Showing posts from June, 2010

At the Sign of the Jolly Frog

O the girls are so pretty, The girls are so pretty, So spicy like curry, They come to the city, And I am not picky, And the girls are so pretty, In Kanchanaburi. —Traditional Thai Song The Thais say, “Where are you going?” instead of “Hello” or “What’s up?” when they greet someone in the street, and the most usual answer, the “Not much” reply, goes, “To eat rice [food].” Thailand is an unquestionably touristy place—as much so, at first glance, as Disneyland or any theme park. Once you look beneath the surface, however, by a little patient observation or humble questioning, there remains in the jean-wearing, mall-shopping, apparently Western culture of Bangkok much to assert that This is Asia. [Something about Thai tattoos will appear here at a later date; but for now know this—there is a certain tattoo, a gridwork written in Pali on the shoulder, that imparts the invulnerability; and Thais under eighteen years old are not allowed to wear it, because they often have it applied and go p

Mysteries of Untraveled Places

No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to read it all. No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. It was appointed that the book should shut with a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page. It was appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost, when the light was playing on its surface, and I stood in ignorance on the shore. —Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities" My backpack is strung with talismans . There’s a Shiva bead in an orange thong hanging from one of the side straps, a small disco ball from a Tel Aviv bar in one of the pockets, and on one of the zippers a key chain that used to dangle a Taj Mahal snow globe, though now it looks like a half-finished game of Hangman—one more guess. There’s a Bedouin braid hung off the middle that’s red, white, and black, the