Monthly Archives: June 2012

Bridging the Gap – Can We?

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My friend from university came to stay with me a few weeks ago.  This was both a good and bad thing.

Firstly, while it was really nice to see somebody from home, I am working here.  It’s a bit depressing to see her and not be able to actually do anything.  Also, it’s a bit of a disruption to my life.  My room here is tiny – I don’t even have furniture, and it had to become home to all of her belongings too.

Most of the above, I really don’t mind, but the main thing is time.  I haven’t seen her since I finished university a year ago.  I’ve barely spoken to her since then.  I’ve worked in Korea and she’s worked in Spain.  We’ve both done a lot, and changed a lot since we last saw eachother.  I don’t tell people from home the majority of what happens here, and I’ve been away from home for eleven months now.  I’ve got used to living within Asian culture and have been moulded by the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve had with them in that time.  I’ve probably become a different person, and there is a sea of information and happenings that people from home have no idea about.  And it’s probably the same for my friend.

For friends that used to live together, and therefore knew everything about each other, it is a bit strange.  It’s a funny feeling to go from being so close to being so…. distant; to go from knowing everything to knowing nothing.  Though they say that true friends can go months without seeing or communicating with each other, and this is true, there is such a vast amount that has happened since we last saw each other, and there’s no way really to bridge it.  Our friends aren’t even mutual anymore, it’s a strange situation.  Our stories wouldn’t make sense to one another without a ton of background information, and everything would take far longer to explain than we have.

Obviously, our senses of humor are the same as they were, and our interests remain largely unaltered.  We still get on, fantastically, and it’s still a friendship I want to keep.  But now there are jokes or comments that the other doesn’t understand, ulterior motives to things, and even habits that we are unaware of.

How much things have changed since I’ve been away has been highlighted by my friend’s visit.  When I’d return to my hometown after four months of uni, the only thing that made me realise I’d even be gone would be the odd new shop in town or new bedding in my parent’s house.  This has been far longer, so I guess the effects are stronger.  The longer you are away and out of what so many regard ‘real life’, the further you drift from those that are still there, the harder it becomes to have anything even to say to each other.  Your priorities are different, your lifestyles are different, your mindset is different, and it becomes more and more difficult to relate to their problems or successes, as even these seem strange and unfamiliar – things that you may consider not even worth mentioning, or things that are just so far from your version of reality now that you can’t really comprehend them.

I’ve heard the same can happen even to those who stay at home: there is an age at which many start to settle, get married, have children.  For the ones that don’t have any desire to do this at this time, if ever, they find the friendships with their friends become hard to maintain.  People that used to be so similar become so different, and resentment builds up easily.  This person who chooses not to get married and have children when everyone around her seems to be finds conversations suddenly consist only of ‘wedding talk’ and ‘baby talk’ and finds herself uninterested and therefore excluded.  I guess it’s a similar thing.

The friend who visited me was one of the people I was closest to in England, and so it makes me wonder how life will be when I go back, if I go back.  In my head, everyone I left behind is still a friend as close as they were when I was there, despite the fact we don’t communicate as much.  But for those still there, do they regard me in the same way, or have I simply disappeared?  For those that consider our friendship ready to be picked up again on my return, will we find we have drifted apart too much to do so?  Will it be possible to bridge the gap that my long absence has undoubtedly caused?

Miss L

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The Irony of Traditions

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Farang, farang kru, point and laugh followed by farang: words and actions I hear on a more than daily basis.  ‘Farang’ directly translates as ‘foreigner’ for those of you that have never been to Thailand – for those that have visited, I am sure this is a word that you would understand and have heard.

As I understand, Thai’s mean no malice by the word, but the actions that sometimes accompany it may be different.  Some English teachers I have met really take offence to the word and get annoyed when hearing it.  I, on the other hand, am aware that it is a cultural thing and that this can sometimes cause offence.  I am yet to truly understand the fascination with white skin and foreigners because Filipinos (although still classified as farang) do not seem to receive the same stunning treatment that we do.

Although I’m unsure how true this really is, I was told that in the remote parts of Thailand an old folk tale is told which involves farang coming in the middle of the night and eating small children that misbehave.  This does explain why some children in the villages run away, screaming ‘Farang!’ when we approach, but I can’t believe that this is true.  I asked myself why a story like this would be told – but remembered that in my childhood my mum used to tell me that she had run away with a black man as an explanation to where she had been.  So I understand cultural differences within story telling, especially wives tales told in order to make kids behave.

Could you imagine walking around England – the country that is now so politically correct, some counties are not allowed to display Christmas decorations for fear of upsetting someone and favouring Christianity – and shouting ‘foreigner’ to everyone that walks past with a different colour skin to yourself?  No.  You would be branded a racist and publicly humiliated probably on national TV.

So, in todays open and honest society where many western men order Thai wives from the internet, come over here and live with them, why is the word farang still so used and not banned like so many words in England?  [At this point I would like to make clear that I am not a racist and have no problem with anyone from other countries taking residency in the UK, before I get publicly humiliated on TV or something daft like that.]  I just want to make a point that in today’s world of open-mindedness and endless travel opportunities, it seems strange a county as diverse, different and involved in so many conflicts over its history has managed to keep its roots so very Thai – even down to the mannerisms of the locals; yet in contrast, England is not allowed to keep any of its traditions for fear of offending other religions, countries or individuals.  So although it annoys some, frustrates others and some times comes across as down right rude, I am glad that farang is unashamedly used towards us: it shows Thailand is still the same as it was before the wars that caused an influx of westerners all those years ago, and even now mostly remains unchanged even with tourism.  I wish that the same could be said for England.

Miss D

The Pressures of Modern Culture

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As I sat tutoring my Vice Director’s 14 year old daughter, I started to think about the pressures of modern culture, the differences between Thailand and England and the effects these pressures have on the people in that culture.

In England at the age of 25 I felt the pressure to be in a relationship, get married and think about a career. I guess it is about growing up but why in a world in which we have fought for equality and equal rights do we still find ourselves dealing with the same pressures our ancestors felt? Why is it not ok to enjoy being by yourself and embrace it? All my friends in England are in relationships or desperate to be in one. Some to the point where I am not sure they really know who they are anymore. They have become broken, pathetic display pieces for womanhood and so far away from those women in the 60’s that burnt their bras for us. These women would be unrecognisable to modern society, if indeed we had advanced beyond this animalistic need for companionship and constant reaffirming of self-worth.

Miss J and I have discussed these pressures and have come to realise that now, in Thailand in a different culture there is no pressure to be in a relationship although you do appear to get the worried look from people when you tell them that you are travelling alone. In Thai culture it appears that a women would stay with her family – for some even share the bed with their parents – until the day that they get married and leave the home. So although the pressure is off to get married they have the support and constant assurance of their families they are never alone. Families I have met in Thailand want to take care of me, they want to invite me to be part of their family, be that live with them, eat with them or worship with them. This to me is strange, but in their culture it is strange that I have left my family and decided to travel alone. I don’t mind being accepted into a family at all, it is nice to feel welcomed into a new culture. I draw the line at being married off to sons but at the moment this has not happened although I have known it happen to many western women.

It was the pressure inflicted on society that made me leave behind the life I had and delve into this unknown society. Turns out from the outside at least that this culture is very similar – perhaps all cultures are – but at least I am content now with seeing the world and these different cultures, and although driven by a sexual urge sometimes I am not desperately seeking a mate to distract me from the life I want to lead.

Miss D

Swinging, Sex Clubs and an Undercover World

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After a drunken game of “I have never,” Miss J and Miss L found out about my sordier past.  They insisted that I write a blog about it to uncover the mysteries and lay out the truth of this undercover world.  This is a part of my life that I am neither ashamed of nor proud of, it is what it is and is a part of my past.  It doesn’t come up in conversations very often at all but when it does I am never really sure how to address the topic, so generally I choose to stay quiet and say nothing, rather than risking being exposed to all the awkward questions that inevitably follow.  I dont blame the interviewers, they are merely curious, but I would say that those with that many questions should just take the plunge and try it. Before I go into too much detail let me state for the record that I am not a lesbian nor am I even bi sexual, bi curious or any other term that can be coined together.  I am merely a girl who is not afraid to try new things in any and all avenues of life.  My mission before I die is to be able to say, “Yes, i have done everything“.  I am not a convert and in no way think that every relationship should be this open.  In fact this relationship didn’t last but I have done it, I enjoyed it and I don’t hold it against anyone who does it long term.  For me it was about trying something new with a person I loved and would have done anything for. The relationship ended for a number of reasons and this was just part of our history, not our main purpose of existing.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some people that do it for different reasons and some of them wouldn’t be for me but everyone has their own set of morals and values.  I would also like to make it clear that I was not made to do it, I did love my boyfriend and we had a great relationship at the time, it was something we decided to do together. I had read up on some things and talked to a few people online about what to expect and the main thing they said was to set up your rules, these can be anything at all but ours, we decided was no kissing.  Very pretty women I hear you say, well you would be right.  What else am I to go on?  I didnt tell any of my friends.  I didn’t want to have to justify my actions without first knowing how I was going to feel or even what to expect really.  I dont think I told them for months as I just didnt know what to say or how they would react. 

The first time I met with another couple was when we were on holiday.  It seemed like a good idea to do it far away from home so there was no chance of seeing anyone we knew.  My boyfriend had found them online and had talked to them on the phone so they were not complete weirdos.  I know what you must be thinking, meeting people online?  We were old enough to make the decision and were sensible, we had a different phone to call people from and never used our real names or job titles so that it couldnt be traced back to us.  We met them in a pub for a few drinks to break the ice, I also needed a large dose of dutch courage.  We then went straight to a bed and breakfast.  One thing led to another and…well, I am sure you can guess the rest (this is not a porno).  They left shortly after and I was left with a strange feeling, a feeling that is hard to describe, I guess excitement mixed with relief.  Not relief that it was over, more relief that it wasnt a disaster. 

We went on to experiement with other couples even met a couple from my home town, although I was constantly worried they would know me or I would know them.  We met a couple in a near by village that were lovely although a bit strange.  She mentioned that “he made her do it 3 or 4 times a week“.  This to me set off alarm bells as for us it was something we did every couple of months, it wasn’t essential to our relationship and I don’t think it should be, but each to there own I guess. One thing the couple did bring to our attention were sex clubs, they said they attended one regularly.  We looked into it and it seemed like a good night out that we could both enjoy together.  After research we realised that many clubs made you take all your clothes off and walk around in a towel, if that!  I didnt want to go naked and liked the idea of a club that was a club first with sex next.  We ended up at a club called La Chambre which is well known for being in many porn films. Although it was two hours from us we took the plunge and went on a saturday evening, couples night. 

The club is well hidden and there is not much to display that it is even there when you are stood outside it.  It is members only and the membership along with the entrance fee makes it a very expensive night. At first glance, it looks like any other club, there is a DJ, dancefloor and bar.  It is not until you look closer that you realise that the couple you thought were cuddling in the corner are actually going at it like rabbits and most people around are wearing very little or no clothing.  

 
We are taken on a tour and told what is what and where is where.  The lockers are the first point of call, as most people wear underwear there is not much space to store valuables.  Next is the sauna, jacuzzi and shower rooms.  The jacuzzi has a ridiculous amount of chlorine in to kill any thing that may ejaculate into the water.  Next are the play rooms.  Great for voyerism, and getting kinky with anyone you fancy.  Anything goes here if you are open to it but no means no and nobody ever asks you more than once, if you are not comfortable then all you need to do is say.  The beds are wipe clean and there are plenty of tissues and condoms to keep everything clean.  It was daunting at first, all the rooms full with people thrusting, moaning and generally enjoying themselves but after you get used to it it is quite liberating.  We then move on to the dungeon, down there anything really does go.  There are whipping stations, sex swings, bondage straps, spiders webs to tangle yourself in, right up to touch up boxes which are like telephone boxes with strategically placed holes for anyone to grope you.  The rest of the evening was ours to do as we pleased, for me it was all about taking it all in on the first night, it is so different to anything I have ever experienced.  Everyone was so friendly, understanding and some people I even got on with.  Of course there are the strange old couple as with every club but as it was couples night there were no seedy single men.  Single ladies are allowed to come whenever they want to as they dont come often.  Leaving the club I felt like I had been a bit naughty, tried something new and we didnt even have sex with anyone else.  It was the thrill of doing something that was taboo and that no one expected that turned me on.  There is something about the feeling of sitting in Macdonalds at 3am looking around at the people thinking, you have no idea how filthy I really am and what I have been doing this evening.  Gave me a nice smug feeling to know that nobody would even guess. 

I personally think it is the best place a couple can go who want to do something different with their saturday night.  You dont have to have sex with anyone else and what is better than getting all flustered in a club and actually having sex rather than getting that awkward taxi ride home where the taxi driver is obviously getting an eyeful and enjoying it when all you want to do is fuck like there is no tomorrow.  At the end of the day, we are all human and we all have the same urges.  It is not the lifestyle that everyone would want, it is certainly not the lifestyle that I would want but I have tried it and can say so with conviction. What is your excuse?

Miss D

The Monster Within..

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The Monster Within..

Once in a while, something happens to me. Something unpleasant, unexplainable and without warning.

I turn into a monster.

It can happen mid-way through the best night of my life, during a new experience or while I’m at an old haunt.  It cannot be predicted.

I call this Psycho Syndrome.

The only consistency is that it happens when I’m drunk, which I like to think makes it very very slightly more acceptable.

I like to tell myself, also, that this happens to us all.  You know, the nights where you unjustifiably go completely off the rails with hatred for someone or something.  I’ve been known to completely trash my room in order to find an old phone number a friend had hidden from me, for use only in emergencies on these nights.  You know, the nights you recall with horror in the morning as you see 48 dialled calls to your ex boyfriend and cruel messages written in anger.  God only knows what you’ve left on the answer phone..

What I hate the most is my inability to predict when these nights where I will turn into the monster will happen.  It’s like occasionally, the clock strikes 2.30am, and I go insane.  I literally turn into a childish, nonsensical, attention seeking, hysterical and just overreacting idiotic girl.

Often, I will look for reasons why in the morning.  I used to try to explain it away somehow, but I’ve since realized that this is futile.  Most of the time, there is no warning.  It can happen regardless of whether I’ve pulled or not.  Regardless of whether I wanted to or not.  Regardless of whether I’m having a good time or not.

Please don’t misunderstand this.  This is not all the time.  This is not even the majority of the times I go out.  This is only on an odd occasion.

Sometimes, I’m so excited by a night out, maybe it’s been a long time coming, or I particularly enjoy the group of people I’m going with, or the place we’re going to.  But that can’t prevent it.  And sometimes I’m not looking forward to the evening at all, I’m going because I feel I have to.  But that,too, will not be a catharsis for me to go off the rails.

I become utterly unreasonable.  Looking for an argument, and I am not what one would describe as lairy.  I wake up the next morning and there is no explanation to my actions or spitefulness.   I ruin MY night and those of other people when I turn into this creature.

When one thinks back to their last night of uni, it’s usually fondly.  One remembers the good times with close friends, combined with the celebration of leaving and the urgency of knowing it might never happen again.  The last night with best friends in your common city.  For me, however, I try not to remember my last night.  I try to focus on the night before, or the one before that, pretending that they were the big nights where it all ended . My last night at uni was one of these where my inner monster made an appearance.  I decided I hated everyone and everything.  I saw a guy my friend had been kissing with another girl, told him he was a dick and then told her. I’m not sure why, why would I even care?  Nothing was going on with them, so telling just knocked her confidence a bit. What a bitch.  I stormed off on another friend telling her something stupid.  I ended up sat on a bench outside the SU, crying my eyes out over absolutely nothing – I don’t think I even knew what at the time – shaking with anger and texting the world telling them I hated my university, everything about it and everyone there.

Firstly, I was leaving so surely, if I hated it so much, I should have been glad?  Why wait until my last night there to cry about how much I HATED it?  That doesn’t make sense.  Secondly, I did not hate everyone there at all.  I had a fantastic time at university and knew I’d made some of the best friends I’d ever make.  I loved uni, and I always loved the nights out at uni.

There have been a few nights where it’s seemed like its man related, but when I consider all the nights like this, maybe the men have just been a coincidence.

I was working in another part of Asia, where I had a good group of expat friends, one of which things had got a bit complicated with. Two nights out in a row I went psycho, storming out of bars and clubs in new areas, streaming with tears and getting into taxis without telling a soul.  Nobody knew where I’d gone, but I’d just ignore my phone calls, leaving them to worry because I’d suddenly turned into the monster with no warning.  Friends put my emotional behavior on these nights down to the complications with the boy, and I accepted the that probably had something to do with it.  But he’d done nothing wrong, and I wasn’t in love at all – maybe we’re too quick to explain away our over the top and uncontrolled behavior by a man messing with our head?  I remember thinking at the time I was declining worried calls from my friends, that they deserved to be worried about me, they deserved not to know I had left.  Why I thought this, I cannot explain.

So, the other weekend, the same thing happened.  I was having a great night, and I’d had a great day.  I was in a fantastic mood, I’d made new friends and I’d got a tan.  I’d pulled, and he was coming home with me until that terrible person inside me surfaced unexpectedly.  This ended up in a pretty harsh argument with him, I remember telling him he was a twat, and when he questioned me as to why, I had no explanation: he just was.  I was slightly sober enough to force myself over it, and the problem was gone. ..For about thirty minutes.  After that, it was back and with a vengeance.  I told him he was NOT coming home with me, no matter what. Although I did still want him to.  I don’t know what I was thinking?

In the end, I ended up making him as angry with me and I unreasonably was with him.  And so, he did not come home with me.  Which honestly was probably a good thing, but as a new friend, I have probably come across as an absolute psycho.  Not a fun new expat living nearby.  Nope, a psycho he should avoid and never invite out.  I’m currently struggling to find a way to rectify this, and just blindly hoping that he can’t remember…..

What I don’t understand is WHY this happens?  WHY do I do it?  When I’m running out of bars and declining calls, I’m doing so consciously.  Why do I think this is a good idea? Why do I purposely ruin my night?  What is it that makes me act so damn pathetically???  Do I need psychological help?

Miss L