This is another semi-boring post about what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. I’ve still been very busy with mostly administrative things like getting health insurance, apartment hunting, etc., so I don’t have any fun and interesting travel stories or pictures. But there may be some fun or interesting nuggets of info in this post anyway.
I went to my first movie in Thailand. In all the times I’ve been here previous years, I don’t know why I haven’t ever been to one, but I just haven’t. Although as many of you know, I’m not much of a movie buff. I go to maybe 1 movie a year in Seattle (which also means, I don’t really date much in Seattle either…), and the majority of my movie watching happens on the flights from Seattle to Bangkok and back. But for whatever reason, I wanted to go see the new James Bond movie here, and oddly it opened here a couple weeks before it opened in the US.
So I’m in the movie theatre and like at home, they show all the trailers for upcoming movies and a few commercials. Then a message on the screen says “Please stand for the King’s anthem”. Everyone in the theatre stands, and they show a montage of photos and videos of the King from his childhood to present day, with his anthem playing in the background. It was a very different, but interesting experience.
The Thai people have enormous love and respect for the King and the royal family – in nearly every shop/bar/restaurant/house/hotel you go into, you will always see a picture of the King and Queen, usually with a small shrine or offering. It’s well-earned admiration, as the King has done a tremendous amount during his reign to help Thailand, particularly in agriculture and water/irrigation management.
As for the movie, it wasn’t my favorite James Bond movie, but it was still pretty good…
After a couple weeks of looking at many different apartments, I’ve finally found a great place and will be moving into my new permanent apartment on December 1st. Initially I didn’t think I had many strict requirements for the apartment, but after looking at a few apartments you start to add things to the “must have” list. And they might seem silly or petty, but it turns out they’re kind of important (to me, at least). Here are what turned out to be my must-haves (none of which were on my original list):
• A pool that’s not shaded in the afternoon. The Thai people generally do not like the sun or sunbathing like us westerners do, so they typically put the pools on the shady side of the buildings. I don’t plan on laying by the pool every day, but on the days that I do want to do that, I darn well want to be in the sun! I saw several great apartments, with amazingly beautiful pool areas, but completely shaded… Scratch those off the list.
• Balcony. I didn’t think I wanted or needed a balcony given how hot and humid it is – why would you want to stand out in that? Well, it turns out you start to feel a bit Closter phobic (or at least I do) when you’re in a small apartment with windows that don’t open. And the constant air conditioning gets to the point where you want to just get some natural moist air, even if it’s for just a few minutes.
• Walk-in shower. I’ve never liked bathtub/shower combinations, but nearly every apartment I looked at here has them. And more strange, they’re typically raised above the floor at least 6 to 8 inches, so you have to step up/down to get in and out of them. I’m not the world’s most graceful person – in fact, I’m pretty clumsy – so doing that every time I had to shower is just a broken leg or arm waiting to happen. And given that you shower at least twice a day here, sometimes 3 times, I quickly realized that a walk-in shower was a must-have.
You would be shocked to know how drastically those three criteria whittled down the list of available apartments for me here. But luck was on my side and I got what I wanted. 🙂
The Shower Hour
Speaking of showers, there’s a strange phenomenon here that I call the “shower hour”. It’s something that has plagued me for years that I’ve been coming here, but I always thought it was specific to me. As I’ve talked with other expats over here, I’ve learned that it’s thankfully a more widespread issue.
Here’s the issue: if you take a shower, and then go outside within about an hour, your body almost immediately begins sweating from every pore like Old Faithful. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cold shower, and you sit around for a half hour in a freezing cold air conditioned room first. If there’s less than 60 minutes elapsed between the time you step out of the shower and the time you step outside, you will be hit by this phenomenon. And it hits you within 5 minutes of being outside…you can try to talk yourself into thinking that you dried off really well, sat around in the cold air conditioned room and are ready to tackle the heat and humidity outside, but it’s of little use.
I didn’t take much biology in high school or college, so I don’t have a good scientific explanation for it. My hypothesis is that the shower fills your pores with water and if you go out in the heat/humidity your body tries to immediately expel that water to cool the body down. It’s just a theory but it’s the best I have.
It basically means that you have to plan ahead. If I’m going to meet people out for dinner at 8pm, I know I need to be out of the shower by 7pm at the very latest. Otherwise I’m going to be a sopping wet sweaty mess by the time the starter salad arrives.
Entrepreneurs & Stuff
I met a guy last weekend that has a business here that builds websites, among other things. I’d asked him for some info on networking events, and he pointed me to some info, including a conference happening in a couple days for Internet entrepreneurs. I quickly registered and attended the 2-day conference (which happened to be on the American Thanksgiving holiday, which they of course don’t celebrate here). While I’m not sure if I would want to start my own business here, or work for a small startup, those are certainly options I have and am considering. It turns out those 2 days were an incredibly great use of time.
It was 2 days packed with back-to-back talks given by local and regional small startups, venture capitalists, and panels of combinations of both. There was a ton of interesting info on the startup scene in Bangkok, as well as surrounding region including Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. Great discussions about what’s holding back the startup ecosystem here, what needs to happen to move it to the next level, who the key players are, networking opportunities, etc. It was probably the best use of 2 days since I’ve been here, and in those 2 days I got a crash-course in the startup scene here that would have taken me weeks or months to figure out on my own.
All in all, it’s been an incredible first three weeks here. I’ve accomplished a lot more than I expected I would have by now, and am even more excited about what’s to come next!