You know you’re really in Southeast Asia when you look up and see this:
I am absolutely fascinated by the wires — they’re everywhere, and they look crazy, and I can’t believe that the electricity can possibly still be working in my hotel room.
Other hints that I’m not in Singapore anymore:
- The smells. You walk down the street and smell food, trash, I don’t know what. I just know that the air is usually fragrant (and not always in a good way).
- Street crossings. Walking across the streets here is like a human game of Frogger. You just walk out into traffic sometimes and pray. I’m amazed that the pedestrians here are still alive.
- Street food. There are little carts all over the place on the streets, with people cooking right in front of you. I can’t say much for the sanitation — “washing” dishes seems to involve rinsing them with a hose at the curb — but the food looks intriguing. I just wish I knew what it was (and that the conference fed me less) so I could order some of it.
Oh, and as you can see from the picture, street vendors often make the sidewalks entirely impassable — so as a pedestrian, you’re usually sharing your walking space (the side of the street) with scooters, motorcycles, and cars.
In Thailand, you also find Buddhist shrines and temples all over the place.
Unfortunately, I spent most of my day indoors. Such is the nature of conferencing. But it’s interesting to be at this conference, because (1) it has lots of useful info, like sessions on Korean students and Japanese universities, and (2) the other high school people here have lived fascinating lives. They’ve been all over the place — they’ve lived on lots of other continents, they can give travel tips for hours, and they’re all pretty committed to having lives beyond their jobs. There’s plenty of shop talk, of course, but also lots of conversation about where everyone will be taking their fall breaks.
For dinner I crashed a party at the Mandarin Oriental, probably Bangkok’s most iconic hotel. The host colleges (a group of hospitality-related schools in Europe) transported us there on river boats. These were probably superfluous — it would’ve been a ten minute walk — but they were fun. Bangkok’s river, the Chao Phraya, is pretty cool if you don’t spend too much time looking down into the murky brown water.
Now I’m back at my hotel, which looks like this:
Another day of conferencing ahead tomorrow!