with whitening. Body lotion with whitening. Whitening cream. Facial moisturizer with whitening. Body wash with whitening. Its good for me because I've always been whiter than white. Here I don't have to worry about being self conscious about it.

But while I'm not really self conscious about my weight in the States I feel like a giant here. These women look anorexic, like they haven't eaten since 1985. I'm only 5'3" and about 115 pounds (o.k. I'm baring my soul to you all) and when I go shopping here I can't even get the biggest pair of jeans to go past my thighs. And forget shopping for a bra. I tried asking the sales clerk for help with my size and she looked around and said that they didn't have any bras that would fit me. Keep in mind, I wasn't shopping in a small boutique, I was in a frickin department store with hundreds of bras around. Surely, one of them has to fit me??? The problem is that the circumference (I dunno, waist band...chest band??) of the bra is so tiny that it looked like it wouldn't fit a 10 year old girl.

As if that weren't enough to give me a complex, the people here are so blunt about talking about weight. One day two of the Thai teachers working in the library were talking in Thai and I could tell that they were talking about me and all of a sudden one of them so graciously translated for me. "She said you fat" as she made bulging cheeks and a gesture to her belly. I could barely eat for two days after that.

Sigh. This is why I long for the United States. At least people will generally act like you expect them to and you know how to act with people. Here its always this fine line of worrying whether what you say or do is offending someone and then trying not to get offended at the things they say and do to you. There aren't these mysterious rules of conduct to follow and no mind trips of whether you should take something personally or not. But then again, its so fascinating to realize what our unconscious expectations are and thats really why we travel, right?

9 comments:

Messy Christian said...

Haha, I totally understand. Down south in Malaysia things are about the same, though we do have stores such as Ms Read, Dorothy Perkins and Marks & Spencer for the bigger size. I have difficulties shopping for bras as well. It's infuriating that they make the circumferance so short and the cup sizes don't go beyond B a lot of times.

Dave said...

I am an Asian American. I can tell you that they don't mean to offend you. Telling you that you are fat is actually a compliment in Asian cultures. For thousands of years (up until very recently), everyone was skinny, only the wealthy are "fat".

As for the white skin thing: In Asia, traditionally, the poor dark-skinned farmer has to work the field. So, having light-skin is a sign of wealth. In Europe and the United States, going to the beach and get a tan is a sign of wealth.

Peter Lauri said...

We are all in a different reference frame correct? So you don't need to get complex because of your weight.

Where in Bkk do you live? I live outside in Rangsit.

Take care...

nyc_lwd_nl said...

You're not fat.

LeighAnn said...

Sheesh! I can't believe you have been there three months now.

I hope you feel better soon.

And be careful about the dentist....look at the last few posts on my blog about the dentist.

Brandi said...

I just found your blog through Leighann and I think it's great!
I just returned to the United States after living in Germany for three years. I totally understand how much you appreciate America when you live outside the US. It may not be perfect, but it's home.
And about the weight thing I had to laugh alittle. (not cause I think it's funny to laugh at people's flaws) I laughed because German people have no qualms asking you if you've gained weight. They are a very blunt people. In a way it's refreshing, because sometimes I think we are too PC in America.
I look forward to hearing more of your journeys.

Bailey said...

Sorry to hear about your homesickness.

I totally understand about being a bit of a baby when you are sick. I am TOTALLY the same way. I couldn't imagine being sick and out of the country. I would totally fall apart.

You also have much more courage than I. I would NEVER go to the dentist overseas! I am scared to go to my dentist here, and it really isn't that bad. I just HATE the dentist. And I couldn't imagine going to a cheap dentist in another country!

NewsGirly said...

Hi,
I lived in South Korea for a few years and the white/weight/clothing situation was similar. People would blatantly talk about me, my clothes, my hair - on the bus, in stores, on the street. They assumed I couldn't understand. I finally got too self-conscious, homesick and stagnant and decided to come home. But I find Korean people to be the kindest, they are very curious and funny, and I really miss my life there. Go figure. Enjoy! And try not to let all that stuff get to you. In the end, you can and will leave it behind. They cannot.

Rakesh said...

really nice and best blog. Thanks for sharing.

Flights to Mumbai

Flights to Singapore

Flights to Delhi