Settling back into the routine here in Krungthep, I’m reminded why I carry my camera with me most everywhere I go. There is always something interesting to see. On Wednesday I had to run some errands. I drove to the Ministry of Labor to retrieve my work permit book, the address of which I had modified to reflect the “annex” unit we bought next door to our condo. Then I continued to the post office to mail wedding thank-you cards. Next I headed to UOB Bank to drop off some paperwork. Finally, I stopped at Emporium mall to have some pho at Little Hanoi restaurant.
While sitting in traffic on Sukhumvit Road, I noticed something odd about the cement truck in front of me. Dangling between the rear wheels was a dirty pink stuffed animal, akin to an Ugly Doll but probably not a branded one. I’ve seen this before. In fact, about a year ago I was noticing this on cars and trucks of all types here in Krungthep. To this day, though, nobody with whom I’ve spoken has an explanation. Why would you tie a stuffed animal at the back of your vehicle?
From the carpark at UOB Bank (the Sukhumvit 25 branch), I snapped this picture of an unfinished hotel. This is supposed to become a Crowne Plaza property at the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 27 but the developer halted construction about six months ago, ostensibly in response to the lousy tourism market. It is very well-located, just a few blocks from the Asoke/Sukhumvit junction and the Skytrain and Subway stations there. to the right of the picture you can see the Windsor Suites hotel, managed by our friend Ben. Very nice hotel and also well-located. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Krungthep, I recommend it.
Tawn was very inspired by our trip to New York, taking careful notes on the styles and looks he saw on Manhattan’s busy streets. Above is one of his work outfits that he put together as a result of his inspiration. What do you think?
Speaking of New York, I returned from my 24-day trip to the US only to discover that a Dunkin Donuts kiosk has opened underneath the escalator connection from the Asoke Skytrain station to the Sukhumvit Subway station. See, the Big Mango is just like the Big Apple!
Since my return, I’ve resumed my twice-weekly classes with my Thai tutor, Khruu Kitiya. For the past two and a half years, we’ve been meeting at the same place, a small coffee shop and restaurant called Bitter Brown, also close to the Asoke/Sukhumvit junction. They make cute latte art, like the flowers above. After having been gone for nearly a month, the owner was a bit shocked to see me again. “We thought you must have graduated!” he said, upon seeing me.
No, I haven’t graduated. Although, Khruu Kitiya is suggesting it might be a good idea for me to take the government administered “Saab Bor Hok”, or Sixth Grade Examination. While it isn’t a requirement for me, this examination represents the level of linguistic skills the government expects for certain types of visa holders such as missionaries or those applying for permanent residency. The test, which lasts about five hours, has four parts:
- Dictation of questions and multiple-choice answers, in which you have to indicate the correct answer on an exam sheet.
- Reading of questions and multiple-choice answers, in which you have to indicate the correct answer on an exam sheet.
- A writing section composed of two parts: Dictation of paragraphs which you have to correctly write on the exam sheet, and then the composing of a short essay based on a question or subject given during the exam.
- An oral section in which you have to engage in a ten-minute conversation with an evaluator.
Khruu Kitiya’s assessment, with which I concur, is that the first two parts would be very easy for me, the writing section would be challenging (the essay would be harder for me than the dictation), and the oral section would be a killer. This is because the one thing I don’t spend much time doing is actually speaking with Thais, since I work from home and my work is in English. As she has suggested before, Tawn and I should probably start using Thai as the spoken language at home.
Contrast this with Jon, a 19-year old Canadian with whom we had dinner Thursday night. Jon first contacted me through this blog more than a year and a half ago, when he was on a one-year Rotary Club exchange program here in Bangkok. He finished that program and returned to complete his senior year in Edmonton, with the plan of returning to Bangkok after he has his university degree.
Jon spent most of his year here immersed with Thais – Thai students, Thai friends, living with a Thai family. Then on this current two-month trip, the circumstances have been the same: all Thai, all the time. Needless to say, his spoken Thai is way beyond mine and I was humbled by the ease with which he and Tawn were able to converse. Clearly, there is still some work for me to do!
The good news is, the “Saab Bor Hok” isn’t until the end of November, so I have time to prepare for it as well as time to decide whether or not I even want to take it at this time.
View from my balcony on Friday late afternoon. We’re in rainy season and there were some spectacular storms this week. The best part about it, in my opinion, is the way these awesome (and I mean that in the original sense of the word) clouds form: huge, complicated things that build into dark, angry towers. They are amazing to watch.
Lots of cooking to update you on in the next entry.