Monday, February 28, 2011

Live From Taiwan: The OSCARS!

And coming to you live...9:00AM from my television - the Oscars. It's Monday and I'm seated comfortably in my second hand red chair, about to enjoy all the goodness that Hollywood has to offer.

No Blue Monday here! It's a public holiday in Taiwan (a very rare event - there are only about 5 in the whole year.) Today remembers 2.28, a day when Chiang Kai Shek's military government killed a massive number of Taiwanese in the south, an event started over a street cigarette vendor evading cigarette selling taxes. Not to be too callous, because those who know me know I love a good opportunity to delve into history, but I plan on using this day of remembrance to make some memories of my own, beginning with my television date.

As with you, I'm sure, many questions pop into my head when I watch this extravagant annual evening. Here are mine:

Why does Christian Bale sound like an Aussie and look like Wolverine?

Identity crisis. He really does think he's Batman.

Is James Franco high?


Were people in the USA allowed to hear Melissa Leo drop the F-bomb during her acceptance speech?

I doubt it, but I heard it loud and clear.

Why wasn't Kirk Douglas invited to host the entire awards ceremony?

No idea, but I wish he had.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

And....She's Back!

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope your eyes are ready for another six months of spontaneous posts from abroad. I have lined up my ducks, I have polished my shoes, I have braced myself and am now ready to return to work in the "new year" to finish what I started.

But first, my holiday:


James and I must have been undergoing some major trip planning stress when we decided to book our flights, somehow deciding to delight ourselves with a six hour layover (in the middle of the night) in Singapore. And I mean, this was a total gem of an idea, which we handled beautifully by sleeping on the cushions at McDonalds. (And James handled by eating no fewer than two meals, being as I don't generally thrill at the idea of fast food at home.)

But when we touched down in Phuket, it was immediately what we wanted: hot. It was hot and humid and didn't smell like petrol. We grabbed a taxi and were immediately introduced to freaking scary Thai cab driving. This was an experience we had no fewer than three times over 10 days. You know when you're playing a racing car game on the computer, or in a video game? And the car sometimes swerves violently in and out of traffic (because in a game, it isn't real cars) and you laugh because you're driving unreasonably fast and sometimes you have to stop completely abruptly and you might run into something?

Yes, it's a lot like that. (No bumps or bruises, only a bit of fear.)

Aside from being driven batty by drivers, what is Thailand like?
This will be illustrated using the five human senses:

What does Thailand look like?

It looks left alone. Like one day, the Thai people of Phuket area decided to build some lovely colonial houses, and some streets, and some pancake vendor carts, and then...leave it alone for a very long time. It's rustic. And it looks like lots of people are trying to sell you stuff, but the good news is, it's cool stuff, and it's cheap!
But the sunsets are also fabulous, especially because you can enjoy them while also looking at/drinking a  $3 mojito and possibly getting a holistic Thai beach massage by a woman who bends you and twists you and man almighty, is it awesome. It looks like that.

What does Thailand smell like? 

It smells like curry. OK, maybe not curry, but there is curry everywhere. Maybe it smells like the smell garbage/brush fires there are on the islands. Maybe it smells a little like coconuts. Either way, it smells delicious.

What does Thailand feel like?

Let's talk specifics. The air feels sticky. The rice also feels sticky. My new giant Thai pants feel soft and silky. The sand feels fine and warm, while the beer bottles feel cold. The red road dirt feels dirty, but not as dirty as brown dirt. The sheets smell lovely, and the water somehow isn't too salty.

What does Thailand sound like?

It sounds like Swedish and German families laughing while reggae music plays quietly in the background and ice is poured into cocktail glasses and the waves hit the rocky shores and cats meow as Australian male tourists rev their scooter engines and crab scramble away from beach comber feet. In the early morning, it sounds like you're in Iran, because Koh Lanta and Koh Jum are both Muslim islands and therefore enjoy a good Arabic chant over a loudspeaker about five times a day. (It's surprisingly easier to digest than the weird blasting horns the Buddhists drive around on trucks in TaoYuan at 7:00 on a Saturday morning.) At night, when it's time to sleep, it sounds like cicadas and grasshoppers (possibly also singing in Arabic) and it's delightful to sleep.

What does Thailand taste like?

Banana Pancake, of course.

I've got four words for you that I will combine into one long word of overwhelming deliciousness: if you go to Southern Thailand, you must eat bananapancakescoconutshakes. I bet you thought I was going to rave about the curry, didn't you? Well, let me then rave about the curry: it's amazing. There's nothing you can't cook with coconut, apparently, and make it taste amazing. You can have penang curry or yellow curry or green curry or red curry or King curry or monkey curry or...wait, monkey curry? Maybe not money curry. But we did see monkeys in the trees outside of our bungalow in Koh Jum that probably would have tasted delicious with a side of banana pancake and coconut shake. So yes, curry is fabulous.

But Caitlin, what else did you do besides eat banana pancakes?

The easiest explanation can be found in the following sample itinerary for our vacation:

8:00 - Be awoken to the sound of Muslim songs or jeeps revving
9:00 - Eat breakfast while looking at the ocean
10:00 - Look at the ocean and wonder, what will I do today?
In memory of the coconut shake.
10:15 - Go exploring, on foot or by scooter
1:00 - Eat something delicious
2:00 - Read a book
3:00 - Nap
4:00 - Read more or nap more
4:30 - Swim
5:30 - Happy hour
6:30 - Eat something delicious
9:00 - Walk on the beach
10:00 - Snuggle down
The napping bed.

And as bittersweet as it is to be starting work again tomorrow, I can't help but be shocked and grateful that the sun is shining for the first time in weeks in TaoYuan and that in six months, there will be yet another adventure. For now, it's back to the scooter traffic, language barriers, and something new, everyday.

Are you ready for a new year of blogs?