Challenge: Bangkok Podcast and Not Forgetting Stuff

So, the lovely guys at Bangkok Podcast asked me to come on the show and talk about my experiences as a relative newbie here in Thailand, and after I’d asked them what they were smoking (they said nothing) and determined they were serious (clearly they were lying when they said they were smoking nothing), I agreed to do it.

And then I panicked.

I started making a list of things I wanted to talk about so I wouldn’t forget in the heat of the moment. Very Important Points! Things that I needed the world to hear! I have opinions! Lots of them!

And of course I forgot the list at home when I went to record the show.

This was the first time I’d had a microphone in my face (I was at their Halloween show eating bugs, but I was one of many) and I was really nervous.  My sister and brother-in-law are visiting and my sister reminded me not to say um all the time, so all I could think was, ‘Don’t say um, don’t say um, don’t say um’, which meant that all other Very Important Points immediately vacated my head.

My sister and me in Bangkok in 2004. We look WAY different now.

When Tony asked me what was hard for me when I first came to Thailand, I went, “Uhhhhh….”

Because there weren’t a billion things that were hard for me? For the love of god.

He helpfully offered up cockroaches, and I latched onto that and talked about gross cockroaches and bugs and appendicitis and stuff (truly, the appendicitis sucked, but the hospital stay was kind of awesome).

Cockroaches are gross.

BUT what I REALLY wanted to say—and it was on my LIST AT HOME—was that the hardest thing for me when I first got here was loneliness. It’s still my biggest challenge, to be honest. I think this is true for a lot of women who move here by themselves, or even women who have moved here with spouses.

At least I hope I’m not the only one who’s experienced this. Tell me I’m not the only one who’s experienced this!

I don’t mind spending time alone. I don’t even mind spending a lot of time alone. I have the internets in my apartment, I have all episodes of 30 Rock, I have potato chips, I have Scrabble for my Kindle, and I also just successfully downloaded 866 books to read (not a typo, people!).

It’s just…living abroad by yourself can be kind of lonely sometimes. I’m not sure why it’s lonelier than living at home. I guess because I don’t have the same base of friends (although I do have awesome friends here), and I don’t have the same comforts of home when I get grumpy. In Bangkok, it takes a lot of effort to meet friends who live outside of my neighborhood because I don’t have my own transportation and traffic effing sucks in BKK at all times of the day.

I’m really worried about sounding pathetic for talking about this, so I want you all to know that I have a happy life here, for the most part, and I do stuff and know people and all that. If you do feel sorry for me, though, I’m sure I would feel much better if you sent me large sums of cash. Just saying!

But I’m also hoping that maybe an expat woman who’s feeling kind of lonely in Bangkok (or anywhere, for that matter) and happens upon this post will feel better that she’s not alone out there. It can be lonely. I get it. It sucks. Email me and we’ll commiserate.

I also feel better that I can say this since I forgot to say it on the podcast. Stupid brain.

Here is the list of things I wanted to talk about (with some lame notes so you can understand what I meant):

WTF?

  • Taxis (upcoming post on this)
  • Sewage (can’t flush toilet paper)
  • Noise (soooo noisy in BKK!)
  • Laughter (stop laughing at me, Thai people!)
  • Saving face (exhausting sometimes)
  • How some things are always more difficult in another country (phone, internet, etc.)

Awesome

  • Pampering (hair, massage, etc.)
  • Fun
  • Food—street food
  • Street vendors in general
  • The mix of new and old
  • You can get anything you want
  • People

Difficult

  • Language
  • Making friends (since I’m an introvert)
  • Knowing the city
  • Dating

Here is the list of things I actually talked about:

  • Cockroaches
  • Ants
  • Potato chips
  • Heat
  • How before I came here, I thought Bangkok was “…not backwards…but…what’s the word? How do I describe it? Like, not technologically advanced? But I was wrong.” SIGH.
  • Shopping
  • Prostitution (WHAT?)
  • Dating
  • Thai men vs. Japanese men
  • Va-jay-jay tightening serum
  • Pink nipple cream
  • Missouri
  • Squat toilets
  • GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT ELSE

I mean, it IS pretty interesting to talk about...

Final Score

Bangkok Podcast: 1    Megan: 0

They kicked my ass. I was so nervous I felt kind of sick to my stomach, but it was also so much fun! Greg and Tony are two of the nicest guys you will ever meet in your life and are super easy to talk to. And hopefully Greg will edit things so I don’t sound like a bumbling idiot. Yikes.

Okay, and by the way–ladies in Thailand and especially Bangkok: There’s a website out there called Chicky Net that’s kind of like Facebook just for women in Thailand. It’s a great resource and is used extensively by women in other cities throughout Thailand, but we here in Bangkok kind of neglect it. I’m guilty of it, too. Berthe, the woman who runs the site, said she’s tried various ways to get women involved in Chicky Net in Bangkok, but we’re not taking the bait! So, hey, Bangkok ladies, let’s be friends and do stuff in real life and all that jazz. I’m on there as Megan K, so find me!

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49 Comments

Filed under Living Abroad, Special Challenge, Thailand

49 responses to “Challenge: Bangkok Podcast and Not Forgetting Stuff

  1. Pingback: Challenge: Bangkok Podcast and Not Forgetting Stuff

  2. Ummmmm…. I know what you mean about the loneliness but as an introvert I’m enjoying it. In the west there is a big push to be around people, groups of people, herds of people, people everywhere. And I’m just not that type of people.

    Anyway, I’m way behind on listening to the interviews but yours is on my list because I just HAVE to hear your thoughts on Thai men vs. Japanese men (hmmmmmm?)

    Besides, it’s sure to be good. We all expect that of you (no pressure, right?)

    • I’m an introvert, too, but it sometimes still gets to me more here. I think it’s a matter of choice–like, if I’m alone because I want to be, fine. If I’m alone because it’s too much of a pain to see/meet people…that’s something else!

      Oh yeah, no pressure about the interview! Hahaha (nervous, slightly hysterical laughter)!

  3. jayjcee

    hehe, well I haven’t heard the podcast yet, but at least your writing is still lucid. And humorous – gotta keep that sense of humour!

    As an expat living in India, there are a lot of similarities. I too find it incredibly hard to make friends with the locals. Sure someone can speak to me while I’m buying veggies from the street cart, but then I find out they are selling Avon. The neighbour is super friendly, but she, and her family, have a massive desire to come to Canada. And need a place to stay.

    It gets exhausting to be asked to have my photo taken everytime I go somewhere – even in Delhi for craps sake. The other weekend I went to a relatively touristy site, and honestly over the period of 3 hours, I must have posed for 8 photo ops. I’m just an average woman in sunglasses and ball cap, and a very strained smile. I just want to do my own thing and blend in. Too much to ask huh?

    The staring is what gets to me the most though. It’s what contributes to my loneliness here the most. I like spending time on my own, but here I can’t go for walks and explore off the beaten path like I can at home. Even going to the local park to sit on the bench and read a book turns into a stare- fest and awkwardness.

    But, I’m still very happy I’m here and living the lifestyle versus just visiting. At least the neighbourhood kids yell “hello auntie” now and wave like crazy.

    So next time you feel a bit lonely, just think about all of us cyberfriends scattered around various countries. Reading and laughing along with you

    julie

    • Wow, I had no idea that even with all the tourists in Delhi that it would be like that! I don’t get stared at too much here, but I did quite a bit when I was in the southern part of Thailand and in smaller cities. It’s the laughter that really gets me here, to be honest–like, WHY are you laughing at my attempts to talk to you? Please stop!

      When you said that it’s hard to get off the beaten path and things like that, I thought about it–and I think it’s true here, too. It’s so hard to get around and do things that I feel lonelier…

      Honestly, the internet has been a lifesaver and I really am thankful for all my cyberfriends! :)

    • I feel for ya, Julie! I lived in Mumbai so know all about the ole stare down! If I were you, I’d give a fake Canadian address to the neighbors, or else you might have trouble coming! I actually did not enjoy being called “auntie” – made me feel old! Lol!

      • I lived in Calcutta for 3 years, from 2007 until last July. I found the “auntie” thing old fashioned, but sweet. I much prefer it to “Madam”! But Calcutta had many other things about it which required a great deal of tolerance, which may explain why a relatively minor thing like “auntie” didn’t bother me. :)

    • I hear you about the photos. My young son is very fair with lovely strawberry blonde hair and big brown eyes, quite a novelty in Asia! Many times, especially at the public park, I would have to ask someone to please not photograph him. They would do it without asking!

      Don’t get me wrong, I loved our time in India, or as my husband would say, I didn’t know how miserable I was! ;) We did make lots of friends, mostly Indian as the international community was quite small. Many of my close friends were other Moms from my son’s school.

  4. Hi Megan – I was wondering where you were when I didn’t receive a blog posting for a while. I just listened to your interview and it was very entertaining. Thanks for the latest edition.

  5. middleagedmuaythai

    Hi Megan, I listened to the interview and have to say that you did you very well. It was nice hear your voice and you didn’t seem nervous at all.

  6. Hi Megan,

    I hear you on the loneliness! In particular about how traffic jams make it a lot harder to socialize. I had two great friends who lived in my neighborhood before, so it was sooo much easier to get together spontaneously, and I felt much less lonely in Bangkok then. Once they both left, one for Switzerland and one for Chile, things got a lot lonelier. coz it’s just hard to get around Bangkok, especially these days now that the Skytrain is like Tokyo even at 2pm on Tuesday! That’s the other thing too…people generally come to Bangkok for a few years and then leave, so you make good close friends but then they leave and you have to start all over again!

    Jayjcee, I hear you on the ulterior motives. I found that really exhausting too in Thailand…you feel happy that people talk to you, but then you feel a bit crushed when it turns out that they want to sell you something, or come to Canada, or just use you as a fashion accessory to show their other Thai friends how “international” they are.

    I always enjoy reading your blog, and I’ve very curious about what you think about Thai men vs. Japanese men, so I’m going to go download your podcast! :-)

    • Yeah, it’s hard, right? I have great friends in my neighborhood (the guys I moved here with, actually), but there’s only so much I can bother them. It’s hard–and I am one of those women who like hanging out with women, and it’s hard to get together with my female friends. It’s rough.

      I haven’t had bad experiences with Thai people having ulterior motives yet, to be honest. That’s not to say they’re not out there, but I haven’t met them yet. But I also think that happens everywhere–I know plenty of people back who wanted international friends just so they could feel “international”…

      Oh god, I’m so nervous about everybody listening to the podcast!

  7. Hi, Megan! I’m another expat in Bangkok, newly subscribed to your blog. (Okay, Bangna, actually, so we have a car.) Have you tried the women’s clubs? I found that staying involved helps sometimes with the loneliness problem. Some of them are very active!

    I hear you about the giggling. I tend to smile and ignore it when possible.

    The roaches are nasty, and I can’t believe they are offered as street food at some stalls! (I saw this at the market at BTS On Nut opposite Tesco Lotus while I was waiting for a taxi.) EWW!

    • Hey there! Which women’s clubs are you talking about? I do need to get more involved in volunteering and things like that because I’m going to have a lot of free time coming up.

      Yeah, the bugs kind of gross me out. My brother-in-law is here and says he wants to try some! Ack!

      • I’m a member of American Women’s Club (AWC). There’s also International Women’s Club (IWC), an Australia/New Zealand club, British Women’s Group (BWG), Samutprakarn International Ladies Club (SILC). I’m sure all of them are looking for volunteers.

        AWC is looking for help in a few key areas on their Executive Board, and their Scholarship Committee and Community Projects groups are both looking for new ideas and new people.

        Hope this helps! :)

        Hope your brother-in-law doesn’t get sick on the bugs! I think I might vomit just from watching!

  8. Jess

    For what it’s worth, I have none of the challenges you face in terms of being in a different country/language issues/lack of transportation, and I feel lonely a lot, too. I think it is hard to keep starting over again, as you and I have done, in different places. Not only because interacting with new people can be exhausting, but also because you sometimes wonder if you’ll get anything from putting in all that work! Not that it should be an equation of input = output, but it’s hard sometimes to know in a gut sense who to give your time to. Time is precious, experience is precious.

    I loved the podcast! You sounded terrific, and it was super awesome to hear your voice.

    • Aw, thanks, Jess! :)

      Yeah, you’re right–I feel like I’m too old to spend time making friends with people who I don’t really want to be friends with. That doesn’t mean I’m old, it just means I know more what I want. And you’re right–the loneliness can happen anywhere; it’s starting new again and again and again, more than anything. But there are those people who can be put down anywhere and not be lonely, you know? Not me!

  9. I enjoyed your performance [or, more properly, “interview”] on the podcast. You came across very favorably…well-spoken and enthusiastic. And, I enjoyed hearing about some of your insights and other observations that I hadn’t read about (yet).

    I really must look into your previous blog posts.

  10. I hear ya, fellow introvert! You should have seen me before my first “travelers meet up” in Sydney…I was so nervous to go inside and mingle with people I didn’t know. Even after the first one I was always nervous about going and making small talk.

    Even with leaving your list at home, it sounds like you came up with some *entertaining* things to talk about from your blog post series ;-)

    • Aye-aye-aye, I hate small talk! I can be good at it when I want to be, but it’s so draining! That’s how I know I’ll be friends with somebody–it’s not an effort to chat with them.

      Yeah, I also ended up talking about anal bleaching (SAY WHAT?) and after I got home, I was like–did I just talk about anal bleaching? Um?

  11. Well, if misery loves company, I should tell you that now that my jet lag and accompanying sickness is subsiding, I am lonely as hell! Still crazy busy, but lonely for meaningful friendly companisionship of a non-sexual nature. I somehow did not realize this until this last trip home, when I had the f-ing time of my whole entire freaking life!!! So, what to do now…? This was my lame attempt to address my newfound unhappiness: http://www.therobertsonsofmumbai.com/2011/03/post-travel-reassessment-disorder-ptrd.html

  12. I do think it’s harder for foreign women to find friends while abroad — especially women of a certain age and I’m not talking OLD, I’m talking “that age that most everyone else you know back home has settled down and has a home and is doing all these big bad adult things and you’re still out there trying to figure out where-to-next and what-the-heck-you-want-to-do-with your life and blah, blah, blah.”
    Anyway, that AGE.
    I had it pretty easy when I lived in Japan because I was living in a city with a huge international community and lots of women my age (or thereabouts) who were working there and/or married and living there.
    But now I’m stuck in this suburb in China (which I honestly do like and all), but I haven’t really met anyone that I’ve clicked with yet. I have a huge group of colleagues — but I’m the only weirdo woman in my mid-thirties. Most of the other women here are really young and just doing the “before their real life sets in thing.” Unfortunately, due to the big age difference (and the fact that I’m a loser and have no desire to sit in smoky bars), I just haven’t been able to connect to these women.
    Yet there are men of all ages here (apparently you can be a man and not know what you want to do with the rest of your life and work some dead-end job in China and it’s okay). But where are all the itinerant ladies of a certain age? Where?
    I’m sure I’ll make friends… eventually. Until then, it’s comforting to know there are other lonely expat ladies out there… and I’m not just some total freak. (I’m not, right?! RIGHT?)

    • Geez, if you’re a freak, I’m a freak, and I’m not prepared to go there yet. I feel like we have too much in common to call you a freak, and I don’t consider myself one, so…

      I think after I reached a certain age, I also became more discerning in who I became friends with. I don’t really want to waste my time with just anybody now–if I don’t feel a connection, it’s not really worth my time to pursue the friendship. I hope that doesn’t sound snobbish, because I don’t mean it to be. It’s just I know who I am more. When I was 25 and in Japan, it wasn’t as big of a deal.

      Also, the man-thing: Yeah, I think that’s true everywhere in Asia, frankly, don’t you? Men can come and–EXCUSE ME–get some whenever they want. Women–not so much!

      • It seems sometimes that one of the differences between (some) men and women is that men delude themselves into thinking there are no consequences. Truth is, there are consequences for everyone, but some men don’t seem to give a damn!

        I suppose at 39 I might be coming to that “critical age” where I’m more discerning, but I’m also one of those extroverts who puts it all out there. Life is short, so I try to not worry too much, but I try to also not step on toes!

        Age is a matter of mind. I’ve found women I can be friends with who are 35, and I’ve found some in their 50s too. Aren’t most of us looking for the same thing, namely, someone who shows a genuine interest in who we are and can relate to our concerns? That can potentially be found with anyone who shares our thinking.

        • You’re definitely right about the age thing. I don’t mean I can’t be friends with people of any age, but I’m more concerned with *who* my friends are. If I connect with somebody who’s much younger or much older or who has a different life than me, I don’t care–as long as I connect with them. I think a few years ago I was more concerned with people liking me more than if I liked them (and good lord, of course I’m still concerned with people liking me–just in a different way!).

  13. Pefectly worded post. I was just telling my husband tonight (like 1 hour ago) that I was homesick but I wasn’t sure why. You put what I was feeling right into words or at least better than I could. I’m not sad, I have things, even with people sitting right next to you I think you can feel lonely. At the end of reading your post I said Amen! So, Amen and I will check out Chicky Net soon. BTW, what books did you download on your kindle? I have one too… ~Mary (Melanie’s friend, we’ve met once at Lumpini Park)

    • Thanks, Mary (and I remember you, of course!). Yeah, I’m definitely not sad, and there are so many things to do and see and everything. But YES, you can so get lonely even with people sitting right next to you.

      We’ll have to get together soon and I can let you go through the books and get what you want–I’d love to share them!

  14. That cockroach would freak anyone out. It has 12 legs!

  15. Loved hearing your voice on BKK podcast and looking forward to seeing you here in CM (you’re still coming right?).

    How can you feel lonely with all your internet friends? :P Actually, sounds a bit like culture shock or one of them stages of grief. Same thing tho’ me thinks.

    It gets better, I promise. Well, you know. Big hug, lc

    • Thanks, Lani! Look forward to seeing you, too. I’m coming within the next week or two with or without my sis–we haven’t decided what we’re doing yet.

      Yeesh, you’re right about the stages of grief, and you know it!

  16. Love your interview with the Bangkok Podcast folks. It actually lightens up my morning! I am a Thai and I still can’t get used to the squat toilet or the cockroaches but now I am living in Singapore, I really miss that bit of dirtiness since everything is so ——‘ clean here! By the way, there are days you’d like to be healthy and a vegetarian, you can just order them a dish follow by ‘mang sa virat,’ that’s a word for vegetarian (eggs and dairy type of vegetarian)

    Rock on, Megan!

    • Aw, thanks, Sabina! :)

      I actually sometimes prefer a squat toilet to a regular ol’ dirty toilet now, to be honest. Cockroaches, though–I’ve been too traumatized! Thanks for the tip about ‘mang sa virat’; I haven’t heard that before. I’ll have to try it out!

  17. I loved listening to the podcast!

    I have also been feeling pangs of loneliness lately. The fact that I am an introvert who is terrified of meeting new people and the fact that I am not working while in living in Thailand helps to increase the loneliness.

    Luckily, the lonely feeling never lasts too long. I am also lucky in that I have been able to overcome my fear and make some really great friends, (like you) here in Bangkok, friends who help keep the loneliness away.

    • Aw, thanks, and yeah, you’re absolutely right, Mel. The loneliness doesn’t last long, and it’s so awesome to have met some great friends (like you) in BKK. That’s the only way to keep the loneliness away. And now that I’m not working, either, you’re going to be so sick of me… :)

      • I don’t think I’ll get sick of you! I am excited about you and I becoming “ladies who lunch”; eating finger sandwiches and drinking tea with our pinky finger pointing proudly to the sky :)

  18. Your podcast session was great.

    Im feeling the isolation as well, being that im here to work on non thai stuff and I met a couple of other people, but keeping up with everyone feels a whole lot like… well.. effort :D

    Even when i was back in Melbourne, I was living alone and I like to go out once every couple of weeks or so and not have to keep trying all the damn time to put myself out there. By and large, im a lazy, lazy man.

    So i kinda feel your pain, even though im a male.

    Fun Fact: I know the other guest, Patricia. Im helping to teach her swing dancing. The more you know!

    -Rick

    • Aw, thanks. It was fun.

      Well, if you ever want to meet up, we can go be lazy together. I’m really good at it!

      That’s funny about Patricia…

      • sure! but that involves leaving the cave for something other than going to the restaurant downstairs :)

        I dont think people understand how much of an art Being Lazy really is.

        -Rick

  19. Dani

    There is Scrabble for the Kindle?! I didn’t know that!
    I want that!

  20. Sharin

    Hi there,
    I recently joined Chickynet, and that is how I stumbled upon your blog, Megan. I have been laughing at the posts for the last couple days. I am moving to BKK in July with my husband. I have also listened to Tony’s podcast and watched some of his pretty decent videos. They seem very knowledgeable and so do you! I hope some time we can connect when I move there. You can find me on ChickyNet.

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