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Coffee House Easter

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Three weeks has turned into three months in Oregon. Rain alternating with sun and hail. That’s the NW.

The CT scan, what I came up here for, showed esophageal varicies but the endoscopy didn’t. Hmmm. So more medical follow up.

Old renter moving out April 11 and I get to move into my house! Being in that little trailer at the farm with my son is getting crowded. New renter moves in May 14. Will sort and sell and give away most of my shit. Got a storage unit for stuff I can’t part with…yet. In the meantime I am coordinating contractors for yard work, roof repair, painting of the house etc. etc. before it falls down. I might need it someday.

So I’m in my little funky but cozy coffee shop with wifi where I go to every morning. Same people, sitting in the same seats…a group of about 8 retired guys sitting together for half the day and sometimes longer. They peruse the newspapers and comment. Seems like we live here. They ignore me. Curious and unusual. I wonder where the wives are. I think they think they are in a man cave. I think they are!

Outside on the sidewalk is a reader board says “Because You Can Never Find A Starbucks When You Need One.” There are two Starbucks around the corner in the same block where the shop lets the homeless hang out to keep warm…occasionally coffee in hand. Having lived here for 35 years and having been the manager of a homeless program at a two- county nonprofit, I’ve never seen so many panhandlers on downtown streets. But I only give cigarettes to the mentally ill ones who are obviously off their meds…hoping it will be soothing to them.

In the meantime reverse culture shock is hitting me in the face again. You would think I would be beyond this by now.

I keep running into first world rules and regs! Got a $20 ticket for parking less than a foot over the white line. But that’s nothing compared to the hijacking of my car in a hospital parking structure because by law you can’t drive for 12 hours after anesthesia and I had to get a hotel room just because my 12 hours were up at 7:30pm but couldn’t get the parking ticket validated because the office closed at 5! F+++++g police state! Slap me silly if I complain about Mexico again!

And last year I got a $200 ticket for turning right when a pedestrian still had 2 steps to get out of the cross walk on the other side!

A traveling friend describes it as an “invisible barrier that sometimes leads to invisible, but sometimes even open conflict.” Yep! Coming or going. Culture shock is always worst for me coming back…not going. It’s just that I really notice these things more when I return because they feel so personally restrictive. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I get off the plane in Mexico or SE Asia. I thought by now I’d be beyond all this! NOT!

And another thing! I’m done with hearing “how was your day” and “have a great day” 50 times a day! Does NOT put me in a good mood! And I’m done with cold and rain. Think it’s time to go home.

I do love the NW and of course that’s the thing about culture shock. You are in one place and want to be in the other too.


Monday, September 30th, 2013

OMG, it’s almost been a year since my last RTW! I am planning my next trip back to Thailand to get some teeth in November and to see my sons in Thailand and Hong Kong. I am beginning to anticipate…and remember…

An expat took his laptop battery to the computer shop opposite Makro in Samui to see if they had one or could order one from Bangkok. He approached the guy at the counter with his carrier bag. (There was no one else in the shop, and the guy was not busy doing anything)

“Sawasdee Krap”


“can you help me?”


“I have a laptop battery” (reaching into carrier bag)

(At this point the battery was still concealed in the bag)

“Can you….?.”


“cannot what?”


“Do you have……?” (producing said battery. He didn’t even look at it)


” I see…..Can you order from Bangkok?”


“Are you saying that there is no shop in the whole of Bangkok where you can get a laptop battery?”


Another expat:
“In Banphai there is a pharmacy, each time I go in, without looking up the man says NO HAVE. Hello I can see what I want on that shelf… NO HAVE…I go outside and get the [Thai] wife and she asks for the same item. He goes to the shelf and passes item to my wife 80 baht please. WTF.”

You may also encounter Mr. NONO and Mrs. SHOO-SHOO

I think there may be several things going on here.

Mrs. NOHAVE may not understand the request and don’t want to admit it to save face. Also may apply to MR. CANNOT, MR. NONO and MRS SHOO-SHOO.
Mr. CANNOT can not speak English in order to answer the request.
This may be followed up by Mrs. SHOO-SHOO
Mr. CANNOT and Mrs. NO HAVE, Mr. NONO and Mrs. SHOO-SHOO may be tired.
Thais are sick of dealing with farangs who don’t speak Thai
Thais are sick of dealing with farangs

Of course it may be true that they really CANNOT or NO HAVE.

An American Mother in Mexico

Saturday, April 14th, 2012
I often encounter locals in Mexico who are quite shocked to hear that I have three in the U.S. one in Hong Kong and one in Thailand part of the year. To make it worse my husband is in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Dangers of Humor Across Cultures

Saturday, April 14th, 2012
A friend in a Couchsurfing forum observed that when he first moved to Malta he would try jokes, wry observations, and other kinds of humor I was used to back in New Hampshire and Boston. I'd usually receive blank stares, ... [Continue reading this entry]

In And Out Of Bangkok

Monday, March 17th, 2008
Have become familiar enough with Asia that the usual things you notice on the surface aren't so eye-catching now. Am learning to adapt to surface cultural differences with less frustration. But adapting for a traveler briefly passing through is ... [Continue reading this entry]

Contemplating Going “Home”

Friday, February 23rd, 2007
I was quickly stopped by a policeman. "Have you been drinking? Have you been smoking pot? Your eyes are all red! Then he made me stand, in high heels, on one foot and count to forty. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Late Saturday Night Out

Monday, October 23rd, 2006
Saturday afternoon, Gerardo and I went by collective taxi to Huayapam to take some cds full of Mike's pictures he had taken of the soccer game to Bardo's son Pavel. Returning to the city about 9pm we decided to stop ... [Continue reading this entry]

I Could Be In India

Monday, August 7th, 2006
I was reading through some of my blog entries about India the other day and then I came upon this article about India and laughed so hard I nearly cried. It's really good to laugh. Trying Really Hard To ... [Continue reading this entry]

One Oaxacan Migrant Family

Monday, June 26th, 2006
Yesterday I went to Tule...a small town of about 15,000 near Oaxaca City. What a charming place. Most of the men are gone up north, my driver said (as a huge brand new black diesel pickup backed up ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mexican Cumbia Dancing

Sunday, June 11th, 2006
I had forgotten how much fun it is to dance to Mexican music! I think I am a Mexican trapped in a gringo body! Last Friday, Gerardo and his mom, Socorroo, invited me, a few of her friends, Michael, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Emails From Leila

Saturday, April 15th, 2006
WOW what a city. BANGKOK is alive. It is New year for them amd they celebrate with water. The streets are alive with people walking arround with water pistols and clay. Everyome is om thr street. You goota srr it ... [Continue reading this entry]

Songkran Water Festival

Saturday, April 15th, 2006
Day before yesterday was New Years in Lao. Yesterday was New Years in Thailand, although the celebration continues for several days in these countries. We get it again! Leila took a cheap bus to Kao San Road while I ... [Continue reading this entry]

Sabaidee Pi Mai Lao!

Thursday, April 13th, 2006
Lao New Year (and in Thailand) is a time to encourage young people to absorb the spirit of cleaning their temples, houses, stupas of their ancestors and apparently the bodies of anyone, especially the foreigners they come across. The purpose ... [Continue reading this entry]

Culture Shock

Monday, April 3rd, 2006
as my mother would have said.): Am taking the liberty of posting Bob's April 3 email describing homecoming culture shock after arriving home in Oregon from Asia...very succinct.
good morning; On Comcast internet--- and it's fast. What a pleasure. The air is fresh. It's brisk. Everything green. No ... [Continue reading this entry]

Tha Ton Thailand

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006
gatQye8keZlS3vpnwrOvxg-2006186163905868.gif Supuat drove me to Tha Tan...right on the Thai-Burma border directly north of Chiang Mai to see several minority groups, Lisu, Lahu, Akha and Longnecks, that live there. Last year in southern Yunnan China, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Reverent Inquiry

Friday, March 10th, 2006
In spite of my petty but honest day-to-day frustration with bureaucratic silliness while traveling in most developing countries, I treasure the lives of the people who ironically seem to have integrity...congruity. The way they live is understandable in relation ... [Continue reading this entry]

The World A Playground?

Saturday, March 4th, 2006
A friend recently emailed me asking what it is like to have all the world as my "playground." This was my very brief answer: Well, the best thing about traveling in developing countries like SE Asia, Africa and China ... [Continue reading this entry]

International Night On Koh Samui

Saturday, February 25th, 2006
We're back on Samui and I have rented a brand new furnished one bedroom house for $12.00 a night at "Solitude Resort" on a mountainside about a mile from Doug and Luk's bungalow. The first evening we were welcomed by our ... [Continue reading this entry]

Now…Not Later

Sunday, February 5th, 2006
It is typical for Thais to think only about what to do now...not some time in the future. So when Doug was showing me houses to buy next year, we asked Luk where she wanted to go next...her answer ... [Continue reading this entry]


Friday, February 3rd, 2006
I have learned a new ethnic slur..."eurotrash"...which apparently refers to the white Europeans who come to third world countries claiming to be somebody big back home but selfishly feeding off the local generosity...the word, I think, usually used by the ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Meaning of Riaproy

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006
Some friends that spent a year in Thailand with the Peace Corps have said there is an additional Thai value that is called "riaproy." "It means polite and well-mannered; neat. It also means orderly; ready-to-go. Rarely do you see ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bar Girls

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006
Bar Girls Waiting For Customers To Buy Them A Beer And Whatever... Bar Girls Bar Girls 2

Teach The Children What?

Thursday, January 19th, 2006
On National Children's Day in Thailand, it is a tradition for the Prime Minister to deliver a positive "motto." This year the wealthy PM Thaksin who owns Thai Air and other assets said that children should read more and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Babies Take Manhattan

Monday, December 5th, 2005
Nanny's pushing babies in strollers are everywhere in Brooklyn, we noticed soon after arriving here, so it was no surprise when the New York Times ran a story December 1 called "The Children Are Back" ... "Babies Take Manhattan" a ... [Continue reading this entry]


Tuesday, November 1st, 2005
We had been years since we saw Odetta so when Bob read that she would be performing in a Village club we jumped at the chance to get tickets. She walked in dressed in a dramatic multi-colored red and ... [Continue reading this entry]

New York Style

Monday, October 24th, 2005
Most everyone in New York is interested in looking stylish. The definition is different, however depending on the neighborhood you are in...whether on the affluent Upper West Side or on the Lower East Side. It also makes a difference ... [Continue reading this entry]

Strangers in the “hood”

Monday, October 24th, 2005
I've never been in a city that has such diverse but tight little neighborhoods. The first question asked by anyone you meet, after what do you do, is where do you live. Soon you know the tenant ... [Continue reading this entry]

The New York Attitude

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005
The New York attitude is a lot more complicated than simple rudeness. According to a local, it's a mixture of being tough, brave, on your toes, jaded, overworked and intensely focused. Who needs to be pulled into a ... [Continue reading this entry]

Third Culture Kids

Monday, October 17th, 2005
Third Culture Kids are children of expatriate families who live for a significant proportion of their lives in a culture other than their own, where they travel to many countries other than their own passport country. This results in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Thainess And The West

Sunday, July 17th, 2005
The July 2005 edition of the slick upscale magazine for English-speaking foreigners called The Big Chilli ran an article with interviews of prominent Bangkok residents to get their views of what constitutes Thai culture. Two were Thai and two ... [Continue reading this entry]