Monday, October 22, 2012
There is plenty of work in education here as a new fervor to learn English has brought Americans, English, and Australians and the Thai people's desire to learn Chinese and Korean has brought teachers from these nations. Thai people firmly believe you should learn a language from a native speaker. So jobs are here, but the pay for these jobs is held in check because of the numerous teachers looking for a break from their home country and a life here in Thailand.
Most teachers pay here is not bad considering the cost of living, but what you'll find is that it doesn't have much growth potential. Thai schools have a very different idea about raises than western schools. So most of us end up supplementing our income with tutoring.
Anchisa, the lovely young lady in the first photo is currently studying in Harvard. Mai the proud gentleman using his only day off to come study with me, is a VP for Dumex Thailand. Thailand's leading baby food and child supplement company.
Teaching in Thailand is very rewarding, students are respectful and happy to learn. You won't get rich, but the environment is relaxing and the living is easy.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Keeping to my mantra of getting out of Bangkok more often I recently visited Santorini Park. On a normal day this is about 2 hours south of Bangkok on the way to Hua Hin. It's pretty hard to miss as the ferris wheel towers above the free way and will assure you of your arrival. You really can't miss it.
For Thai people this place is superb because it offers them the opportunity to do what they do best, take pictures. Thai people can not get enough photos. The developers of this park knew their audience well. MY STUDENTS ALWAYS KNOW MY FAVORITE 2 LAWS OF WRITING AND PUBLIC SPEAKING. "Audience and Purpose, Ajarn," my students just mumbled. Well they got it right at this park. Hip little shops wind around cute rides until you reach the main court yard where the big rides dominate. There are more photo opportunities here than even the Thais can exhaust in a day. It is currently at about 75% capacity, as some shops have not yet opened, but with the crowds flocking down from Bangkok and up from Hua Hin I predict great things for this ambitious cross between an outlet mall, theme park, and photo set.
My highest recommendation is for the 6D shooting game. Only 4 minutes long, but the visual quality is amazing, the seat is shaking, there is a breeze in your face as you zoom along, and best of all "YOU GET TO SHOOT ZOMBIES!" If you are courageous, I mean really fearless, you can try the sling shot--video footage follows.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Woody Allen’s newest film is worth a frantic trip through down town Bangkok traffic at rush hour to catch the 1 of 3 showings in the tiniest and furthest back corner theater on Sukhavmit. Hey, Woody Allen films are not for everyone, in truth to appreciate his work it’s best to be Jewish, neurotic, a hypochondriac, born before 1990, had your heart ripped out do to someone’s ambiguous affections, or at the very least a connoisseur of lovely women (let’s face it no other franchise but the bond films can boast a better list of starlets) or your just not going to make the trip to the off mall kind of theaters where his films play. For anyone whose interested where I am on the list of targt market characteristics, every one of them fits me but Jewish.
So about the film, well it’s not one of his best. Critics have come out and said his tour of European excellence died in Rome, but these critics are looking at the film in a very narrow light. I would like to open the aperture a bit and let you see the entire paining. You see Allen’s work is not to be taken in one glance and it is not to be taken in with one film. This film is a classic Allen full of romantic angst and spanning 4 interesting couples. Our early twenties ‘God your best friend is hot’ couple is perhaps the most fun. Our super hot newlyweds from the sticks come to Rome to make good’ is certainly the sexiest. Our parents the age of great grandparents (Woody and Judy Davis) dealing with their daughter marrying a communist scenario brings Woody back in front of the camera, so that wonderful. Finally our everyman character, one Woody does better than he gets credit, in the vise of an Italian couple who have to deal with becoming famous for no reason. You see, classic Woody.
I don’t think it is a good idea to focus on his films individually, because our most prolific living film maker is on a journey and his fans and critics need to simply get on board. His creative genius is his inexplicable ability to create through farcical situations feelings that we have all experienced. Giving away our daughter to a man we don’t love, finding our love’s best friend the sexiest girl in the world, believing a move to the city is all we need to make it big, and of course what would it be like to be famous for a day. Come on, we’ve all dreamed these dreams and felt these feelings.Please don’t see To Rome With Love as a piece of art to be hung on the wall, see it as a brush stoke upon a masterpiece that Mr. Allen has been working on—while we watch—since the late sixties. His work is delightfully funny and heartfelt and although perhaps this one is not along the strides of Annie Hall or even Midnight in Paris, it is a joy for those of us who have been watching the maestro work.
Friday, July 20, 2012
I am not sure when this happened, but at some point in my life--it seems like during my childhood--spiders began to become my nemesis. I don't suffer from arachnophobia or anything, but I must admit the little critters really make my skin scrawl. Recently I began to wonder if it's not my fault for feeling a sense of loathing towards these 8-legged freaks, but it is their fault. I usually take responsibility for my problems or try to, but in truth I think spiders tend to seek me out and challenge me with their multi-eyed stare and their hopping about. (Jumping spiders really are the worst.)
Pictured here is my latest combatant. I lifted a trash bag and found myself eye balls to eye balls with this beast. Thank God Thailand doesn't regulate the voltage of it's bug zapper rackets because this sucker wasn't going down without a little extra voltage surging through the strings.
Simply put, "SIM 1 and SPIDERS 0."
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Keeping with my 2012 quest to escape the concrete confines of Bangkok, I made a journey south of the city to Ao Manao Bay. I hadn't been to this beach location in more than 5 years and, considering how much I had loved it the last time, I was filled with trepidation at he thought of the inevitable changes that had probably occurred.
I've never been happier to be wrong. Ao Manao Bay is only 4 hours out of Bangkok by car, but its just the burier needed to stave off the big investors from speculating and ruining the value of this little sea side gem of a vacation spot. Imagine a vast beach of white sand, where in the 3 days I spent there I shared it with only about 15 to 20 people a day. My hotel room, looking out over the beach, was only $25 US dollars a night.
What about cleanliness of the beach? To put it simply, the beach is on a military base where soldiers--probably connected ones--exercise by jogging on the sand and carrying brooms instead of riffles so they can sweep up any debris. I jogged and walked barefoot on the beach and felt as though I'd fallen into a different time.
One night in Denver Colorado the fact that I live in Bangkok came up while we were having or Identifications checked to go into an adult establishment. It was the mountain size bouncer who was looking at my passport who had asked why I was using a passport for an I.D. When my friends said I was from Bangkok he started laughing. "Bangkok, I know that city well, lived there for six years. Let me tell you the key to living in Thailand, get the hell out of Bangkok."
At the time I probably didn't agree with him. I love the energy, chaos, and unpredictability of the metropolis of Bangkok--yet with each passing year--I must admit, my journeys out side the city are often much more memorable.
Recently I took a trip up north of the city close to the death railroad in Kanjanaburi with some of my co-workers. We stayed at Home Phu Toey resort, our probable location for our high school camp for S.K.I.P.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant
One of Bangkok's legendary dining locations has a social issue at the forefront of it's success. Originally opened close to Bangkok's thriving red light district in order to educate and protect prostitutes about the risks of STDs, still today they offer you a free condom with your bill. If you visit this fair metropolis, at least come and spend one evening with them. The food is deliciously Thai and the cause is good.
A Bangkok original, Cabbages & Condoms also offers a chance for some rather interesting tourist photos. You can take a quick shot with CONDOM MAN as I did here.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
During the 2010 college football season I made the trip from Bangkok to Lincoln for a Nebraska football game. College football fans awake every Saturday morning across the USA and turn on ESPN's Game Day, it's a tradition for millions of the sports devotes. Nebraska, where I'm from, is a state of football fanatics. As I wrote in my novel about Nebraska life / Bangkok life "ECHO POOL" the games on Saturday are not just an event, they are THE event. Families travel from every corner of the state to Lincoln to watch our Huskers represent our homeland. Friends from high school days, groups from churches, coworkers from the farm and ranch industry or meat packing industry and many more gather in the capital city. The game is about football, but to me it's always been about family. My father worked for the University of Nebraska for 27 years so our loyalty to THE BIG RED has always been deep. Now I have a little piece of history to remember my roots by with this clip from ESPN.
Friday, May 25, 2012
So a typical day in South East Asia can include many things that might surprise you. This was an interesting morning in my neighborhood. When the local kids were playing with a rather SE Asia pet.
My buddy Speedy hyperbole Arnold, of Bangkok Knockout fame, called me up to let me join in the fun. http://youtu.be/UiboqzsWO04 (more about Speedy).
Thursday, May 24, 2012
It's the blessed time when the summer heat in Bangkok finally breaks to the rainy season. Of course when the earth has been being baked with 100% temperatures for days on end the problem is the water, when it falls, can not penetrate so it begins to roll.
The flood of 2011 was a wake up call to those of us in one of the world's biggest sea level cities. I shot this video 2 days before I was driven from my home for 3 weeks. Global warming or government mismanagement of water flow, 2011 was an economic nightmare and an emotionally draining event that put us all in survival mode.
I love the rain, but I must say I'll be keeping a keen eye on the level of water in my streets. If the floods come again can someone please rent me a couch or guest room at a REALLY LOW PRICE.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
The future of books is Kindle. What's cool is that Kindle is making things available on any format: phones, iPads, Androids, PC, and so on. So I am proud to offer my NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL Journeys of the Astropaths on Kindle.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
When Those Who Hear came out I was fortunate enough to get a lot of praise about the book. I also was fortunate enough to get to teach the book at my school Satit Kaset International here in Bangkok. The students gave me an amazing and often times humbling amount of critical suggestions. One thing kept being brought up, "I wish this was a comic or graphic novel."
So at some point about 2 years ago I fell in love with the idea of finding an artists that could bring these ASTROPATH characters to life. 3 artists took a shot at the series and my wallet took a big hit in hiring them. All of them were talented and brought something different to this story. In the end, I hired a Canadian artists, Darlene Nguyen to work with me. We have never met in person, but our consistent chatting on Skype and Gmail have made us creative collaborators and friends.
Problem, friend or not, Darlene is a professional artist who can not work for free; therefor, I needed to hire her to do the work. I've spent a small fortune getting this going, but now we finally have the opening chapter up on KINDLE. My game plan is unique. We will sell the book now, even though it is not finished, so that I can keep paying Darlene. BUT, every time we finish a chapter Kindle will send buyers the link for them to re-download the updated version for FREE. In total there will be 4 long chapters all included in the first book.
It's time to see what people think and I'm extremely excited about that idea. Please join our Astropath FB page and come onto KINDLE and buy the book.
Friday, March 2, 2012
I know I know, what happened to the ThaiXpat guy? The flood was his last story and then NOTHING...
Ominous? Creepy? In a film when a character is lost during the title wave of a major flood and the character does not reemerge either suddenly to save the day or floating face down in the murky waves, the FilmaPhiles will all say, "dangler" they completely dropped that character.
It is my love of films which compelled me to at least float by the lens one last time.
No I survived the flood, despite being out of my home for 3 weeks and countless hardships that come from homelessness and so forth. I have long been back in my home and back to work. All is well in the Kingdom of Smiles and I am smiling again.
When I say all is well I mean all is really awesome! 2012 film work is booming with so much action being designed you can smell the testosterone in the air above Bangkok. Spoiler alert, Chocolate 2, Tum Yum Goong 2, and the outside Cinderella story FIGHTING FATE are all in process. Action lovers are going to have a hell of a year.