There’s a very ancient saying, and a true and honest thought, that if you become a teacher by your pupils you’ll be taught. As a teacher I’ve been learning – you’ll forgive me if I boast – but I’ve now become an expert in the subject I like most: getting to know you.”
from “The King and I” by Rodgers and Hammerstein
Perusing my feedback log, I noticed that there are a lot of new faces (or footprints!) on my blog. In fact, no fewer than ten new subscribers have signed up in the past eight days and 23 since the start of the year, bringing the total to just about 300. Yikes! Where did you all come from?
One of the things that’s always a challenge for me when I start following someone’s blog is understanding who they are. Much like entering the cinema halfway through a movie, joining a blog that is already in progress leaves a lot of questions unanswered. “Who is that person?” “What vacation is he talking about?” “What horrible illness happened two years ago?”
Matt suggested a few months ago that going back and browsing through earlier entries is a good way to round out your knowledge about a blogger. That’s a good idea but I’m afraid my back entries have a lot of chaff amongst the grain. To save you the trouble of having to winnow through my archives, I’ll give you a brief introduction of myself along with embedded links to interesting and relevant previous entries. That way you can do as much or little catching up as you wish to do.
Allow me to introduce myself…
My name is Chris. I’m an American citizen who was born in 1970 and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since October 2005 I have been a resident of Bangkok, Thailand (which I often refer to using its Thai name, Krungthep) where I live with my husband Tawn.
I started this blog a few months before moving here. Its initial (and continued) purpose was to provide my family and friends an easy way to keep tabs on what I’m up to and the experiences I have as an expatriate. A lot of what I write is about that experience.
Chris at the Elephant Kraal in Ayutthaya province.
I’ve written about my thoughts about possibly moving back. I’ve written about what it’s like to live in Thailand. I’ve been studying Thai since moving here and now read, write, speak and even sometimes understand the language. Living abroad has a lot of challenges. For example, learning to cross the street without getting killed! Other challenges have included making friends in a strange land and dealing with fellow countrymen whose views on being an American rubbed me the wrong way.
Living here has provided so many wonderful adventures. I’ve done a lot of bicycling to explore the city and surrounding areas, resulting in some interesting and unexpected misadventures. For more than a year, I volunteered as an English teacher once a week at a tiny country schoolhouse ninety minutes outside Krungthep. I discovered the schoolhouse on one of my bike rides, had a great time teaching there, and concluded the assignment when the director of the school retired. They even included me in their Teachers’ Day ceremonies, which was a great honor.
My students at Bangkhonthiinai School in Samut Songkhram province.
Along the way, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s reign (the longest reigning current monarch in the world, by the way!). We had a coup. My parents and some other family members came to visit. Tawn and I bought and remodeled a condo. And we hosted a lovely poolside Thanksgiving dinner.
Watching the royal barge procession to celebrate the King’s anniversary.
Of all the writing I’ve done about Thailand, though, the one that has received the most views was one I wrote about the debate over teenage castration, a practice common in young Thai men who feel that they are transsexuals. For some reason, there are a lot of people who Google “teenage castration” and it seems my entry is pretty high up in the results.
As I mentioned, I live with my husband Tawn. We were married last August in the United States although we’ve been together for more than ten years. The story about how we met is a sweet one, deserving of a movie screenplay. After we first met, Tawn lived and studied for his master’s degree in San Francisco. Now that I’ve been here in Thailand for more than four years, I’ve spent more time living here than Tawn spent living in the US!
Tawn and I a few days after meeting in January 2000.
When viewing those entries, you might notice that Tawn is a man and so am I. While I don’t feel the need to make a big fuss about it, it seems that my being gay is a matter of fact that comes up quite often. For example, when we wanted to get married in California but couldn’t because 52% of the voters thought we shouldn’t have that legal right.
But this blog isn’t all about love and marriage and Thailand and politics. The real undercurrent of this blog is food. I’m a foodie. Not only do I enjoy eating, I love to cook. I particularly enjoy trying foods I’ve never made before, just to see if I can. Bagels, French macarons, pasta, baking bread – I’ll try cooking or baking anything just to see if I can.
My friend Ryan and I buying bánh mì from a vendor in Saigon.
In addition to food, I love travel and enjoy meeting new people. I’ve had the chance to meet several other Xangans both in their hometowns and here in Thailand. Tawn and I have been fortunate (not having children makes it easier…) to be able to travel a lot. We had a fun trip to Tokyo last spring, a trip to Saigon a few years back with a dear school friend, a trip to Seoul the winter I arrived in Krungthep, and a honeymoon in New York City, just to name a few destinations.
So that’s me in a nutshell. There’s so much more I could write and so much more I’ve already written. But I’m glad we’ve had a chance to meet and I hope you’ll enjoy reading my blog.
Which brings me to one more thing… one of the things I most appreciate in a subscriber is interaction. We’re all busy, I get that. But when people subscribe and never, ever leave a comment, it makes me wonder what interests them about my blog. It’s a little freaky, in fact. And when people send a friend request but have never commented even once? Well, that’s not much of a start to friendship.
So don’t be shy, people. I’m not asking for a lot, but a bit of interaction and an occasional comment means a lot for me and I think it strengthens the sense of community here at Xanga.