Sex in Thailand

Greetings from Bangkok.  I thought the blog title would be a good way to draw in all three of my three readers who would have read it anyway, since they are close friends or family.

In any case, I arrived in Thailand, exhausted after a long flight from Europe.  I was happy I splurged on a hotel in Bangkok since I was so tired and needed good rest.  A friend’s husband who grew up in Thailand recommended that I stay in the Sukhumvit neighborhood.  After checking in and resting, I had to make a pit stop at a beauty salon to get my waxing and threading done.  Apparently the Thai are not big into threading, so I had to get my eyebrows waxed. It was on okay experience, but what I learned is that Indians are expert at hair removal because our hair is much coarser than Thai hair. It took two ladies to wax my legs in the same amount of time it normally takes one Indian lady.

I decided to try food cart food since it’s supposed to be amazing in Thailand. I have always been weary of food carts, having grown up visiting India, chowing down on street food, and then becoming deathly ill.  But I survived the last few times I went to India, after being wiser and more selective about which street food I try (in other words, hardly any) and after surviving street cart food in Mexico.  So I had pad thai my first night, which was delish and only 30 baht ($1)!!!  I was still hungry so i stopped at another stall and got some kind of noodle soup.  I was happy until I started walking home and noticed several rats hanging out by the restaurant on the corner by my hotel.  I was so disgusted, but have tried (unsuccessfully) to put it out of my mind.  My new fave street food is mango sticky rice. It’s some kind of dessert food that comes with coconut milk.  Sooo good.

So you may be wondering about the blog title.  Well, my first night in Bangkok, I decided to stroll around the Sukhumvit neighborhood. I had heard a little about it from reading John Burdett’s mystery novels, all set in Bangkok.  I should have put two and two together when I remembered that in the books the cops mostly visit Sukhumvit to interview the “whores” (his words, not mine) who work the bars and the tourist scene.  Wow, I was so disturbed to see old white dudes hand in hand with young, 20-something Thai girls. And there were soooo many of them.  From what I understand, they are mostly very poor women from the Isaan region who don’t have many other options and often send money home from their earnings in Bangkok.

There is also a street market on Sukhumvit, which mostly sells junk, trinkets, counterfeit clothes, bags. etc. But I also noticed several tables selling Viagra or Cialis. I have no idea if these are fake or if they are illegally smuggled into the country. But it was really disturbing. I saw some guys go up and inquire about them, too!  For some reason I thought the whole transaction would be a lot more discreet.

Anyway, aside from that whole scene, Sukhumvit was relatively nice. I am now in another neighborhood, which is backpacker/tourist hell.  I think there are more white people here than Thais.

All in all, I find Bangkok to be cleaner, less air and street pollution, more orderly traffic, less frenzied than Delhi or Bombay.  But I will be leaving Bangkok tomorrow to do some sightseeing.  Excited to be outta here. This is what people must feel like when they visit Delhi or Bombay. Thankfully I have family in both places that take care of me and plus I know the language to be able to get around.

See pics from Bangkok below.

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I think Sevilla might be my favorite city in Spain so far

I inadvertently booked a hotel in the cool, artsy, bohemian neighborhood and I really like it. I guess that’s what happens when you book cheap hotels. Turns out the Marriott is never in the cool, artsy neighborhood.

Plus people are so chilled out here and they are so into their dogs – they bring them everywhere. Though I already know Lola would cause too much drama to be let off her leash like most dogs here.

Anyway, my main question is..how do these people pay the rent?? It’s a thursday afternoon and all kinds of people are just hanging out in the park drinking, smoking, etc. I am so curious. Plus I need ideas for my post-accenture life 🙂

Finally…pictures!

I finally found an internet cafe in Seville, so I could upload pics. Enjoy.

FUERA! FUERA!

I learned a new word today: “fuera”, which apparently when shouted by the audience to performers, is not a good thing. It means, “get out” or something like that.

I had gone to see a flamenco show at a local peña (social club) in El Puerto de la Santa Maria that my AirBNB host took me to along with two other AirBNB guests. Anyway, it started off slow, as they usually do. But after only 2 songs, the singers and dancer went backstage for a break. I thought it was really early for a break but figured maybe this was a Spanish thing. Next thing we knew, they were packing up their things and were leaving. The audience started yelling, “FUERA FUERA!!” The only thing we were able to learn is that the band leaving was the result of something that happened at one of the tables. I’m not sure if an insult was yelled or something.

In any case, Chris, the AirBNB host, told us that this is a good example of all the politics wrapped up in flamenco. The band and dancer were likely gipsies and there is definitely a divide between the spaniards and gipsies. Some of it probably discrimination and some based on truth. Anyway, we noticed the band was standing outside the club when we left. I was surprised that they didn’t go home. Our other host, Nestor, explained that it was likely because they hadn’t been paid yet and were waiting to be paid. And it was even possible that the peña manager might come out and try to convince the band to come back in and finish the show.

We did not get to see that happen, but Chris and Nestor will no doubt find out the gossip soon enough. Nestor was like, “you should have called me when this happened! I love this drama!” A man after my own heart 🙂

The drama capped off an awesome day where we all crammed into Nestor and chris’s car for a road trip to Bolonia. Apparently on a clear day you can see morocco across the water, as it’s only 16 miles. But we were unable go see morocco. Instead, we had incredibly strong winds, which initially seemed worrisome. But ended up working out. Not ideal beach weather, but with a few beers, a swim in the water, a walk up this huge UNESCO protected sand dune, and getting to know my fellow AirBNB guests, it turned into an awesome day. Nestor and Chris are awesome hosts and I could not have asked for a better AirBNB experience. They are fun, generous, excited to show us around, excited to share home cooked food with us (I had Nestor’s awesome homemade, Andalusian gazpacho! And even got a mini cooking lesson out of it!) All in all, a fabulous pair of guys.

I was wrong…

So in an earlier post I had felt that it was amazing the extent to which Spain had colonized Mexico. But after being in Spain for two weeks, I feel like the two countries are so different, that it’s difficult to find any similarity apart from the language and religion. Those are admittedly two huge things that make up a large part of any culture. But in Mexico there are plenty of indigenous languages still in use today. And the religion is more of an amalgamation of roman Catholicism with the indigenous beliefs rather than pure Catholicism.

After being in Spain, I actually realize how much I liked Mexico and Oaxaca in particular. Though it is nice to feel safe here, everything works, tap water is safe!! But I don’t love the food here. I enjoyed it much more in mexico. I loved the beauty of Mexico and the people were really warm.

Also, I found a lot more parallels between mexican and Indian culture, whereas I don’t see many between Spain and India. Being in Spain makes me think back to high school when all we learned was European history and of course American history, but no Asian history or anything I could really relate to. As a result, I got bored and largely don’t remember anything from history class.

One of the guys I am staying with in this B&B is sooo into European and Spanish history and the architecture. And this is super crass, but I keep thinking to myself that all this stuff gives him a hard on whereas I couldn’t care less….

I suppose the other thing is, I spent a lot more time in one place in Mexico (Oaxaca) getting to know locals, but I haven’t really done the same here. Maybe that would change my point of view, but I am doubtful. I have stayed in a lot of B&Bs, which helps me to know some locals, but still haven’t fallen in love with the place.

Last note, I had my iPod on shuffle the other day and came across my SpanishPod lessons at the “Newbie” level. I realized how far I have come with my Spanish!! I feel so far past the Newbie level. Through in reality, I am probably still a beginner. But it’s amazing how being in a Spanish speaking environment will help your Spanish skills improve really fast. I’m no longer afraid to go to new places in Spain alone because my Spanish skills are adequate to get me what I need. My grammar is all off and I do not know all the tenses, but it’s ok 🙂

Cordoba

I made my way to Cordoba, following a suggested itinerary from the Lonely Planet. But soon after I got here, I realized I was tired or churches and mosques in Andalusia. So I have decided to skip Seville for now. Maybe I will do a day trip later, but that is tbd.

In Cordoba, the main thing to see here is the Mezquita, which is now a cathedral. The Mezquita was a mosque that was originally the most important site of the Moors’ territory. Interestingly, I found it far more impressive than the Alhambra in Granada. I suppose I have seen much more impressive Islamic architecture in India. But the Mezquita was quite unique in the architecture and the weird mixture of Renaissance and Islamic architecture.

In any case, Cordoba also has the winding, unplanned streets that were originally laid down by the Arabs. Both Malaga and Granada were similar in that sense.

For Cordoba I decided to try another AirBNB place. This time I am staying with an artist and her son. In typical artist style, their place is a bit cluttered. This annoyed me at first, but I have gotten over is because they are very kind and it feels like a home, which is nice. My first day here, she took me to a bar right below her apartment, which was totally laid back. They were having some kind of afternoon party there and made arroz con pollo. It was honestly sort of bland, but nice of them to share it, since they are friends with my host.

Today she took me to some kind of free African dance and drums thing. It was totally fun in a Hindu Heritage Summer Camp kind of way, which is to say, awesome. Everyone learned a bit of percussion and then we played together with a band leader/conductor dude leading. Kind of like the camp counselors and the campers!! Of course all the “camp counselors” are musicians, so they were cool and grungy and fun. I definitely felt like I was hanging out with the Cool Kids Club of Cordoba.

Last thing, Cordoba is effing hot. I had no idea. It must be going up to 90 degrees everyday. And my host, Carmen, said this is nice compared to the summer when it went over 100 degrees. Wow, I had no idea southern Spain gets so hot.