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General Pop Culture Travels

It’s A Party in The USA – Thailand Part 7

Yesterday we arrived in Ayutthaya and set up camp in a hostel called Tony’s Place. While there are some minor flaws (zero water pressure in the shower) this is hands down the coolest place I have ever stayed at while abroad. The whole front of the building is a giant deck / restaurant which is swarming with a mix of traveling folk and it’s directly across the street from Christine’s favorite bar, Chang House.

There is WiFi and decent food in the terrace as well as a tourist information desk, it very much blurs the line between hotel and hostel. Everyone here is super friendly and I’m typing this while eating a delicious BLT breakfast (I got a little tired of chicken and rice).

Our room has cable tv so we settled in and relaxed for a bit and flipped through stations before settling on MTV Africa (an odd thing to broadcast since Thailand is not in Africa). I haven’t watched MTV in years, in fact I’ve been pretty actively boycotting it since around 1997, so whenever I do catch it for a while I’m always blown away by what I see. 8 videos in a row and 7 of them (including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus) clearly used and overused auto-tune. I’m sickened, is there any musical talent required anymore? Geez. Anyway this frightened me worse when I realized I was watching MTV Africa, not MTV US, these pop stars and the ads for Jersey Shore are representing America to a lot of people and they look up to it, that is really scary.

After that we went to Chang house and hung out with Christine’s friend Earth. Awesome guy, we split a bottle of “Blend” whiskey (Distilled by Red Bull, cheap and not half bad, considering) and attempted to overcome language barriers and had a good laugh doing so. From there we went to another bar where Earth’s band was playing and found some French guys and Christine’s coworker Dan from the UK. We had a really good time talking about cultural differences and I wound up telling the one gentleman from Paris my trick to getting a Parisian to speak English, he had a really good laugh and admitted he had no doubt it would work.

From there we went to a nightclub where there was a Thai rock band playing. I was exhausted but it was a lot of fun. It seems a lot of Thai rock is set on a reggae beat so it’s very, very similar to the ska punk I grew up with on Long Island which is very strange but very comforting. Eventually the band busted into a Thai Punk cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance which turned out to be surprisingly good.

Thai covers of American music are actually really huge over here in the touristy areas but they are quite amusing to those of us who natively speak English because most, not all, of the singers don’t understand the words to what they’re singing. The singers will butcher the lyrics but hit the notes, tones and timing near perfectly. It’s an amazing phenomenon and very entertaining nonetheless. From there it was time for bed, but as a whole the day turned out to be really enlightening and fun.

Today we’re catching a boat tour around the city and checking outcome old ruins, I can’t wait to take pictures and to share them with y’all. Cheers!

Categories
General Travels

Another Day, Another Bus, Another Buddhist – Thailand Part 6

We got up this morning, had breakfast and caught a motorbike taxi to the bus station. We were actually walking their ourselves when we stumbled onto an an old man who offered us a ride as we walked past his house. He was a funny little guy with a great big friendly smile so we couldn’t help but accept his offer.

As we walked up we saw his back was covered in a large tattoo written In the Thai alphabet, so while it was illegible to me it was very detailed and very beautiful. Christine informed me that she’d seen the same design before and that it was a spell of protection that the monks do. Sadly, I did not get a picture but the idea is fascinating to me.

Thailand is one of, if not the most, populous Buddhist countries in the world and it has greatly changed a lot of my outlook on Buddhist culture. I suspect and hope that I may be misinterpreting things but at first glance there seems to be a lot of materialism and superstition around it here, which was not at all what I had understood from the beliefs previously. I also, in general know very little about Thai Buddhism and how it varies from other forms, this is something I plant research further when I return to having a regular Internet connection.

I have noticed that meat is very popular over here but beef is almost nonexistent. This fascinates me because a spiritual buddhist is typically vegetarian so I’d suspect a lot less meat as a whole, but the no beef thing one would guess to be influenced by Hindu beliefs. One this is for sure, there is definitely a friendly, laid back culture of lovingkindness here, so that says something. I definitely need to read more before I go on talking about this as I’m sure to make myself sound ignorant to someone with a greater understanding and possibly offend someone.

We are headed now to Ayutthaya which used to be the capital of Thailand before Bangkok. We’ll be meeting up with some of Christine’s friends from her job over here (note: I forget if I mentioned this but Christine is over here teaching English as a foreign language). She tells me it’s among here favorite places here, I’m excited all around.