Welcome

I guess you are here because you have discovered one of my books and enjoyed it enough to find out more about the author, me. Either that or you’re a potential employer who is investigating me to see if I would be a good fit for your organization. In which case, surprise, I write books as well as teach. Some might look at that as a bad thing, and if so, please explain to me how.

For whoever finds my site, I want to welcome you, and also allow you the opportunity to follow me on a regular basis. Anybody is welcome as long as you keep your posts appropriate, and respect the other followers to this site. As long as everybody follows those two simple rules, I won’t have to kick anybody off. Let the friendly banter begin.

I am hoping to create an interactive site that everybody can enjoy. Of course, I will keep you up to date on the latest writings coming out of my head, and I will also let you know when and where I will be in the world, so someday you might be able to meet me in person. Most people regret that decision, but who knows, maybe you’ll be in the minority.

I will also tell you about my world-wide travels as this is something I do on a regular basis. I’ll show you pictures from places I have been (this one is from Dubrovnik, better known to fans of The Song of Ice and Fire as King’s Landing), and tell you the exciting stories that happen to me along the way. You are also welcome to ask me any questions you may have about the place I have been, and I will try to answer them in a timely manner.

I know it all sounds amazing, and I can see you wondering why you haven’t been a part of this fantastic experience so far, but let me tell you about the most exciting part of following this site – the interactive part.  You were probably wondering when I would get to that part I had promised you earlier. Well, I plan to create a list every month, and I want you to participate in its formation. I do love countdowns, but I am always disappointed in them. So I have decided to take matters into my own hands. You will be able to post your top ten of each monthly list and at the end of each month, I will comprise the total list to give you the countdown for that subject. Look for each new subject on the first day of each month, and the final list of the previous month by the fifteenth.

Otherwise, it is very nice to have you a part of this experience, and I look forward to all of our future posts together.

The Common Fight

We face this situation together.
There is no way we can reach victory
If we do not look out for each other
By protecting common territory.
I know we live in the land of the free
And our beliefs need to be respected,
But my right to freedom ceases to be
When simple courtesy is neglected.
These are the rights afforded to all men
To feel safe while walking down the street,
But this allotment begins to end when
My rights and your comfort start to compete.
It comes down to a simple thing to ask,
Have the decency to please wear a mask.

Greatest Hits

In life, sometimes you need a vacation
Where you do not witness anything new.
You need to fulfill your relaxation,
And to make sure the surprises are few.
You know spots where they treat you like a king,
Ready to serve your favorite meals.
You won’t engage in any sightseeing
Or search out the touristy appeals.
You’ll surround yourself with the familiar
As you walk down paths you’ve walked down before.
The last time you were here, they were a blur,
But this time around, you know what’s in store.
You know that the short time only permits
You to revisit all your greatest hits.

Toby’s – A Breakfast Story

The French toast with a side of bacon

I recently talked about my staycation to downtown Bangkok being like a greatest hits album where I didn’t take any pictures because I have been to all the places I went to before. Therefore, it was pointless to take pictures because I was already so familiar with these places. But there was one place that I do want to talk about, Toby’s. I have never been here for dinner, and I have heard that they have some amazing Italian food, but I have been here a couple of times for breakfast, and it might be one of the best places for breakfast that I have ever been to.

How do I describe it? To go back to the analogy of a greatest hits album, there is always one song on it that stands out above all the rest. Yes, you still love all of the songs on the album, but there is the one song that everybody gravitates to. It is that band’s best of their best. It is the “Satisfaction”, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Joker” on the album. And this is what Toby’s is.

Toby’s is a small restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 38 and you really have to have your eyes open to see the place or you can easily drive past it. But there are hints that you are close. There is usually a group of people gathered outside waiting to get one of the few tables the place has. Cars are collected on this sleepy street near to the entrance of the place. And your stomach will start growling because it knows the treat that it is about to experience.

The bacon platter with eggs done over medium

And yes, this place is worth searching for when you are hunting down a good brunch. The food is fresh and obviously prepared there. Most of the time, the dishes come with a selection of fresh fruit, unless you get the bacon platter (yes, they have a platter dedicated totally to different kinds of bacon), and this still comes with a bacon jam that I would recommend smearing all over the two eggs that come with the dish. But the best dish that they have for breakfast has to be the French toast. I have always enjoyed this dish and I have had some amazing versions of it, but the one here is made with crumpled corn flakes that gives it a crunchy coating that is so good. And instead of topping it with butter, they give you a scoop of vanilla ice cream that makes this entre more of a dessert that you will come back to time and time again.

It was the perfect spot to complete my greatest hits tour. It filled me up with the great food that this city has to offer before sending me back home and the reality of life. I will come back again someday, but for now this was a great way to enjoy a weekend in Bangkok.

Vacation’s Greatest Hits

It hit me last night at dinner that I had only taken one picture during this trip. Usually I am looking for great moments as I experience them, but I never even really thought about pulling out my phone and taking some pictures. It took me a moment to think about why this was, but it came to me as I took another delicious piece of sushi to dip into my soy sauce and wasabi mixture. I had done all of this before.

Don’t get me wrong. It is really nice to get out of my usual routine and go some place where I usually don’t hang out, but going twelve kilometers away to where the big building I usually see in the distance is not really getting away. It is more like making things a little more convenient for me as I go to the places where I really like to go in this city. And that is exactly what I did. I had bar-b-q at the Smokin’ Pug, lunch at Dim Ti Fung, and dinner at my favorite sushi place downtown. I did nothing new on this little excursion. Does that mean that I am getting into a rut and I can’t find anything exciting in life anymore? Should I blame it on Covid and the fact that my options have been limited? Should I push myself in the future to make sure I make the most out of every moment in my life?

Does it really matter if I am still enjoying myself?

I compare it to a concert I went to during my high school years at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Steve Miller had dusted off his guitar and took it on tour that summer, and considering my love for Classic Rock at the time, I just had to see him. It was a great show, and I had a lot of fun singing along to all of the songs that I was extremely familiar with. But there was nothing profound about what I saw there. He played every song off of his Greatest Hits album, and even hit a few songs that was on his other Greatest Hits album that not as many people listen to, but they still know the songs. He played for an hour and afterwards, I was always able to say that I saw the Steve Miller Band once in my lifetime.

Does the fact that he did not push the boundaries mean that it was a bad show? I don’t think so. These are the songs that people cherish, and it makes them happy to hear them. They go to the concert to hear those songs, and they would be disappointed if he decided to play some deep tracks instead. Yes, I do not claim it to be one of the best concerts I have ever seen, but it was still a good time, and I do have a couple of fond memories from the night. The same goes for this trip downtown. No, I will not be raving about my experience for years to come. I won’t even have pictures to look back as mementos. I did not do anything spectacular, but that does not mean that it wasn’t worth my time. Sometimes, it is okay to go back to those comforts, and enjoy the experience without worrying about taking a dozen pictures in the meantime.

It might not be the best trip, but I still had a good time, and I will walk away with a couple of fond memories from the experience.

I guess that is what the greatest hits are all about.

When People Leave Downtown, That’s the Time To Go

Travel during the times of Covid-19 is tough. Everybody knows that making those trips that you have always wanted to go on, and seeing those countries that you have always wanted to see has to be put on hold for a little while until we can work this thing out. But that does not mean that travel is gone altogether. It just means that those epic trips need to be replaced by simpler excursions to check out that part of the world where you live. Luckily, I found myself in a place that I did not know a lot about, and this gave me the opportunity to dig in deep into the country I reside, Thailand. And considering that it has been over a hundred days since there has been a new case of the disease originating within the country, it means that a lot of places are now available for us.

This weekend was the best weekend to get out of my hood and check out a different part of the city of Bangkok. The reason being is the government declared it to be a four day weekend to make up for the lost holiday week of Songkron that was supposed to happen way back in April. Because of this new holiday, many people have packed up their cars and headed to the various beach resorts in the country. I, on the other hand, took the other approach. I went to the place where nobody would be. I didn’t feel like fighting the crowds amongst the sand and surf, or jostle for a place at one of the bars or restaurants in Thailand’s most famous tourist spots. I instead decided to go downtown to enjoy the open streets and reduction of traffic.

It was a great choice. I now have access to some of the best restaurants this country has to offer, and I don’t have to wait to get a seat at any of them. I was also able to find a really great deal at one of the premiere hotels in one of the premiere spots downtown that allowed me comfort without breaking my bank account. I am also going to get to enjoy a relaxing weekend while checking out parts of the downtown area that I have not seen yet. It was an easy choice to make and so far, it has paid off. Granted, it is a quick little jaunt, but what more could I ask for a weekend? I am not stuck in a long line of traffic, hoping to grab a moment in a place that is overcrowded because everybody had the same idea to vacation in the same place at the same time. Instead, I go where I know where they will not be and suddenly find the place to myself.

I am starting to think this is how I should spend every holiday weekend. It is by far the best way to experience a part of the country I have not seen yet.

 

Conventional Lies

I can explain what you are doing is wrong
Because I am a million miles away.
I have learned from my life as a farang*
The downfall of the American way.
You do not see because you are so close
To the mess that is being created.
Your rhetoric is nothing but verbose
And nothing real is being debated.
When you spend all of your time bickering
About the better ideology,
The hope of the nation is flickering
To hold on to its true philosophy.
Problems are not solved by waving your flags,
But solutions through compromising tags.

*farang – Thai word for foreigner

Sunday’s Coffee

Today, there is no need for me to rush.
I’ll take advantage of this to move slow.
It may not mirror a life that is plush,
But too often these moments come and go
To be thrust back into a frantic pace.
I’ll stand at the window with my coffee,
Watching the sun climb in its morning race,
Knowing there is no place I need to be.
In a big city full of distraction,
Always begging for you to do something,
I will take the opposite reaction,
And fill up my schedule with nothing.
Tomorrow returns to reality;
Today I’m taking what’s in front of me.

The Unavoidable Road

We’re always going back where we started from
No matter how much we fight against fate.
The whole of our parts is measured by some,
Only so there are more who can relate.
If we feel like we have been here before,
It’s because there is truth to that answer,
And when we leave through the same, exact door,
We will come back again just to make sure.
The road may surprise us with its winding,
Leading us to a new destination,
But when we reach the end, we’ll be finding,
We called ahead for the reservation.
Life does not give originality;
It just rehashes what we always see.

Fighting the Riptide

The water rushes from under my legs,
Taking me closer to the rising wall.
I fight against winding up in the dregs,
Hoping the wave doesn’t cause me to fall.
I run to it with reckless abandon,
Building up bravery against the tide.
With my head high to show I’m having fun,
I prepare a bear hug with hands out wide.
After the two stubborn forces collide,
One is beaten down by the other’s might,
Leaving it up for nature to decide
Who will be crowned the victor in this fight.
It may look like I am the one losing,
But I come back due to my own choosing.

A Note about Travel Now – Siam Summer

I have struggled with whether I should be writing this blog about the time I have spent in downtown Bangkok right now. There are many countries in the world that are still under lockdown and many place are only starting to open their doors back to the world to see what it is like out there. A bunch of uncertainty hangs in the air about what will happen next and whether it is safe to go out and enjoy life again. Bangkok is also going through this. They just happen to be a little ahead of other countries with getting back to a daily hustle and bustle, yet there is still a long way to go. There have been a lot of question bouncing around the back of my mind as I wonder who stayed in this place before us, whether the places I have been going to have been taking it seriously, and why do some people believe they are above common safety reason by walking around without a mask. It makes me wonder if we are safe by doing this.

Then I think about the other side of it. Why am I living overseas? I am here to experience other cultures, and travel and see the world. It is the main reason that we made this choice, and if I spend all of that time in a little house looking out at my mango tree and waiting for a soi dog to walk down my street, I am not really living the life that I wanted to. I know that there are many people out there thinking the same way as they spend another day in quarantine, and it would not matter where I was in the world, but I would have to go through the same kind of experience of staying indoors. Though some people might believe otherwise, this is not a problem that is isolated to one country; it is a worldwide problem. It is just some countries did a better job of handling the problem than others, and if I am living in one of those countries, should I take advantage of it?

Thailand is one of those countries that did a great job of containing this virus. It is not completely under control yet. There are still cases popping up daily, but they are so minor, the biggest spike being 17 people one day in the last couple of week with it usually being under five people daily, that it would seem silly to keep a population of people at bay. Like I have been talking about in my last posts, it is not completely opened up yet, but there are opportunities out there, and as long as I take reasonable precautions, I can enjoy my time out here, and still feel safe.

But this is not the worry that I have while writing this blog. My thought is about all of those people who are reading this still stuck at home while I am out there enjoying life again. I know that I have a lot of readers in America and they have been going in and out of quarantine. I understand your suffering because just like many other people in the world, I have gone through the same experience. It was not fun, and the walls of my place started to beat down upon me and I felt like I would never leave that place. But the time I spent in near isolation paid off as the causes of the disease died down and Thailand is now a safer place to live in. Yes, there are a couple of inconveniences. I have to wear a mask when I go out and I have to be aware of my proximity to other people. They ask that I check in as I go into stores so if there is an outbreak they can contact me about the way I have been exposed, but this is a minor problem compared to the bigger ones that could happen if I contract the disease. It is then that I become a danger to other people, and I do not know if I could have that responsibility on my conscience.

This whole summer has been great to see Thailand without all of the tourists. I have been lucky that way, despite the fact that things were not always open the way that they usually are. I know people are suffering right now, but it is nice to see that things are starting to turn around for them, and the economy is starting to pick up again. But know that just like you, it has not been an easy journey, and they is still a long way to go to fully recover from this. But they understand that everything is very fragile right now, and another outbreak could cause everybody to revert back to the devastating lifestyle we had to endure earlier this year. I hope that never happens, but I am also doing my part to prevent this for coming back as well.

I guess the reason that I wrote about my travels this summer was not to cause you frustration and anger because somebody was able to do something that you were not, but instead I wished to give you hope and inspiration that if you do the right thing, that travel could be in your life again as well. It may not look the way that you had thought it would, and many opportunities might not be available to you, but make the most out of the situation, and you will still find that life can be rewarding. Just know that it will happen again someday, but until then, do you part to help mitigate the problem and you will enjoy that reward even more when you finally achieve it.