Thailand is full of coffee artists. Wherever you go for a cup of Joe, they try to outdo their coffee competitors with creative patterns and swirls of blended foam. I hate to even stir in a spoonful of sugar for fear of ruining the coffee canvas. But since it won’t stay hot forever, I choose to capture each creation digitally.
But my absolute favorite of all time is:
How on earth?
Recently seen in Chiang Mai. We’re not really sure what these are, but our family refers to them as “bowls for the giant.” We assume that the giant was out of bowls for his Frosted Flakes and needed to restock. This friendly person offered to take the bowls up the mountain to the place where the giant lives (no one other than this driver knows exactly where for sure.)
And while it looks like no one could see through the bowls to drive, it’s not quite as bad as it seems.
It wasn’t necessary for the driver to see out his back window, because no one is silly enough to follow a man making a delivery to the giant – much less at breakfast time when he hasn’t had his Frosted Flakes.
Part of the cultural experience of traveling through and living in Asia is learning to enjoy the local cuisines, but everywhere I go, The Donald is there (as in Ronald McDonald).
I don’t really like McDonald’s, but I do like western food, and it’s EVERYWHERE! Globalization is alive and well in Asia. No matter what country I visit, I can find at least half of the following: The Sizzler, Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King, Auntie Anne’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Baskin Robbins, TGI Fridays, KFC, Wendy’s…. and a host of other American food chains. (There are plenty of British chains, too, but I don’t recognize them as quickly.) With all these choices from home, I struggle to force myself out of my comfort zone, and I’m an easy mark for whiny kids who don’t want Thai food for dinner.
Sadly, scarily, all these fast-food and popular restaurants are the most successful “development” of third-world nations that the western nations have been able to accomplish. Asians seem to love them, despite their high prices, but the only real development they bring is bigger bellies and smaller wallets (which both make me feel a little more at home).
Is this some subconscious “misery loves company” strategy on the part of western nations? Are we jealous of emerging Asian economies and trying to sabotage their populations with high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol? It’s working. Some of these countries have already graduated to the next stage in “development” – late-night infomericals for over-priced, under-used exercise equipment and weight-loss scams.
Now that’s progress!
Traveled to the U.S. this week, and when I went through customs in Los Angeles, the officer told me, “Welcome home.” As soon as he said it, my spirit exhaled. It was a peculiar feeling – the feeling of release, the feeling of putting down something heavy. It made me feel light and optimistic and….comfortable.
We’ve been in Thailand for eight months, and the best way I can describe it is that it’s like living outside your comfort zone 24/7. The people are wonderful and Chiang Mai is probably one of the best and easiest places we could have picked to live, but it’s not home (yet).
Home is the U.S. – Colorado Springs, in particular. Since I arrived, my friend’s daughter has been singing the song from Sound of Music that extols “a few of (her) favorite things!” I’ve got lots of those here. Not raindrops on roses or warm woolen mittens, but cool weather, mountains, friends, my home church, predictable driving patterns. It’s a neat place.
It’s hard living “in a country not their own.” My family is terribly jealous that I’m here while they are not. I think they would even sit through my ten days of boring meetings in my place just to have a few weeks in Colorado. So, I feel very thankful (and more than a little guilty) for this opportunity to unshoulder the burden of learning to adapt to a new culture. But maybe a year from now, when we are all returning to Chiang Mai from our furlough in the U.S., we will all think of Thailand as “home,” and we won’t be so eager to leave it the next time.