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The adventures of Lychee

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Sunday, 04 May 2008

Something's different here

This page will no longer be updated and I won't be checking messages here anymore. I've moved most of my page to a private location, some things are linked from outside so they will stay. Originally, this was set up to keep in touch with people and then it became a journal. Eventually, I was paying to keep lots of content here.

I've met some nice people from this site and I'm sorry that it won't be public anymore. If I know you and I forgot to tell you the new address, please email me.

A few people have influenced me to stop paying for this space. I'm not going to acknowledge them as individuals and give them their fifteen minutes here. But, I decided that I may as well make some money from my work and get back to the people that this page was developed for.

P.S. Some of the emails I sent (ahem, AOL, I am looking at you) bounced back. So, please email me.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Location: Gasping, Thailand

One Day I Woke Up in an Alternate Universe, One Without Goodwin’s Law
Nazis= not so bad, Asians= permitted to be culturally insensitive (because they can’t know better!?!)

A while back, I posted some pictures of Thai school children dressed as Nazis at a school function. The photos are under the section labeled W…T…F, a title that I deemed appropriate. I should also give proper credit to those photos as they were found on the forums of teflwatch.org, posted anonymously by someone who was there as a non-participant.

These photos and the discussion about Thais’ knowledge about Basic Western history have started a discussion in the world of Thailand teachers’ websites. Now, a few other outside media and NGOs have picked up on the story, and I hope it gets interesting. On the Thai Internet forums, there have been many of the expected, “Gaaaasssp!? WTF. Somebody needs to be fired over this…” kinds of comments, and they have been the majority. While I’d like to dismiss the people who defended the school’s actions as just provocateurs, I really would, there are several things running deeper than that.

Read ‘em and weep here:
http://ajarnforum.net/vb/showthread.php?t=25193
http://www.teflwatch.org/forum/index.php/topic,...
http://www.teflwatch.org/316/nazi-celebration-i...
you may need to read these long discussions in order to understand some of my ranting and generally pissed off tone. I’ve recovered from my denial that some people (teachers!) could commit such stupidly to writing and moved through my general awe of the sheer amount of thinly veiled racism I’ve read. Now, I’m in the anger phase.

First of all, hating Nazis isn’t just a Jewish thing, okay? I’d like to think of it as hating evil in general, but if you’re the uptight type that needs cites, Wikipedia has these statistics on deaths attributed to the holocaust:
Jews- 5-6 million
Soviet POWs 2–3 million
Politicals 1–1.5 million
Serbs 600,000
Poles 200,000+
Roma 220,000–500,000
Freemasons 80,000–200,000
Disabled 75,000–250,000
Spanish POWs 7,000–16,000
Gay men 5,000–15,000
Jehovah's Witnesses 2,500–5,000

Yes, it tends to be Jewish organizations that are known to point out people that deny or minimize the holocaust, but if the religion of the person talking is an issue for you, you’ve got bigger problems.

Second of all, yes, I do get that the swastika can be used as a Buddhist symbol… can be, but if you are saying the pictures are Buddhist, you’re blind as a bat. The swastika is also much older than Buddhism and was picked up by them along with the Harappans, Aryans, Egyptians, Romans and has even been pictured on ancient synagogues (yeah, those Jewish places.) I happen to have read a book on the subject; this book:
http://www.kronos-press.com/swastika/index.htm

Lewis Greenberg, the author of that book was my professor (and a Jew for those of you counting, lots of American professors are, you know?) So, yeah, I happened to learn about the history of the symbol in Art of Asia, a college course. A few of us teachers in Thailand think that being, you know, educated and reading the f--king books and getting a real degree might actually help so that you know some shit. I’m getting uppity now and that tends to happen when I’m right, one hundred percent.

Third, I need to have a word with you apologists that say that the Thais don’t know any better and simply aren’t capable of knowing. (I’m just going to casually mention in parentheses that that’s implying that the Thais are stupid, isn’t it?) Most of this apologizing is being written by teachers. Teachers!? National UN Day is October 24th and I’m talking to the kids (as I’m paid to do just that) about the International Declaration of Human Rights and what lead up to the UN being formed. Even a passing, “Kids, did you know that the Nazis were bad?” would help fight some ignorance. All this nonsense that Thais have no frame of reference to this Western stuff is also craziness. These teachers are teaching English, a Western language and it’s our job to explain and give children a frame of reference. I learned about the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima at age nine, and a few pictures of melted stone statues communicated part of the idea quite well. I’d like to think that learning about some of the bad things that humans have done in history have made me a better person for it.

Finally, you may wonder why I am posting this here and not fighting on the forums. I have found that it is nearly impossible to underestimate the level of stupidly of some of my “esteemed colleagues” in Thailand. With some of these Western exiles, it’s like talking to a brick wall, a rather dull one at that. If you are still bored, you can read teachers here defend teaching illegally, fake degrees and why teachers without degrees are better teachers. On ajarn.com forums, another favorite topic is which bars have the best girls. (Btw, ajarn is Thai for “professor”.) This is why I refuse to manage teachers here anymore.

Some other blogs and media have picked up the story:
http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/apps/nl/content....
http://www.israelforum.com/blog_article.php?aid...
http://www.who-sucks.com/people/nazi-kids-in-th...


Photos - Click Below

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Recent Messages

From Thaistory
I added your blog in my Thai EduBlogroll: http://teacherinthailand.blogspot.com/2007/08/t.... Leave a comment if you’re interested in a link exchange.
Response: Thanks for that. I am replying so that your link will be displayed on my page. Since my blog has no ads, I am not really looking for traffic, but I don't mind either. Good lck with your site.
From TEFLWatcher
I too was appalled by the actions of some of the posters on the thread as an attempt to justify the actions of the Thais. The event signified an severe educational issue at the school and that means it applies to teachers. If you're not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.
Response: Yep. The school has now apologized but this whole thing, with both Thais and Foreign reaction is symptomatic of a larger problem, or several. There must be a banner somewhere in the Bangkok airport that I missed that reads, "Welcome to the land or racism and low expectations." I'm not going to bother to address the antisemitism of some of the Westerners here because it's just pointless. But, Westerners sometimes fail to understand that we too can be offended on a cultural basis and we have a right to be offended... some saying otherwise argue that the Thais are inferior and not worthy of being held accountable. My well-educated students will say racist things at times and even though they are ten, they will still hear from me that it's wrong. If Thailand is going anywhere in this century, the standards need to be higher, much higher.
From Carolyn
I have laughed out loud
reading about "The Word"!!
I'm glad you have such a
good sense of humor.
It must serve you well in
you job!
Response: Aw, thanks. Luckily, my new promotion may get me out of some of these prayers because I'll need to make schedules. I have the feeling schedules will need to be made often this year.
From Rachel
Lindsay, I'm still reading, and enjoying your writings as much as ever. I'm sorry that we missed each other in NJ last summer.
Response: It's good to know that people I actually know are still reading! As you can tell, I am still enjoying my little Internet soapbox out here. This year I am getting a little homesick, especially for Philly, unfortunately, I think the timing is not good for another visit this year. I'll look into April of next year as the Whitney Biennale should be in NYC then.
From Carolyn
Just killed an hour reading....
my brother sent your site to me. He just got home from Bangkok...goes there alot on business and loves the country. Thanks for the entertainment and the education!
Response: thanks for the compliments...I hope to start writing more frequenty again, so come back soon
From Bruce
Hi Lychee, I have enjoyed looking at all your photos and comments. It looks like you are having lots of fun in BKK. I love you apt looking out at the elephant building. I go to the Chevron building nearby you when I am there on business. I stay with a friend when I am in BKK near On Nut Soi 46. However, it's not so nice as your place, and no AC. I love BKK and am trying to get transfered to the area with my company, or get some kind of decent job there. Maybe the closest I could get would be KL. have you ever been there? They say it is similar to BKK, but I bet the people are not as much fun. I study Thai here in Houston Texas at the local Thai temple. I guess I read on a first grade level now! Keep up the cute postings, its so much fun to read.
Response: thanks!
From hope
I still miss and enjoyed getting your e-mail. I hope everything is alright with you, I am still hanging in here. contact me again soon.
love
hope
ps. Mc & Sm have finally increased their prices
Response: Keep in touch Hope
From Gary
I enjoy your site. Been to Thailand and planning on moving there with my wife after retirement from govermnment. I enjoy your photos and stories of Thai culture. Keep them coming.
Response: Good to know who's reading this and I'm glad you're enjoying it. Thanks
From clela
Hi Lindsay,
Finally checked out your site. Better cultural catch up then having a T.V.
See you tonight for dinner?
Cle
From Maui Mark
lol about Farang... here in Hawai'i, outsiders are called "ha'ole" (pronounced HOW-lee) -- and it means literally "without breath"... thus the tall pale-faces are the "walking dead" to the local HAPAs... xoxoxox
Response: Well, farang can mean French or Guava... A French person eating a guava here is like Jerry Lewis is to the French.
From hope
Hi, just wanted you to know that you are still missed here, by me. I finally decided to look up your site and write you, so you would know I having been thinking about you and your adventures. The questions of are you coming back and if not where is your next stop will be. love always hope
Response: I have no idea where I am going or when I will be back. I barely know where I am currently. Miss you too.
From Steve Mauney
This was really cool to read...just got through reading Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett. Thought his take on Thailand was interesting to say the least, then you come in and steal the show. Great space! Think I now must build one of my own!
Response: Thanks a bunch. I'm glad to share it. (c) 2005
From JoEllen
Hi Lindsay: Good to read your site again. I was in Italy for a month, so I missed some adventures. School starts tomorrow here. I can't believe it has been l0 years since taught at CHS and met you. Your painting is still up in the hallway!
Response: Now that I am at an Inernational school, I have almost the same schedule. Be there in June! Hope to see Italy someday, I hear they need teachers in Spain. (Same continent, right?)
From Rachel
hmm, interesting question. I looked up Teen People magazine and they have a page of relationship quizzes. Since these guys are acting like teenagers that would be appropriate. You might also google "celibacy" and "born again" for some fun choices. Maybe websites about STD's too?
Response: Today I came up with a Russian brides for sale website.

This is almost as much fun as when I decorated my boss' office with the tackiest dollar store Christmas decorations I could find and hid a radio playing The Chipmonk's Chistmas album. (It was June at the time.)
From thecat
Excellent ramblings! I'm also in Thailand, but way behind you in the Thai language. I need all the help I can get when it comes to getting around the country though. Ran into a couple of wee snafus along the way. Makes for an interesing life though, yes?

I ran across your site in Stumble. Apparently we have sites in common (do not know how that works yet)

Anyway, well done. I'll be back often.

cat


Response: Thanks! It's always good to get another expat perspective.

Just rememeber that nothing will ever go smoothly or be timely and that swearing in English is rarely offensive. Works for me.

Somehow, living here still is worth it.
From Nok
Hi Lins, thx for the party on Saturday night. Had a really great time and great to see you again. Have a lovely week. Luv Nok ;-)
Response: Hey, I am going to have my housewarming soon. See you there.
From Jim
Hi Fellow Expat,
Great stuff. My favorite oddities here are "sidewalks", a major misnomer. I always wondered why thai people always look down when they walk but after a few weeks of tripping and stumbling over poorly laid concrete, poles in the middle of the sidewalk, and mysterious gaping holes, I sort of understand.

Fellow student loan ducking Expat
Response: I usually assume the "mysterious" holes in the sidewalks are broken sewer caps. Yummy! Anyhow, enjoy your Vica..um...ayra Day off. No booze at the bars because its a Buddhist holiday but it is Bangkok and "rules" are a bit hazy. My contingency plan is a thermos of bourbon and a party with some press here for Miss Universe.
From Michelle
Hey Lindsay, sorry my school couldn't get their act together long enough to offer you a job. They still haven't hired an art teacher, and have now decided they're not going to bother this year. TIT, huh?
We've ended up with 3 new English teachers, guys, but actually really cool ones, so this semester shouldn't be too bad. And my kids are still great. Sounds like you're new school is going great. Pity you're stuck among a typical bunch of sexpats though. We've been lucky so far, but doubt our luck will hold! :-)
Still love your blog - it's the funniest thing on Thailand I've read, and spot on!
Response: Uh-huh.
From Maka
You are obviously having too much fun.
Keep it up, and the good posts too.
From Pablo (again)
Your last post is hilarious...I do not qualify for any of your teams...does that mean I am normal by default? Where ar normal" headquarters" at? I keep bumping into people from the other teams...
Response: Yep, "Normal" is a very relative term here! The Goose flies at midnight...
From Hi girl
If you do decide to come to Korea, can you please email me ASAP if you want my high-paying job in Korea? I have a big personal crises I need to attend to, so I think I'm going to need to leave my job, but I can't leave them in a lurch, because they have been so super cool to me. The job pays 2.75 million won a month which is way more than the normal. The normal in Korea is about 2 million won. You get a free apartment and free airfare, too, of course. It's about 2 hours from Seoul. There's a direct bus straight from your apartment to the nightclub part of Seoul for about $1.5 (a dollar and fifty cents). The apartment is a block away from Baskin Robbins ice cream. The bosses are really cool. I'll tell you more details if you are interested. If not, do you know anybody? Please write as soon as possible.
Response: Cool. I like big cities, but I'll email and pass it on.
--See what I mean about jobs everywhere folks?
From hope
Hi Lin.,
I finally had the time to look at this site you have set up. I live through your adventures cause I don't think I am going to make it for a visit anytime soon. I miss you, I recently took a bunch of student teachers to McCormick & Schmicks to intro them to our $1.95 menu. it was fun but not like the fun we used to have. please take care. talk to you again soon.
Hope.
Response: Hey, not everybody's "American Life" can be put on hiatus as interestingly as mine did. Although we have an elephant pass by an eating establishment from time to time, we don't have $1.95 quesadillas...or quesadillas that aren't awful for that matter.
From Pablo
Hi,
32 y/o from Spain here!
Thanks for providing me two hours of entertaining reading!!
Moved to Bangkok about the same time as you and feel identified with your first time in Thailand experiences very often!!
From hope
HI, I miss you and want to know what kind of coffee and smokes you want me to send for your belated birthday/christmas present. The old spots aren't the same without you so I haven't been to Mic & Shm much. also please comfirm your mailing address. do you ground or bean coffee and should I stay away from Dun'kin donuts and starbucks or will you accept anything. please contact me soon. I think I might just catch on to this computer thing, before it is too late. Love hope
From Jeff
Thanks for writing about your experiences in Thailand. It's always good to see that more goes on than the stereotypes about nightlife. (Although you do get out a fair amount!)

Are you going to get down to KL? We have lots of cats.
Response: Hey, thanks. I get out less now than when I was in Philly!

I have a stopover in Malaysia on my way to Bali but I won't even leave the airport. KL is on my list of places to stop by while I'm in the neighborhood. From what I hear it is a great spot and I have a few friends there.