By Stephen A Garrett
An American in Thailand paints a bright photograph of a desirable society during this account of his 12 months as a Fulbright professor at Chulalongkorn collage in Bangkok. Garrett exhibits what the Fulbright program is actually like, together with such details as facing the “web of bureaucratic eccentrics,” discovering housing, and dealing with “live-in” snakes. M. Carlota Baca, Director of educational Liaison on the Council for foreign alternate of students, describes those diary entries as a “graceful mixture of personal memory, trip literature, rumination on earlier U.S. international coverage in Southeast Asia, and particularly deft portraiture of human types.”
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Extra resources for Bangkok journal: a Fulbright year in Thailand
Sanuk and mai sanuk are key Thai phrasesthe former meaning, roughly, "fun" and the latter "not fun"with sanuk almost a Page 15 social obsession and mai sanuk to be avoided at all costs. There is another Thai phrase, mai pen rai, that also seems to provide a window into Thai character. " These expressions may be maddening to the efficiency-minded Westerner but seem quite functional to the lifestyles of the cultures involved. It's hard to imagine how all the little shops in the Pratunam (which incidentally means "watergate"I wonder if former president Nixon visited it when he was in Bangkok) can survive, especially since many of them seem to sell almost exactly the same goods.
On our first day out in the city, we also saw some darker sides of Bangkok life. Perhaps the one thing that particularly shocks American travelers in Third World countries is the presence of beggars, often deformed and pitiable in the extreme. Coming out of the elegant Daimaru, we passed by a wretched creature sitting on his haunches with his back against the wall. His eyes were gaping red sockets. People brushed past him with passive expressions, although I thought I did detect a hint of embarassment or perhaps even irritation on some of their faces, as if the beggar was an affront to the well-dressed Thais' sense of their own prosperity.
Tremendous bargains are available here: a pineapple goes for ten cents, a kilo of shrimp for a dollar, other fruits and vegetables for equivalent sums. On our first day out in the city, we also saw some darker sides of Bangkok life. Perhaps the one thing that particularly shocks American travelers in Third World countries is the presence of beggars, often deformed and pitiable in the extreme. Coming out of the elegant Daimaru, we passed by a wretched creature sitting on his haunches with his back against the wall.