Shaken & Stirred

Shaken & Stirred

I toured the beautiful Phang Nga Bay by longtail boat with the aforementioned American couple and a previously unmentioned German couple. (I’m the fifth wheel!) The Americans had recently moved from Seattle to India where wife just got a 2-year teaching contract at a primary school and is now on spring break with her retired husband.
(Quick Note: Most other travelers I encounter are European. Comparing Americans to Europeans, I have noticed that Europeans feel no pressure to socialize when combined in these random tour group collections. Americans are far more friendly and eager to give you an account of themselves, to find a common ground and a way to related to you, for better or worse, via the usual channels {Profession, place of residence and other such small discoveries}. Silence, to Americans, seems an obstacle to combat, an uncomfortable predicament easily relieved by small talk, which, despite its reputation, has the potential of blooming more meaningful conversation. Always ready for a smile or “hello”, I am an anomaly amongst locals and foreigners here. Of course I realize my 7 weeks of travels hardly make me an expert on international social relations.)

So yes, I got the Americans’ story in vivid detail but barely a word or two from the Germans who seemed to overcompensate their exclusivity with many smiles. Strickened to the middle of the boat for my lack of an additional party, I rebelliously caused the vessel to sway dangerously from side to side as photographic opportunities arose, causing uncomfortable smiles all around. The “captain” eventually balanced my weight by moving to the right and left of the motor. What a troublemaker. Occasionally I wonder what other people think of me, the mysterious lone American fearlessly trudging abroad by her lonesome. But I let them keep their ideas as they are most likely far more interesting.

The Americans and I bonded for many reasons. Number 1, we are all American. You don’t know what this means til you’re overseas and see just how far the culture reaches. In music, clothes, styles, movies, television, cell phone ringtones (most popular: some R&B song that says “You’re such a beeeautiful girl…” and, for the women, Tattoo by Jordin Sparks). Besides quips about the struggling economy, locals say “Aaaaamerica” as if it is a fairytale. Number 2, I spent some time in Seattle. But more so, number 3, the wife and I were both teachers. My new affiliation with Teachers College at Columbia sealed the deal; she’d just been accepted to participate in their highly competitive Summer literacy intensive program and I, their Masters program in literacy education.

Considering the highlight of the day trip was visiting the famous “James Bond Island”, featured in Man With the Golden Gun, that’s Roger Moore up there. Below, my shots from the day, excluding the pointless stop at a Muslim fishing villages that had us parading through people’s homes on a small rickety pier, only to be trapped by trinket shops and a woman charging for pictures with her diapered monkey.

Tham Lod Cave

Tham Keaw (Crystal Cave)

Khao Ping Kan (“James Bond Island”)

Khao Khien (Ancient Painting Cave)

Khao Marju (Pekinese Rock)