Getting to Know Me

the-king-and-i-799367 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.

Best wishes,



0 thoughts on “Getting to Know Me

  1. What a wonderful summary of your life! I’m jealous of all your traveling. I’m not surprise at all that you’re getting a lot of subscriptions because you are a great blogger.

  2. Thank you for sharing with us so much about yourself. It’s really nice getting to know more about the person you read. I’ve always enjoyed reading your blogs.

  3. Hi Chris – I really enjoy reading your blog and always check it at least once a week, if not more.  (Btw, I can’t wait to try making those cinnamon rolls that you wrote about recently.)  I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment.     Thanks for writing and showing me “another part of the world” and the things you like / dislike.  I get a little education from you and its GREAT!  Say hi to Tawn for me!  Traci

  4. Wow what a great introduction and some great pics. Lol that baby elephant really took a shine to you Chris – love the expression on it’s face HaHa.2nd pic – What is that ? I get the feeling it’s some kind of ‘special’ place. A great pic of your students – for some reason, the uniforms remind me of ‘guides and scouts’ and what are they holding ? A great pic of you and Tawn – now if I’d seen that earlier I’d not have been wondering who he was for so long Lol. Next pic, that vendor looks like she got a real kick out of being included in your photo – a great pic. Now as for all the links – I’ll have to tackle those one by one so may take a while to get through them !!The Subscriber/Friends thing has me a bit puzzled too !Thanks for sharing all this Chris – one of – if not the best I’ve seen of your blogs so far.

  5. First time reader, but I’ll be back 🙂 A few of my friends’ll probably move back to Thailand in a few years, they were there for missions as a result of my friend’s father-in-law working w/ the women of the red light district in Bangkok and they’d return and do similar or maybe even same.

  6. Food…ah *drools* I’m starving at the moment. Traveling….oh I’m so jealous, but I’m fixing that soon. I mostly travel in the state of Texas because my job (yay I can say that now) requires it. I’m a free lance photographer and I get called all over to do portraits, weddings, and photograph jewelry and things of that nature. But I’d like to see the world outside of Texas (yes I know a Texan is saying there is more to the world then “God’s Country.” Nice read. I’ll be back for more. 🙂

  7. P’Chris, Help! You’re in a nutshell. How did you get into that big bloody nutshell? I’m living vicariously through your blogs so thank you for riding, writing, baking, traveling, making new friends, getting married, and most importantly teaching.when I saw the school’s name, I thought Bangkhonthiinai? then Bangkhonthiinii. haha. ok maybe that wasn’t so funny but it was kara OK to me. =]

  8. Great summary of your post few years…but I am wondering…when did that facial hair come about? I see it wasn’t present around 2000…I actually thought of this question the first time I saw that picture…

  9. Chris, this is a great post and a great idea. I think everyone who has been around for some time on Xanga should do a post like this; because many new readers miss out on a lot. I’ve only been back on Xanga since August, and so I’ve missed everything you’ve written before then. Once in a while, you link old entries, and I’ll go back and view them, but other than that I haven’t really gone looking back.Don’t be surprised if you see this page loading up a lot from me, I won’t be able to read all the posts you’ve linked at once, but I’ll be going back to them once in a while to view them.Oh, another question: I was looking at a map of the city; and noticed it was divided into districts. Which do you live in?@Roadlesstaken – I agree, I think this blog is a definite contender if there was a “best Xanga” award to give out.

  10. Aww, I want to go visit the elephants! That picture of you and the baby elephant is so cute. I rec’d this because you really are one of my very favorite Xangans and I think more people should get to know your blog 🙂

  11. Hi Chris!I have been reading your blog for years now, and really love it. It’s great to see a blog featuring a gay couple in a long term relationship. The fact that you and Tawn are so cute is another bonus! ( ha ha…) I suppose it is not too often you see a gay couple who is “out” in a blog.I love that your blog is so open and broad in its coverage — Bangkok (I love BKK), travel ( love travel – I have also read your reports on, food, domestic life. It seems that I get to see where you live, see what you eat, see who you are with, see your friends, see your family! It is also like I already know you better than some of my real life friends. I mean, I don’t think that I have even met the family of any of my friends!A bit about myself- I am orginally from Singapore, been living in Sydney for — just about forever! I have been with my partner for over 10 years, but not married. And I signed onto Xanga today just to make this comment! I have been following your blog through Google Reader, so commenting was a bit of a hassle….Anyway, thank you so much for your blog. Will certainly try to comment more often!

  12. Really nice entry :)I can’t speak for others, but I know that in the beginning, your honest encouragement to me was a big reason to keep me on Xanga. You were one of my first subscribers and remain to today one of the few regular commenters on my blog. I trust and look forward to your opinion on most of my entries, and it’s really nice to have this avenue to communicate with you. Thanks for writing, and for everything else.

  13. Well sawadee, man! I just came across this post on a recommendation and you hooked me when you wrote that you live in Bangkok. Would you mind if I message you once in a blue moon if I have questions about Thailand and its culture. I find that place fascinating!

  14. Thanks to everyone for sharing your comments. I want to clarify: I realize that if you follow this blog from outside Xanga, leaving a comment can be a chore. My intent wasn’t to scold people for not leaving comments but, rather, to encourage more interaction. Thanks again.@TheCheshireGrins –  @arenadi –  @Roadlesstaken –  Meg, Michael, and Alex – thank you for the very kind words. Truly, though, I think the three of you write much more interesting and substantive entries all the time. Whether it be Meg’s creative writing and wedding plans, Michael’s cooking and musing over the meaning of love, or Alex’s XangaSecrets series, you guys take the cake.@arenadi –  Krunthep is divided into different districts on different maps. We live in Wattana district, in the Klongton Nua sub-district. Most of the time, though, it is just known as “Thong Lo” – we live a block away from the main street of that name. There’s also a BTS Skytrain station there.@amygwen –  Hi Amy – I’ve always wondered what would happen to my blog if I moved back to the US. Perhaps there wouldn’t be nearly as much to write about. Certainly no elephants!@bejewel07 –  Ah-ha! That was my intention! =)@yang1815 –  Thank you, Andy. Your turn!@icapillas –  @silverlocket_88 – @MooncatBlue –  @discover_hienie – Thanks for your nice comments!@secade –  Thanks, Colin – I didn’t realize I had come aboard your blog so early. I really enjoy your writing and the opportunity to look at life through your eyes.@Chatamanda –  Thanks, Amanda. The baby elephant and her mother were friendly because I had been feeding them paper bags of peanuts. They were looking for more.The second picture is of a temple on the opposite side of the river from Krungthep. These pavilions are on the roof of an otherwise ordinary square concrete building. It has a nice view of a bend in the Chao Phraya River. I was there in April during the school holidays. There were dozens of young novice monks who were in what could best be described as Buddhist summer camp. In the lazy, hot afternoon they were playing around in the shade of the pavillions, pretending to be kung fu fighters – kicking and hitting each other. Clearly, they had missed the message of the morning religious lessons!As for the students, they are wearing their boy and girl scout uniforms. The program is mandatory here in the Kingdom and once a week everyone trots off to school in their uniforms.@Traci –  Hi Traci, how are you doing? Please try the cinnamon rolls and let me know how they turn out. Tawn says “hi” back!@CurryPuffy –  Hi Gary – I actually proposed to Tawn the idea of making heart-shaped macarons for V-day. He thought it was a bit too much…@NVPhotography –  Welcome, welcome! One of our favorite couples is Ron and Kari, husband-and-wife missionaries who live up in Chiang Mai. We met in language school when I first arrived here then they went off to Kenya for a while and are finally back.@brooklyn2028 –  Sheldon, you are one of the earliest people I subscribed to, along with Jason and Andy. And Matt, too, I think. It has been really fun getting to know you guys over the years and I hope we have the chance to meet in person eventually.@Ricardo98 –  Indeed I have. Unfortunately, not as extensively as I’d like but I’ll certainly be back. In fact, here’s an entry I wrote about a trip up to Buriram province.@ALovingAdversary –  Texas is such a large place that there’s plenty to see without ever leaving the state! But even if it’s God’s Country, “God’s Country Adjacent” is pretty nice, too – LOL!@mZdejavuZ –  All of the countries in southeast Asia have their own special charm. I’m glad you enjoyed Thailand and Vietnam. I’d really like to explore more of Vietnam as well as Cambodia and Laos.@piyapong –  So is it “Nong ‘Pong” which rhymes nicely or “Nong Piyapong”, which doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily? Actually, since the school was so far away, I think it is Bangkhontiinawn. Talok maak!@Wangium –  I’ll give you another entry to answer that question, Jason.@pojaya –  Nice to meet you! And who would have imagined you were there all along? See, these “coming out” entries help me meet all sorts of people who’ve been lurking in the shadows (of Google Reader)… ha ha. Do you guys make it to BKK often? If so, please let me know!

  15. Chris….I am not a newcomer but not an old timer either….sort of a middle of roader I guess!!! lolI haven’t been very faithful with my Xanga reading or blogging lately…having a new grandbaby in the house seems to upset the schedule just a bit!!! I too wish that more people would leave comments when they stop by…I see lots and lots of footprints on my blog but not many folks stay long enough to say anything. Oh life isn’t nearly as interesting as a lot of folks around these parts. You know that I love reading about your adventures in The Land of Smiles…I really do hope someday to convince Pat that we need to return to Thailand to continue the adventure we started over 30 year ago!!!! Ruth Ann

  16. I’m late to the party as usual. This was so nicely done! It was a good review and I think I’ve read many of these posts (though a the early ones I missed). Speaking of posts – I haven’t seen any food porn lately and with Lent starting tomorrow I know I’m going to have to live vicariously as far as Chocolate goes… (hint)

  17. Aw…now the song’s stuck in my head. :o) [in my terrible karaoke voice] “~~geting to kno~~~ow yo~~~U…” haha. I actually sang along while typing. Haha. Anyway, okay, now I have my  k-pop blaring in the background. Hehe.  Very cool to see you summarize your life thus far on xanga. I’m afraid to look back into my old entries. It’s terrifying that I’ve changed so much since my first entry. Well, I suppose I just grew up (I started writing in 2003 I think). I started writing either at the end of highschool or just before college. Anyway, it’s crazy how time flies by. Come to think of it, I don’t even remember when our paths crossed. Do you remember? Did I find you first or the other way around? I feel like we’ve spoken to each other through Yang’s xanga, but I don’t recall anymore. It’s not important anyway. The important thing is that you – all the way in Thailand – are a part of my life now. :o) Yay! Okay, seriously, need to get to the gym now. Haha.

  18. You write very well and your blog is like something out of PBS – especially your travel blogs. It’s been absolutely great finding you here on Xanga. I don’t have as many subscribers as you do. There’s a few new ones that comment regularly while others are content to read. I thought about doing a blog to my new subscribers not really to introduce myself but more asking them to tell me a bit about themselves… sort of like small chat at a cocktail party.

  19. I forgot how I came upon your page but I’ve enjoyed the few entries that I have read. BTW, I would love to eat a fresh bánh mì. I get it at the Asian grocery stores sometimes but it’d be great to taste it authentic and fresh.

  20. @LADYLILYTHAO – Well, there’s a lot of places to enjoy banh mi but I would swear that the bread tasted especially amazing when I ate it from that street vendor in Saigon!  =D@ElusiveWords – Thanks Matt.  Not the CBC, huh?  Shoot…  I like the cocktail party idea.  Actually, that would be a really good way to encourage more interaction and networking among your readers.@kenpcho – I’m sure we met through Andy’s blog but I don’t remember particularly when.  I do know that your photos caught my attention.@murisopsis – Hint taken.  Will see what I can do for you Val!

  21. thanks for the recap; i didn’t know all of that, although i had managed to infer some of it from your other blog posts. i love that expression on the bahn mi vendor’s face!

  22. Thanks for the summary! I know what you mean about having a huge subscriber base but they never comment! I used to be have nearly 400 subscribers during my tenure in Amsterdam and 350 of them never leave a comment! I used to thrive on reading people’s comments…

  23. This is a great post to have bookmarked. I have recommended your blog to friends many times and this will be the link I send them to get them “hooked.” Seeing that photo of your students made me really miss those entries. Do you miss the volunteering you did?

  24. aww! sometimes we just like to read and not read feedback for every single entry 😉 it’s good to interact though, i agree.. i’ve met so many friends on xanga (that i still remain friends with) back in the day when i used to write entries with real substance.i also noticed that while commenting on andy’s blog you called me leigh- i know it says that my name is ‘leigh’ on my xanga, but my name is actually jenny. that was a really nice introduction of yourself and a real friendly invitation to get people to speak up 🙂 nice re-meeting you!

  25. @iskrak –  Hi Jenny – Andy corrected me a few weeks ago. Yes, sometimes reading and commenting is a bit of work, especially when you have a million other things to do besides reading and commenting on Xanga! But the interaction is nice.@alextebow – Yes, the volunteering was some of the most fun I’ve had here in Thailand and Tawn and I would like to find something similar to start doing again. He’s talking about making some changes in his work schedule this Spring and I’m hoping that might create some more time for us to do a project like volunteering at one of the orphanages here.@piyapong –  There you go…@Fongster8 –  I remember how, looking back to my earlier entries, I was thrilled if an entry would get ten reads and one or two comments. The interaction makes the writing so much more enjoyable.@kunhuo42 –  She was tickled to death with us and after we ordered our first sandwiches, told us in English that she would be even happier if we ordered seconds. She was very sweet.

  26. Hi Chris and TawnI am puzzled how I am out of your circulation since my Yahoo account hijack losing all my data and info; for e.g. your blog. Very impressed with your summing up of blogging and your international life and travel.  Hopefully, with this reconnection, I will be able to continue “getting to know you” and Tawn.Qong Xi Fa Cai to you and Tawn meaning Wishing you a Prosperous Year of the Tiger!  We are having a long weekend holiday before back to work on Monday!Take care and hug to TawnSusan

  27. i have a feeling that last paragraph was directed at me =Pi really should think about doing a post like this too! of course, i’m perpetually lazy…happy cny!

  28. Love love love the pictures Chris, and of course the blog.  I am hundred percent behind you in your view about subscriptions and being friend on xanga, that has been my pet peeve for ever it seems. I wonder why people do that.

  29. @susanloo2002 – Hi Susan – did you go in and edit your Xanga account to reflect your new email address?  If so, you should be able to receive updates as normal.  Happy new year to you and the family, too.  You’ll be coming for another visit this year, I trust?never commented.  It would be very interesting to read a “getting to know you” post about you.  I’m curious about how you and Daniel met.@ZSA_MD – Glad you liked them, Zakiah.  Truly, your crusading on the issue of Xanga subscribers and friends has encouraged me to take up the banner, too!  Oh, if you are still thinking of a summer meet-up, I have some dates in July for you.  My family reunion will be the 17 and 18 of July in KC, so the following weekend, July 24 and 25, would work best for some sort of meet-up.  I would really like to get a trip up to Toronto in, too, especially if Matt can’t make it down to Quincy.  Another option would be to find a “neutral” site that would be central for everyone, like Chicago. 

  30. @Redlegsix –  Ruth, I hope you have an opportunity to blog again more frequently, but can completely understand how you would be distracted now! =D@rudyhou –  Yeah, good bagels are hard to find outside of the US and Canada.@onmovement –  Not about you at all Jason… but I’m glad you followed up on the idea!

  31. what a great intoduction to yourself. i really enjoy your travel logs and seeing all the new and different foods.  i love trying out new things with the exception of snails, brains, etc.  i did have some worm cookies and some ants and beetles and rattlesnake.  the cookies tasted like chocolate chips the insects were crunchy no flavor, and the snake tasted like chicken but alligator and crocodile don’t , kangaroo was surprisingly dry and tastless!!

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