Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thai Time

When I was in Thailand a few weeks ago, I was able to conduct some important sociological research into the differences between Chiang Mai and Guangzhou. (I hope it's not too gauche to say that it's attracted a lot of interest at the prestigious Second Tier Asian Cities Quarterly, forthcoming from Chicago University Press.) What follows is a summary of my results.

  1. Jason and I got a massage. Sorry, that makes it sound like we got a joint massage. What I mean is that we both got massages. Concurrently. In the same room. We had a curtain separating us from the torso down, but luckily we could still look into each other's eyes.

    We found the massage parlor by walking essentially aimlessly around a section of central Chiang Mai until we found a small shop with MASSAGE stenciled on the front window. Shops like this make me nervous. Afficianados will recall that when people offer you massages in China, they usually actually want to sell you sex. And everyone knows that Thailand is full of prostitutes eager to find American men before they're evacuated by helecopter.

    That might just have been Miss Saigon.

    I ended up getting a massage in the name of science, but I chose the "Back, Neck, and Head", which seemed like the least sexy option. Did this woman try to seduce me? Let's just say that things really took a turn after she massaged my back and neck.

    By which I mean she told me to put my clothes on and served me tea. She didn't massage my head or do anything head related at all. Just a case of faulty advertising. A better name for the experience would have been "Back, Neck, Feet, Hand, and Thigh Massage, plus I'll pull on your arms a little bit." There was absolutely no sexy content in the massage at all, though when she was doing my thighs her hands did get a little close to the ol' reclining buddha. I let it go.

    What's shocking is that the hot oil massage that Jason ordered was also not sexy. In fact, his masseuse took like 6 calls in the hour it took to rub him down. Lady, a white man just walked into your place of business, handed you 200 Baht, and told you to work hot oil into his body. Come on. Get it together. Fulfil some stereotypes already.

  2. Jason and I sang karaoke. Now, Chinese people really like karaoke (or as they call it, 卡拉OK (how can you tell it's fun? Because it has OK right in the name!)), but I think Thai people may like it even more. They, are at least, more creative. Quick quiz: if you wanted to sing karaoke, where would you like to sing it? Would you like to sing in a dark room with couches and a table and a comfortable, lounge-like atmosphere, like Chinese people do?

    Naw, man.

    You want to really sing karaoke? GRAVEYARD!

    "Sure," you're thinking, "I could sing in a graveyard and enact some sick Haunted Mansion fantasy, but what if I also want to see some vaguely nautical netting?"

    Also, above the TV there is a ghoul. Based on the theme rooms at this karaoke establishment, other accpetable places to sing karaoke are: Prison, Erotic, Space.

  3. I got to sit in on one of Jason's classes. He promised that his students would be cute and energetic, and boy was he right as Rama IX. We played a question and answer game together (premise: they ask me questions; I answer them), and at the end Jason had them make acrostics out of my name.

    Jason's friend
    Oh! My! God!
    Nice to meet you.

    White skin
    E-mail [Yes, I do know what email is; thanks for asking.]

    As you can see, very, very sweet. The second one was more laconic, and also more confusing.

    Journals [yes, this is a word that begins with J]
    Oriental teacher [I'm putting that on my business cards]


    Very sweet as well. Just a swell bunch of kids, overall. A+ Teacher Jason!

And then I came home from Thailand, and since then not a single person has given me a massage, invited me to a graveyard, or said that I was wisdom. I should really just go back, because it's obviously the place for me.