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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monks and Planking

So I got to participate in a Monk induction ceremony. I have a strong feeling this is something that not many white people have gotten to do so I was really honoured. How many people in their lives can say they have seen newly inducted monks and been in the ceremony? But let me back up a little bit first. Noong invited me to go to Temple with her so I of course accepted because I did not want to be rude. Over here since Buddhism is the dominate religion over here going to Temple is more of a personal laid back kind of thing. There is no preacher or sermon or congregation really. You just show up at Temple, light some incense and pray to Buddha or speak to a monk if you wish. Buddha is not really worshiped as a true God per se but more of a figure head.

Anyway, I threw on the clothes that I had closest to me since it was early in the morning (they happened to be board shorts/bathing suit,a shirt and some sandals) pretty casual but Noong didn't say anything otherwise and I have worn this stuff before obviously. Well we get there and there is people everywhere! I of course was the only falang (foreigner) and everyone there was dressed in their Sunday best barring me. I felt really awkward and of place haha. There was tons of food everywhere! People were eating and drinking and laughing and they even had a band. Well it turns out Noong had taken me to a monk induction ceremony!

Now it was bad enough that I was feeling so out of place but everyone there was super nice and they stuffed me full of food until I was about to explode! Some of it was so spicy!! Well then it got interesting lol. They wanted me to actually participate in the ceremony! See there was two guys there and they were going to be monks so they had to give up all their earthly possessions and shave their heads and take vows. I had my picture taken with the monks and then I got to join all the people in dancing,chanting and moving around in a circle (around the Temple three times) after we did that the monks went up and said what I assume was their monkly (is that a word? lol) vows and then came the fun part. They threw their money at us! See they had to give away all their stuff including money so they threw it into the crowd! It was quite a mad house but I managed to come away with some baht. I am going to give it to the kids at school.
 So while I did feel out of place and awkward at first, it was really a good experience I won't forget and something I am quite sure not many foreigners get to experience. 

I went to Bangkok over the weekend to visit friends and had a good time there. Nothing super special to report but I had a good time with my friends and saw a new action movie with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds called Safe House. It was about a CIA safe house and some bad guys trying to kill a good guy. It was good not great. I also met a girl who owns her own Italian Gelato Ice cream factory and I got to have FRESH ice cream right off the line! Yall know how much I love ice cream haha. As usual I have had some great food with Noong both Thai and Western food and I got to eat at my favourite restaurant in Bangkok so all in all a pretty good weekend. I met a diaper salesman from Michigan on the train back from Bangkok. He was  real nice guy and I had no idea that people actually still did that anymore. I guess Walmart and the big guys don't sell ALL the diapers.

I am closing out the last days of the school semester here (March 15th) it has been a great learning experience for me to get this practical teaching experience. I have been teaching three different groups of kids ranging from age six to age twelve. I have come to the conclusion that the older kids are my favourite while the younger ones are much harder for me to handle (a sneak peek at parent hood I guess!) But overall it has been really good and while they didn't give me any training or materials at my school I have had a crash course in on the job training and teaching skills better than any course or training could have ever taught me. It was really good that I took that online TEFL class but it didn't prepare me practically speaking, at all. I love the freedom I have over here to teach however I like with no set rules of what I must and must not do. The other day I walked into class and some of my twelve year olds were laying on the ground all flat. I said "What are you guys doing?" they said, "Teacher Tyler we are planking!" I had to laugh at that.

 For those of you who don't know, planking is an idiotic craze that started in Australia if memory serves and you basically lay out flat anywhere you like and take a picture of it. You have to lay completely flat and still. People have actually died from doing it on building ledges etc. Personally I find it moronic but I had to laugh at my Thai kids doing it. It seems the craze has even made it to Asia. You know I have done some things that the kids have really loved this year, some games and lessons that have really gone over great. But, I have also done some stuff that really bombed. It sure has been good learning what works and what doesn't though. I will miss my kids and I am hoping that I have helped them at least a little bit. Over the course of this semester I have seen big improvement though. I want to leave you with a video of a song I found and really like a lot. The video link is at the bottom of this post. -Tyler

P.S. One last little tidbit about movies. Over here there is one English language movie channel on tv that plays movies every night at 8pm. Tonight's feature was The Graduate I am sure most of you have heard of it. Dustin Hoffman's first big movie, Ms. Robinson anyone? anyway... It is a great movie but I find the whole premise laughable. The guy sleeps with Ms. Robinson and then some how convinces her own daughter to forget all that and run away with him? Come on! lol.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I thought I would break from the usual and tell you about what and who inspires me. Firstly, anyone with a willingness to follow their heart, to break convention and get outside the box that society tries to make for each of us. There are certain famous people I look up too, people who actually try and lead decent lives in spite of their fame. Tom Hanks is a really good example. Generally speaking though it is the little people, the regular non famous people trying to make a difference that really inspire me. There is a website, and it is chock full of motivational speeches and things from regular people and famous people trying to make a difference in this world with amazing ideas.

There are certain movies that really inspire me to live my life differently, American Beauty is one of my favourite examples of this. Another great movie about free will and living your life your way is The Adjustment Bureau. They are great movies and I really recommend them to everyone. It really takes a lot of courage to change your life and do something totally different. Many people talk about doing it but never do. I have personal experience with this. Three years ago now I got laid off and decided to change my life. I remember I Googled "Work in Australia" and found out I could do a one year working holiday to Australia. I had no job in Texas and nothing holding me back so I said why not? Those two words really changed my life.

I was not really nervous until the night before I left (November 4th 2009). I can understand why most people talk about making changes but never do. Because it is not easy and it is scary! You are going into the totally new and unknown and for me I was alone. My first month was really hard in Australia everything was different and I had alot of growing up to do. I was forced to learn to rely only on myself and I wanted to give up and go home. I am so glad I didn't though because that started a journey that I am still on three years later and now I have lived and worked in Australia,New Zealand and Thailand. I have traveled Europe,Asia,South America and a splattering of other countries for a total of over twenty countries! It was a big step to make but it has changed my life for the better and I totally don't regret it! I have met so many amazing people and made some great life long friends (they know who they are). I have been lucky enough to do and see more in 27 years than most people even see in a lifetime. My passport is filled with stamps and my brain with great memories.

I have great friends and family back home and I do miss them alot. They have fully supported me in this and I really thank them for that. The best thing for me is knowing no matter how long I stay away they will always be there for me when I do return home. People say to me all the time, "It is so amazing what you are doing,I wish I could do it too" My answer is always the same. You can! Sure I may inspire some people  because im doing things differently but, I am not doing anything earth shaking. I chose this lifestyle that certainly is not for everyone. You have to learn to love a minimalist lifestyle. I don't own anything to speak of, I have no wife,house,career,car,debt etc. You have to be flexible and just go with the flow. It has its ups and downs but overall I do love it and if you can live with that you can do what I do!

There is someone in my life personally though who inspires me more than anyone on this planet I think. It is my cousin Tim Horton. He was serving our great country in Iraq and his humvee got hit by a roadside bomb (IED) and after it was all said and done they ended up having to amputate one of his legs. He went through many surgeries and a long period of recovery. To this day he still has shrapnel left in his body. Obviously an event like this is pretty life changing, I can't even imagine what it is like to lose a part of your body. Really I guess you have two choices in a situation like that. You can have the totally understandable reaction and get sad and depressed about the shitty deal you were given. Or, you can let it empower you even more to do anything you want!

My cousin Tim has taken door number two. He has run marathons,road a bike cross state, done a Tough Mudder Marathon (Google it, it is one of the hardest marathons there is because it is not just running!),he has testified in front of the US Congress,played on the national softball team for Wounded Warriors and worked with other soldiers who have lost limbs. He has let absolutely nothing get him down or get in his way. He graduated college after they told him he never would due to all his various injuries. I have two legs and have not done even half the things he has. He is the most inspirational and determined person I have ever met in my life. All these reasons and many more are why I look up to my own cousin more than anyone else. I can only hope to become half the man he is.

So to wrap this all up, I hope you are enjoying your life and what you do. If you are not then it is totally within your power to make some positive changes! P.S. This is my 250th blog post! Big milestone! Take care,Tyler

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brad Pitt Superstar!

Today Noong and I and a group of friends went from our little town to the Thai/Burmese Border. Surprisingly it was only just over 10 kilometers away. For you American readers, that isn't that far lol. So there was a total of six of us and we hopped on our motorbikes and left at 10:30am. Off we went for our adventure! I was the youngest one of the group but I don't mind, most of my friends here are older but all very good people with a lot of experiences to share.

So we drive and drive on the highway then the road ends and we hit a dirt road. We start to drive more and get into the hills and mountains. Much different than our little beach town. I start to realise that the people up in this area don't see many farang (white people) because I was certainly getting a lot of attention. We get to a sign and the border between Thailand and Burma. Now I am in two place at once! I can finally take that off my bucket list. At this point it is only my friend Ron and I because we have left Noong and the others behind. The road to get to the actual border was a TERRIBLE rough,seldom used dirt road and my butt was sore after that ride! It wasn't on a sheer mountain face where if I fell off I would die but, the road itself was seldom used and really really terrible, one of the worst I have been on and we were on that road for about 6 K's!

We get to the guard station and the guards are so excited to see us, I seriously doubt they get many visitors haha. They yell out, "HELLLLOOOOO" and chatter away to Ron and I in their semi good English (well it was better than our Thai haha). They invite us in for coffee because it was starting to rain. They had really good coffee! Now to be honest with you, I have never had a particularly good experience at the many borders in the many countries I have been too. But, nor have I had a particularly terrible experience either. I have had to pay "administration fees" aka bribes, I have been searched and questioned but never REALLY harassed before. So, I would say thus far I have gotten off pretty easily. Had more issues getting into/out of America than I have anywhere else! So it was really nice to see some really pleasant border guards who were just happy to see us and have a chat.

I heard them chattering on in Thai then one of them pointed at me and said "Brad Pitt Superstar!" haha I had to laugh. This is so funny because I knew he thought I looked like Brad Pitt! This might come as a surprise to some of my readers, even I don't think I look all that much like him but, people from around the world, men and women in tons of different countries have said I do! So we all got a good laugh out of that haha. I just cannot seem to escape that comparison (not that its a bad thing lol). Even when I am unshaven and looking rough like today I still get it.

After our jaunt at the border Ron and I drove back to meet everyone who stayed behind and then we went for a huge lunch feast! It was really good and fun to do something new and exciting and see friends and get a good meal. Tonight I will have another good meal because we are having a farewell dinner for Matt a teacher friend of mine who is leaving tomorrow. So it has been a big day for me. I am also learning how to play Boules or as they call it here, Patong. Lawn balls whatever you want to call it. Noong was the champion last year so I have a good person to teach me how :)

Well that's all I got for now. Hope yall have a good weekend,Tyler

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Cultures

This will just be a short entry but today was the second anniversary of Noong's husband's death from cancer. She asked me if I wanted to go to the temple with her early this morning and have a remembrance celebration for him. We got there and burned some incense and she said a prayer to Buddha for his spirit. Then a monk came over and chanted some stuff I couldn't understand. They gave a food and water offering for Pete's spirit in the afterlife and prayed once more.

See the Buddhist believe in a life after death, but more than just a "Heaven". They believe in the spirit afterlife and that the spirit is actively around and doing things (hence the food and water offerings). In the Christian faith we believe that your soul goes to Heaven and stays there if you are a Believer but once you are in Heaven that is just about it. The soul cannot transcend between Heaven and Earth on a regular basis but, the Buddhist don't believe that. I was really interested to see how another culture remembers their dead.

In a way I felt out of place and like an intruder on such an intimate thing, a wife grieving for her husband but she invited me to go and I am glad I went. I respect all religions and all cultures and I think almost every religion in the world has something good to offer. It was a neat experience for me. Today we will be having a party to remember the good times from when he was alive. I never got to meet Pete but everyone who knew him has said he was a great guy and I can tell that Noong loved him very much so he must have been.

The party was a total meat feast and Noong cooked all day and made some great food.  I offered to help but she shooed me out of the kitchen as usual (to be honest I was thankful haha) we had many of Pete's friends over to celebrate his life and had a great time. I did not know him but judging by the amount of people he must have been really loved. So now I am full of food and drink and happy :) It was a good day.

One last thing, remember when I mentioned earlier in my blog that living life here with little to no restrictions has made me more aware of everything? Well it has! The other day I had to navigate alone on my motorbike back home from somewhere I had only been once (as a passenger) but I made it! In Texas I would have been lost for hours without my GPS or calling my dad (he was my GPS before I got one haha) but here I am so much more aware of everything because you have to be. There is not all the health and safety guidelines we have back home so you have to watch everything. I think this has been a good skill to learn though. 

That is really all I have for now. I knew this would be short but I wanted to write it out so I remember this day. Sometimes I do blog more for my memories than for my readers per se. Thanks for putting up with it. I do need to apologise to yall though, every time I say I am just going to write a short little blog it turns into a big long one haha so thanks for sticking with me.-Tyler

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Koh Tao

 I believe I told yall earlier that I was going over the weekend to and island down south called Koh Tao to visit a friend of mine from England. Well lucky for me I didn't have school Friday so I got to leave early. I made it down to Chumpon, the town where I was to get the ferry to Koh Tao from, without any issues surprisingly haha. Well on the way over I met three guys from England and we decided to get a guest house together to save money. It was the birthday of two of the guys so I knew it was going to be a big weekend.

Well we got there and got settled into our place and went out for some drinks and to meet my friend Ash who I hadn't seen in two years! She is the cousin of my good mate Scott and all of us met as "the wolf pack" on my first time in Thailand. We all had some drinks and had a good time. We met some other people and it was great fun just relaxing and getting away from my little town for a while and being able to speak English!We did some snorkeling and just hanging out. Saw the fire dancers on the beach and all the usual island stuff.  I did meet a girl who saw my Texas Longhorns hat and she was from Dallas so it was nice to meet another Texan just because of my hat haha.

Saturday night was the big birthday bash. It consisted of much drinking and festivities the usual birthday stuff haha. Well my new friends made an alcohol fueled decision to go get tattoos. I declined this offer because I have a strict policy of being sober when I get tattoos haha. All things considered though, their tattoos actually look pretty good considering the state they were in haha. I woke up in the morning after our big night out and I had the ferry to catch home Sunday afternoon because I had work on monday :( it sucked for me because while they went on traveling and having fun but such is life. One of my big memories is there was a guy on the island, he had a street stall for food and he was like an Iron Chef! He was throwing stuff all over the place, catching it,slicing and dicing, I wish I had a video! It was pretty amazing!

I had a really good time meeting those guys and seeing my friend Ash she is a really cool girl. I have some good memories of that weekend I got to work on my tan a little. On the way back home to my little town I met a German guy named Toby. We had time to kill before we left on our respective trains. We decided to get a bite to eat while we waited. I found out he was 39 and had lived in America before. He was a really cool guy and was self employed so he could travel freely. I think that was a great lifestyle if you can make it work.

Well Toby and I started to share our life stories and we found out we had alot in common actually. He used to be a lawyer at a big law firm in Germany and he was doing pretty well for himself apparently. He told me he had a beautiful girlfriend and all the things that a successful should seem to have. But he admitted to me he was totally unhappy with his life. He said he was very materialistic and superficial. To have someone freely admit that to another person is really a big step I really  admired that about him. He also said one day that he just got sick of it all. Over a period of two years he broke up with his girlfriend,quit his job,sold most of his stuff and started his new life.

You many people talk about wanting to make changes and wanting something else. Few have the courage to do it. In the top five regrets of the dying number two is "I only lived for what others wanted and not for myself" I could see that Toby is now a person who is true to himself and I like to think that I am also. I don't have a house or a car or a career or a big family or anything that most average Americans have. What I do have is the freedom to be who I want to be and do what I want. My path is not for everyone but I am staying true to myself.

Toby and I spent just over an hour together but we probably shared more in depth stuff about life and living than I have discussed with anyone in a long time. A person is no longer a stranger after a conversation like that. We found out that American Beauty is a favourite movie for us both. You know all it takes is a "hello" to a stranger and you never know who you are going to meet or what you will have in common. I might see him again or maybe never again but we sure did have a good chat. When you are traveling, you are so much more open and accepting than you would be at home. If you are reading this ask yourself when was the last time you had a conversation with a stranger? Much less a "serious" conversation. I challenge you to try it! You just might surprise yourself. 

Just a few other bits and pieces before I leave you for now. Smoking is not so big back home anymore, people know the dangers of it and it is getting more and more expensive. In Asia it is the opposite. It costs less than two dollars for a pack of cigarettes and many many people smoke. You can buy them everywhere. I am not a smoker and I don't discriminate against people who do smoke, it is your choice but there is nothing worse for me than seeing a beautiful girl stick a cigarette in her mouth and light up. On the train journey home from Koh Tao the only option they had was third class but I at least got a bench seat next to some local Thais. One of them spoke half way decent English and it only cost me 1.75 USD for a 2 hour journey! Believe it or not that is not my record for my cheapest journey. I once took a four hour train ride for 33 baht. That is just a hair over 1 USD! I don't know how they can make it so cheap, but they don't provide you any luxuries in third class either lol.

In Australia and New Zealand (the main places where I rode trains on a consistent basis) they were air conditioned little tubes that were totally sealed, you couldn't open the windows really much at all. There was all these rules, A 200 dollar fine for eating or putting your feet on the seats! There was rules and restrictions for everything. In Thailand there no no air conditioning unless you pay extra, no rules or restrictions. They constantly sell food and cigarettes on the train. The windows are thrown open and smoke and dust are blown everywhere! People are eating,smoking and chattering away. You can put your feet all over the seats if you wish. Every time I have rode a local train I have always been offered a couple of snorts out of a bottle of ever present Thai whiskey from some local guy. They love their whiskey and it sure does make the journey go faster haha.

You know what? Living here in Thailand there is not many laws or restrictions. Many of the laws they do have are very poorly enforced or you can buy your way out of trouble. It may seem to you like I am here living in a lawless wild west type country but it is not like that at all. Sure I can drive as fast or as slow as I want on the road (no posted speed limits in my town), I can drive as crazy as I want, I can smoke or not smoke anywhere I want,basically the point I am trying to make is that within reason you can do whatever you want here. Back home and in most Westernized countries there is so many rules and law and restrictions of what you can and can't do. People are constantly being told how to behave and how to live. People here seem to have just more general common sense and life experience. If you live in a place where for example a "boat dock" its just a few wooden slats strung out into the ocean with a sharp drop off on either side and NO railing you tend to be a little more savvy. Living here has made me more alert to my surroundings. More alive if you will and I like it! Even though it may not be everyone's cup of tea seeing as for example you cannot put toilet paper in the toilet due to their subpar sewer system. Ok my rant is over :)

Yall have a good week,Tyler

Monday, February 06, 2012

Hua Hin

This past weekend I went to Hua Hin for yet another visa stamp. By immigration standards it was a breeze (I still had to wait two hours lol) waiting two hours is considering getting in and out quickly though haha. Well I had never been to Hua Hin before, it is the largest major city close to me and it is a very popular vacation destination. It is also where most of The King's family is located when they are not at the royal palace or the hospital in Bangkok where he stays. They are known for their good sea food ( I had some good mussels). Well in addition to this I took a ride in a pedi cab and saw two twin Japanese brothers play the drums,flute and guitar. They were very similar to "Stomp" the African Fusion Band I saw back in Buenos Aires,Argentina. Stomp was VERY high energy, there was well over 1000 people there and much alcohol and illegal narcotics (Don't worry I didn't do any of the illegal stuff). Stomp had a huge band and they were all about noise and energy and power.

There was maybe 100 people at this free concert (if that) and these guys were all about precision. They had apparently played at Carnegie Hall four times! These guys were so good that instead of beating their drums simultaneously (which is hard enough to do) they could literally beat the drums IN BETWEEN each other's strokes. When one brother was on the down stroke the other brother would be on the upstroke. They could do it without even looking at each other, just by listening.  Another amazing thing I saw them do that I have never ever seen before is both brothers played one guitar! Allow me to explain, They had Japanese style guitars (more like banjo's than guitars) and some of their music almost sounded like old bluegrass country music. Well they would sit really close to each other and intertwine their arms. One brother would play the neck of the guitar and the other brother would play the strings at the bottom. It was pretty amazing. Sad thing is, I never even got their names. I just know they were here for a cultural exchange in Thailand and I saw them for free :) I wish I would have had a video!

I told you Hua Hin was one of the "King's cities" so obviously there is pictures of the King and Queen all over the city well that is true for all of Thailand not just Hua Hin. Every city has pictures of them,billboards,posters,everything. They really love the Royal Family here and I can't even begin to imagine how many millions of dollars all these posters and billboards have cost. I was really craving some "falang" (Western) food after my Thai seafood lunch so I decided to treat myself to a steak dinner. Unfortunately for me it was really not good at all :( my steak was cooked improperly and the baked potato was bad) it was a let down. But, food service in Thailand is hit or miss with Western food because that obviously is not what they normally cook and you cannot complain and tell them to take it back to the kitchen. It is a no refunds kinda deal. Eh I lost ten bucks so such is life. In Thailand when you are eating in a group as I have mentioned before, food almost NEVER comes out at the same time. So, you just have to eat immediately when you get your food which back home would be quite rude but, not here! Also, the waiters/waitresses almost never come check on you! So you better get what you need the first time around because you wont see them again until it is time to pay your bill lol.

I also had a massage by a blind lady. I cannot recommend these massages enough! When someone is blind their sense of touch is SO much more enhanced. Sure, the first time you get a massage by a blind person it can be a little unnerving but, they are people too and they have to make a living. She was very nice but she was about 70 years old! She didn't speak a lick of English either. When I had my massage in Cambodia by Nika, she could speak English really well. This lady did a pretty good job and it wasn't that expensive but she did mention for me to take my shorts off, which I had no problem with because every time I get a massage I just stay in my boxers. Well before I knew what was happening, fast as a cheetah she whipped off my boxers too! So there I was totally naked! It was a little unnerving at first but, I figured I had already paid for this and she was blind so what was the harm? She was totally professional and it was a good massage but it was first totally nude massage. So other than the unexpected nudity everything was fine.

Well that is all I have for now. Yall take care,Ty

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Random serious musings

 Every now and again I like to write "serious" blogs. I always try my best not to seem preachy or holier than though or just plain annoying. I just want to express my thoughts the best way I know how and I want to give you insight into my life, the good the bad, and the ugly. So I thank you for bearing with me and allowing me to spill out whatever it is I choose to write.

I just read the other day that Kang Kek Lew known as "Duch" was sentenced to life in prison for being the head of the prison in Cambodia known as S-21. Most of my reader may not know anything about The Khmer Rouge, I know I didn't until I got to Cambodia. You can read more about it on Wikipedia but basically there was a man named Pol Pot and he was a dictator in Cambodia in the between 1975 and 1979 he and his followers murdered over 2 million people. They abolished money, closed schools,killed anyone with an education and brought Cambodia back to "year zero". I have personally been to S-21 (the former school turned into a prison/torture house is now a museum). I had never even heard of the Khmer Rouge before I went to Cambodia but right when you walk into S-21 and the "killing fields" there is a huge tower. This tower is made out of human skulls from the people that died. It is so shocking and "in your face". I was really glad to see that Cambodians are not denying their history and their past and are not trying to sweep it under the rug so to speak.

It was so depressing to know how much hatred and negativity there can be in this world. Especially when confronted with it like that. When I visited the concentration camps in Germany I felt that while they certainly did not deny what happened there they tried to soften the image a little for people and make it a little more bearable to people visiting there. In Cambodia there was no such efforts, you can still see blood on the walls where people were tortured and killed. There is many many pictures of people taken when they were processed into S-21 only to be tortured and killed. I somehow managed to get myself lost in S-21 and separated briefly from my friends (there was no signs in English) and I accidentally wandered into some sort of basement area and I saw a very large pile of clothing that I can only assume was from people who were tortured and killed there. I left quickly out of that room but that image will haunt me for the rest of my life. 

Duch is already 70 years old and now he is going to spend the rest of his life in prison for helping to torture and murder so many people but Pol Pot and many many of the leaders of the Khmer Rouge died or moved away before they could be punished for their crimes and nothing will bring back the millions of people who were murdered for no reason, even babies were killed! I also heard a story in the news (and saw the video) of where a tennis star clearly threw his shirt to a 14 year old girl and she was so excited to get it but a stupid lady snatched it right out of the air and wouldn't give it back to her!! :(  She then auctioned the shirt off for charity (or so she says) because of all the negative reaction she was getting and the 14 year old girl, her mother had to buy back the jersey for almost 7000 dollars! :(

You might wonder why I am writing a blog about war and hate and misery. I am writing you all this because I want to make it clear that this world can be a terrible place where horrible things happen. But, it doesn't always have to be that way. There can be so much good and so much to look forward to in this world. I have countless examples right in my own life of people doing good things for me for no other reason than just to selflessly help me out. Time after time I have been able to have my faith in humanity restored and realise that this life is worth living with a positive outlook. I just finished re-watching one of my favourite movies, American Beauty. If you haven't seen it you should check it out! But basically it is about a guy who has a boring mundane life and he hates it. Then he starts to make positive changes in his life and he really starts LIVING! It is a movie that really makes you examine your own life. There is no reason you cannot have the life you really want, you just have to WANT to make the changes necessary to have that life.

If you turn on the news 99% of the things you will hear or read will be negative. But I challenge you to look for the good in this world and in your own life and not to focus on the bad. Your life is your own and you can make it as amazing as you want.Traveling has really put me in touch with my own mortality. I have come to not fear death at all but to welcome it. Not that I WANT to die anytime soon, I certainly don't! I hope I have many many more years left on this earth but I know that death is just the next chapter, the new beginning of something else. In one of my favourite movies, American Beauty right at the end Kevin Spacey's character says that before you die life really does flash before your eyes in a moment. Only it is a moment that goes on forever. I hope that when my time comes I will get to see all the places I have been too, all the people I have met and all the great experiences I have had. I hope that in my final moments I will fondly remember the amazing family and friends I have had throughout my life and how truly lucky and blessed I was. That's really all I got for now. -Ty

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Thai Markets

I am not trying to be Tony Robbins or be all preachy and seem like my life is 100% amazing all the time and so much better than your own. It really is not but, I do try and stay positive and realise how lucky I am to be able to have the freedom to do what I do and enjoy life. I found a fairly inspirational video on Youtube from The Terminator himself so I thought I would share it.

Ok now to the real stuff. I do not believe that I have told you anything about Thai Markets yet. In my little town everyday they have an outdoor market (it is Thailand's version of Walmart just a little more "fresh" and outdoors lol) Once a week on Thursday they have the BIG market where they sell everything you can imagine. I went with Noong today even though it was raining. It has been raining for three days straight already! It is making me crazy and I feel like a prisoner trapped indoors all the time! Here when it rains it REALLY rains! I mean it pours down hard! Normally it doesn't last all that long but, you had better hope to be indoors when it starts because you will be soaked haha. It is not even the rainy season yet!

Anyway, back to the markets. In Thailand there are very few "traditional" grocery stores like what we would have back at home. At home you can go to Walmart 24 hours a day and shop in sanitized air conditioned comfort for things at regulated prices. You have no idea how or where these things came from you just know you can go to the cash register after waiting in a long line and pay for your goods with cash,credit,debit,check or other. Walmart is an enormous corporation that employees more people that the US Army and from what I have heard generally does not treat their employees all that awesome. But 98% of Americans don't give a shit about any of that they just want their stuff available to them now!

In Thailand you go to the market and its outdoors, rain or shine. It is basically a bunch of tables and tarps set up in the middle of a random big field somewhere. People will have live animals,dead animals,fish (live and dead) toys,clothes,food and fruit and veggies of all kinds, guns,knives,power tools,candy,shoes,Viagra and anything else you can imagine for sell. Immediately when you walk in you are assaulted visually by the sights and smells of the market. Most of the time the smells are pleasant from the food being cooked fresh in front of you. Sometimes though on a hot day you get a real bad "fishy" smell from the fish just sitting there in the hot sun (Thais are not big on refrigeration and their bodies are used to it). You also here the squeals of the various animals being killed and butchered for their meat. Kids are laughing, adults are bargaining,people are begging for money. All of this is going on and you are just walking around shopping!

Needless to say that is completely different from Walmart haha. But, that being said I like it. I like knowing where my food comes from and I like knowing it is fresh. I like paying with cash (the only way you can pay here) I like being able to haggle. I also enjoy supporting the local economy and I enjoy trying new crazy foods I can't get at home. This experience won't be to everyone's liking but I sure do like it. I prefer this to shopping at Walmart. Totally unrelated but, I wanted to share that Noong (my housemate) and I have recently found all the seasons of Macgyver on the Internet and we have been watching quite a few. This brings back good memories for me because this was one of the first shows I remember watching with my dad when it would come on. It is like going back in time haha. Such a classic show but man his mullet looks terrible lol.

On Saturday I am taking a weekend trip to the largest major city close to me called Hua Hin. It is my first time to go there and I am excited to get away for a weekend. I am so sick of this rain and I hope it lets up soon! I have made a few new friends here so that is good (haven't seen them much due to this weather!) I also have a good friend of mine who just arrived in Thailand today and I am really excited to see her again soon for the first time in two years! It should be fun! I have just a few more weeks of school left and then it is summer time :) I guess that is all I have for you now. Sorry my life has been so boring lately haha.

Yall take care as always,Tyler