social issues

Blue coffee mug Coffee at Rocket cafe in Bangkok

Bangkok in contrasts

Bangkok is changing very rapidly, just like any other major city in Asia. The interesting thing about Bangkok is that you’ll find areas that have become something entirely cosmopolitan overnight next to others that aren’t changing at the same rate (or at all).

Two sides, same coin

Two sides of a lightrail train station in central Bangkok
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Girl holding sparkler

HOoray, I’m thirty! Let’s make shit happen!

Last week…it happened…I turned 30 years of age. Here’s my crack at thirties life advice. Ha!

Nothing special happened, and the next day my country recognized same-sex marriage as a right, so my birthday became even more of a non-event. I don’t mind.

If my Facebook feed could be this full of people celebrating something this wonderful all the time, I would be happy forever.

I’ve never really celebrated my birthday, and I generally don’t like being the center of attention. I even felt somewhat of a twinge of selfishness when planning a small outing for my 30th birthday with a handful of friends and my sister.
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Sunset over the ocean

Young white male asks me for money. Thoughts on #whiteprivilege from a tropical island

I feel like I almost got scammed. I was waiting to get on the ferry off of the island in Thailand to make my way back to Bangkok to catch a flight.

While sitting on a bench, a young white male comes up to me and starts talking to me. At first I don’t understand what he saying, partly because he has an accent and partly maybe because he was speaking quickly. He repeated himself, “Could you give me 100 baht for the ferry…”

My gut immediately refused him. I said I’m sorry but I don’t have any change. Sure, 100 Thai baht is little more than 3 US dollars, but I didn’t feel compelled to give this young white guy my money. Why should I when this person, just by luck of birth, has all the advantages in the world. Why should I, a young, poor, female, minority (in my country) student, give him, a young, seemingly healthy, white, man, my money?
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Feet in yellow shoes tiled floor Taking a look at myself

Women wear what they want to in Singapore, or How awesome it is that there is no catcalling in Singapore

Sure, you have heard that Singapore is a safe and clean city. Or that it’s the most expensive city in the world to live in. (This is mostly skewed by the price of cars, which are not essential, but that is another story.) But what you may not know is that women wear what they want to in Singapore. It’s remarkable, and simultaneously a sign of old stereotypes/gender roles and a sign of hope in the face of gender issues in Singapore. There are a few things that I really like and admire about Singapore, and this is one of them.

The recent video of a woman walking in New York City has gone viral because it shows just how much harassment a woman can receive just by walking around in NYC. I’m glad that they are drawing attention to this issue, because this is at the root of what I don’t like about NYC. Catcalling is nonexistent in Singapore, which one reason why I think women can have the freedom to dress as they wish.
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Hug deprived in Singapore

Me and my roomie hugging at our '60s party

Me and my roomie hugging at our ’60s party

Hugs are great! Give me hugs!!

More hugs please!

One thing I wish was different about Singapore is that friends hugged each other more often. This is just part of Singapore culture. When I went back to the USA for 3 months earlier this year, I really liked hugging friends again, either when we first saw each other or when we’re parting ways. It isn’t a big deal, but no one does that in Singapore.
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On not freaking out when all your friends are getting engaged or having babies

I’m a few short years away from turning 30, and it seems I’ve entered the time span where all my Facebook feed seems to be dominated by is posts about engagements, weddings and babies. It has been like this for probably a year or more, but wasn’t so apparent until a few months ago when at least 5 or 6 people got engaged within about a 2 week period.

With this, I’ve come to realize that I’m not that close to contributing to Facebook feeds of my friends in this fashion, and I’m ok with that. I’m better than ok; I’m pretty good! My life is not devoid of happy events and especially not jewelry which I don’t care to wear. I’m in no way less “complete” and don’t feel like I’m “behind” in any way. Life events aren’t necessarily following a particular sequence (except for getting older and other time related phenomena). Continue Reading

Sunset in Port Barton, Palawan, The Philippines

How to travel to a place that just had a natural disaster?

Last Wednesday night before I left for the Philippines, I had a think about if I should really be going. Considering that they were just hit 6 days before by Typhoon Haiyan aka Yolanda, I got on my flight with mixed feelings.

It may come as a surprise that our ultimate tournament in Manila scheduled for the weekend right after the typhoon didn’t get cancelled, but I’m glad that I at least was able to bring clothes and money to donate to people who are recovering. The tournament organizers rallied all tournament goers to bring donations of food, clothes, supplies, and of course money. There were teams and players coming from different parts of the Philippines, Singapore, China, USA, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and probably other countries that I’ve missed. One Singaporean team gathered about 450 kg of donations to bring over! I’m not sure how much was donated in total in the end, but will update here if/when I find out. Continue Reading

Leaving Sakaerat today…and some thoughts on meeting Americans abroad

Chewy in Sakaerat

I’m leaving Sakaerat today! I’m a bit sad to go, definitely because the people here have been great and the nature and wildlife have been amazing. I wish I could come back, and I’m glad that I came. The colleague I came to visit has some really impressive research going on here, and I’m glad that I got to go out and search for her study species (Chiromantis hansenae) with her field team.
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Rethinking worldliness

What would you do if a gang of monkeys threw coins at you? How would you escape out of a bus if it fell on its side during a rainstorm? I thought about these on my trip to India. In mid-2012, I was lucky enough to be sent off to India for work purposes, and was able to take vacation days to stay around after the meetings and see more than just the inside of a hotel.

At the airport, the hotel had sent 2 people to pick me up. We arrived in the perfectly luxurious hotel, tucked away from the center of Delhi. Meetings are what they are, but it was interesting to experience the biggest blackout in Indian history that took out most of Northern India but also be minimally affected by it. It is easy to complain. The elevators were not working. The lights flickered. The A/C turned off in the middle of the night. But in the bigger picture of things, many more people suffered much more devastating results. Continue Reading