Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chiang Mai: translating and transportation, warmness and newfound credibility - May 29, 2007

I get Al-Jazeera in my room, along with MTV Asia. I should be set for life now. Maybe I should offer some context: I got an apartment in Chiang Mai after only my second day being here. Thomas and I meandered on over the measly 3.5km through sauna-like weather to the university yesterday and met up with Song-Si, Chiang Mai University’s (CMU) foreign relations liaison. After signing some papers and hearing various faculty vent about the atrociousness of last year’s PIA fellow, we jumped into Song-Si’s car for a ride. It was nice to finally have a friend in a new city, not only for translating and transportation, but warmness and some sense of newfound credibility over the other hillbilly travelers. We didn’t drive very far before Song-Si made the mistake of partially driving off a curb high enough to deal her car some significant damage. Luckily some nice people from the nearby Mr. Car came by and helped us push her car out of danger.
And so we arrived at one of the nicest apartments in town. 18,000 baht later for a down payment and it was mine.
My apartment is in the ritzy western district of Chiang Mai, and while it lacks a gym, there’s a Powerhouse directly behind it (ironically much fancier and more expensive than the one back home, though lacking dumbbells heavier than 75lbs) and a Starbucks across the street.
Thomas and I attended our first Muay Thai fight last night in which two 7 year old kids viciously went at it to kick off the lineup that included various mismatches and an international headliner featuring an Irishman and a Thai. I took some flack from an Irishman sitting next to me for cheering in favor of the Thai even though the Irishman in the ring held a significant size advantage and I had just been informed that every match-up between a westerner and a Thai always seems to be rigged in favor of the westerner.
“How can you be rooting for the Thai?” the Gallic inquired.
“You said it yourself, it seems every match-up is rigged for the Westerner” I put in my two cents. “Not to mention the fact that westerners have been coming over to this part of the world and exerting their dominance for too long: it’s time for the Thai to rise up.”
“Isn’t that what you want to do, though? You said it yourself you want to do Muay Thai. Don’t you want to get into the ring, fight them, and win?”
“I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”
“And another thing" he continued. "You shouldn’t be rooting for the westerner because he’s a westerner: you should be rooting for him because he’s Irish.”

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