Thailand Chronicles: Two Weeks In

Hello all 🙂

First, videos. June 11th:

June 12th:

June 14th:

June 17th:

 

I wish I could share all the adventures of the last two weeks with all of you, but there are so many it would take just about as much time as passed to recount them all. I can’t believe I’m already more than 2 weeks in — an eighth of my time in Thailand (that I know of) has already come and gone. Here are a few random observations about Thai culture and stories of my time thus far:

  • We’re all about the photo opps here. I was vaguely aware of this stereotype before, but I’m immersed in it now. We take lots of pictures. Every player takes a picture with the trophy; every team takes a picture shaking the hands of the important people; every person at every gathering takes a picture with the guest of honor, the hosts, and whoever else is around.
  • The driving in Bangkok is fantastic. I had also heard of this phenomenon before I came, and the city has yet to disappoint. There are lane lines, turn lanes, and stop lights just like normal here. However, to invoke Pirates of the Caribbean, they’re more “guidelines.” And even more exciting, motorcyclists are EVERYWHERE and drive like those possessed. They casually ride down the sidewalk, against traffic on the highway, and buzz between cars in droves whether traffic is stopped or moving smoothly. No pedestrian or unsuspecting car passenger opening their door is safe. It’s great. When you go to Bangkok, keep a sharp eye out when you’re crossing any road — or even simply anywhere near one.
  • English is a bit of a rarity here. Because Thailand was never colonized, they pride themselves on their own culture and language. However, unlike some of their neighboring countries who were forced to adopt English but now speak it at a much more uniform proficiency, Thai people find themselves disadvantaged in the global scene when they attempt to get jobs or educations in other countries and don’t have English in common. It’s also unfortunate because it makes communicating with the random passerby, security guard, shop owner, food vendor, and clerk much more difficult. However, in situations where I need to find someone to ask something, I usually only have to ask a few people before I find someone who can cobble together some comprehension and an understandable answer.
  • Thai people are some of the most generous people I’ve ever been privileged to know. Friends I’ve only just met drive me to the supermarket and insist on buying me food and wares for my apartment. I’ve had multiple people (and no, not creepers), during our first conversation, offer to take me to see the sites of Bangkok and even to travel with them farther to beaches or family’s homes far beyond Bangkok. Every time I visit the basketball association office, I leave either being fed or with food. Today I was not allowed to leave without two grocery bags full of food, two 12-packs of water bottles, and an association polo.
  • I’ve been amazed at the sheer size of Bangkok. Even in Chicago, the skyscrapers and largest buildings are in a relatively concentrated area. Here in Bangkok, you can travel for a half hour on any highway and pass huge buildings the entirety of your journey. The city spans miles and miles seemingly without end. It makes for a much more drawn-out and relaxed skyline — the impressive buildings continue for as far as the eye can see and beyond.
  • Rain here is a way of life during the rainy season. Though it hasn’t rained every day, the skies open without much warning, nor much reaction from those on the street. The food vendors and standard-issue security guard stations in front of most important buildings all have umbrellas. While some withdraw convenient small umbrellas or duck in cover, many people step out into the downpour without hesitation. The motorcycles continue to roar by, their riders either holding one hand in the place of a visor to keep at least enough of the rain out of their faces to keep their eyes open or magically garbed in a plastic poncho or rain suit. Cars drive a little bit more slowly to navigate the huge collections of standing water that plague smaller streets and can quickly reach depths of more than a foot while the rain continues to fall. But beyond occasional evidences, the rain could just as easily be erased from an otherwise identical street scene.

 

The one and only Thailand national senior team.
The one and only Thailand national senior team.

 

I am slated to work with my senior-level team (the adult-aged team I was contracted to head-coach) tomorrow afternoon. This will be my second meeting with them. I also am going to spend some more time working with the U18 team, a group of mostly 16-18 year olds that will also compete at the national level. I am excited for the chance to be on the court with them again. Your prayers would be appreciated as I ask for God’s wisdom in how best to serve and lead this group and how to assist the younger team’s coach as well.

Until next post,

-LS

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