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Might have malaria, but I more likely have the flu. Either way, I’m pretty sure I’ve already died and gone to heaven because BNH Hospital in Bangkok is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

Everything is soft and white and grey, there’s a chandelier in the main lobby and classical music playing. The nurses actually wear little white nurse hats and some of them are wearing heels. Like an asshole, I knocked over my Starbucks French Vanilla latté (no PSLs here) onto the floor when I was trying to take a photo of the nurses, and they immediately provided me with napkins. There are a million of them! This place is so well staffed it’s insane. One of them noticed me standing awkwardly in the corner with my phone plugged into the power outlet, and she moved a chair so that I could be comfortably seated while I wait.

I wish I could be sick in Bangkok all the time.

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I’ve just realized that the reason why I’m not homesick at all is because I really haven’t had to step out of my comfort zone.

All of my closest friends speak English fluently, and so does Sam, the guy who runs the front desk at my apartment building. If I get sick of Thai food (which happens often), the restaurant next door to my apartment serves burgers and “American breakfast”, and I can walk two blocks and buy a cheese pizza. I work with Canadians, in English, every day.

Today I had three very confusing Thai conversations. The first was with the tuktuk driver who brought Krista and I home from the train station. After some confusing hand gestures (is he shooing us away, or telling us to come back?), we managed to get a ride to the closest skytrain station to our house. Then we tried to do our laundry, but the cleaning lady came running out, pointing at the washing powder, and telling us “no, no!” Incredibly confusing because she was the one who showed us to use that soap in the first place. After about five minutes of confusion and saying, “okay, okay”, we went to the corner store and bought a tiny pouch of soap powder. Then we tried to ask Sam what she had said, and he didn’t seem to know either.

I’m exhausted from the day. I don’t feel homesick for any place in particular, but I am thankful that in December I will be able to speak English and dress how I want without being culturally insensitive and eat sushi and know where I’m going when I’m in a taxi.

For now, I need to learn some Thai.

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… so I convinced my roommate to take a 12 hour train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and back.

Scenery in the north was beautiful, all hills and valleys and green. Saw a man on a little boat paddling through his flooded crop field. Millions of storks in trees. Brightly coloured little Thai houses on stilts. Very cool.

But we’re approaching hour 11 now. The little boy sitting behind me has been sneakily trying to pull hairs out of my head, one by one. Everything smells like pee. I just had the choice between using a Western toilet, the seat covered in pee and hose water, the sink overflowing with mushy, sludgy, toilet paper, or to use a squat toilet, which is not easy on a speedy, bouncy train. (I chose squat toilet. It was cleaner.)

Still, one of the greatest weekends I’ve spent in Thailand, but I think I’m ready to go home and wash my feet.

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1. Almond milk
2. Lush
3. The Simpsons Halloween specials
4. My feather bed

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I hate feeling like I’m not good at my job.

I know that when my employer hired me, she understood that my academic background was in languages, not in economics, or law, or political science, or statistics, or business. So she must have seen something in me (besides the fact that I was one of maybe 2-3 other candidates.) Maybe my experience living abroad helped? Whatever. The fact that I lived in Belgium does not help me to better understand how to do an aerospace briefing or to summarize trade stats.

There are aspects of my job that I like, and I’m really excited to talk to Thai students about studying abroad in Canada. But most of the time I’m just given random tasks to complete, with minimal context and no understanding of my boss’s expectations.

In summary, I am napping today instead of going to my friend’s sky bar birthday.
At least I have close friends here, and Thai people are incredibly super nice.

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Work sucks a little less today. I’m still not really sure exactly what I’m supposed be doing, but someone dropped by my office today to ask for my help with the Canadian Food and Wine Promotion next week. A bunch of Canadian “celebs” that are known in Thailand are going to be sampling Canadian wine and food, and I have to give them all place cards and stand at the Welcome table. All morning I’ve been working on making little maps of Canada to use as place cards. At least I have a project to do.

It’s funny, when I was in Victoria a few weeks ago, I came across my report card from grade one or something. One of the comments from the teacher talked about how I worked really hard, but that I’m a perfectionist, and sometimes my work takes too long because I’m focused on the details. Some things never change.

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First day at work = so boring. SO boring! I had nothing to be worried about.

Gave my iPhone to the security guards, put my purse through a scanner, walked through a metal detector. Sat on a very nice stripey couch. Waited. Shook hands with my new boss (Azra). Was introduced to like 15 people who work in the office (I think I remember 3 names).

I have my own office. It’s also the storage space, so there are a bunch of cardboard boxes beside my desk. I have a name tag on my desk though! Very professional.

I was given a stack of documents to read, and was told to look through the files on the hard drive to see what previous interns have done.

Learned some neat stuff:

1. BUFFALO are like, the number 4 most exported meat from Thailand. Which means that somewhere in this country, buffalo are roaming around. Wtf, right? I thought they only existed in North America.

2. During the Khmer Rouge regime* in Cambodia, money was abolished. Cambodia essentially had no currency for 5 years. In 1979, when the regime came to an end, money (riel) was re-printed and literally GIVEN away to what remained of the population of Cambodia. The riel never really became popular though, and to this day, Cambodian people still prefer to use US dollars. (When I was in Cambodia, I thought people wanted me to use US dollars because I was a tourist, but nope. It’s literally just the normal currency.)

3. Cassettes are still hip in Thailand, and only 11.3% of the population has CD players

Spent the entire day in my office reading. Mostly documents about how to do business in Thailand, finances, the economy, blah blah. I don’t understand half of it. Luckily I brought Economics for Dummies with me.

Was given a Blackberry to use “for work”. It’s so ancient that it’s held together with scotch tape and the scroll button hardly works. Plus I have absolutely no idea how to use it.

Also got a swipe card to get in and out of the building. Went to the bathroom down the hall thinking that the swipe card would open the door to let me back in. It doesn’t. Got locked in the hallway and had to knock until a little Thai girl (who only ever speaks French to me) came to my rescue. Went to someone’s office to get the hallway code. He laughed at me, “I hear you got lost in the black hole. Be careful! We’ve lost a lot of interns in there.” Oopsie.

I get to speak French at work every now and then, which is cool. I can take my lunch break whenever I want (I ate deep fries bananas and a guava), and I finish work at 1 on Fridays. There are positives to this job, but I definitely don’t think it’s something I would ever want to do for a living.

*At some point, I’ll write a post about the Khmer Rouge regime, but essentially, Cambodian Hitler came into power (his name was Pol Pot), and his regime tortured and killed ONE QUARTER of the population of Cambodia. That’s MILLIONS of people, and he especially targeted the well-educated. If you go to Cambodia now, it’s very very rare to see anyone over the age of 40 (unless they’re a farmer), because so, so, so many people were murdered.

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If you’re at all interested in what’s going on in Thailand (or yenno, if you’re like me, and you just arrived in Bangkok and have no fucking clue who Yingluck Shinawatra is, or why the military is in control of the government right now), I found a pretty good article that explains everything in simple terms:

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2014/03/17/thailands-rice-subsidy-scheme-rotting-away/

and this one is alright for explaining the aftermath:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304479704579578713738586326

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Side note, ladyboys are EVERYWHERE. And it is completely acceptable and normal. I love it.

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Yesterday after a massive nap, I sent a message to one of the interns at the Belgian Embassy in Thailand, and asked where he had found an apartment. He said “Amana Sathorn”, which is in the business district, and only a short subway ride away from my work.

After attempting to barter with a couple of tuktuk drivers (and failing spectacularly), I found a pink taxi driver who was willing to take me across town to the apartment building for 200 baht (about $7).

Finding this place was quite an ordeal. After driving around in circles for a while, the driver asked me if I had a phone number for the place. I did, but since my iPhone doesn’t work here and I don’t speak Thai, he had to call. His phone was out of credit, so we had to pull over while he added some more. We drove around in more circles, and then finally he said, “I’m so sorry, I can’t find it. Not far, but you need motorbike.”

He then called out something in Thai to a guy on a scooter, and apologized again. I got on the back of this random dude’s scooter (no helmet of course), and found myself flying through the streets of Bangkok, holding onto this complete stranger’s shoulders.

After going the wrong way a couple of times, and asking several people for directions, we finally arrived at Amana Sathorn apartment.

I checked it out, it looked clean and safe, and it was very very cheap. I took it without even looking at another place.

I’m there right now, pretty much done unpacking (gotta buy some coat hangers and organize the overcrowded bathroom sink area, but I’m getting there).

There are two Belgians living in the building who I’m very excited to make friends with, and my roommate will be arriving on the 16th. The neighbourhood seems cool, kind of a cross between downtown Vancouver and the backstreets of Siem Reap. Can’t wait to explore.