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phoot Thai mai dai

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"I don't speak Thai." Les than 24 hours in Bangkok and I've already learned to say that, because everyone addresses me in Thai. I once vowed (after a trip to Istanbul) that I would only visit countries that speak languages I know, and in countries where I stick out, but obviously I can't be picky for work.

I spent most of my 24 hours in Korea asleep. When I was nine years old we took Korean Airlines to the Philippines, and the flight attendants changed into the traditional costumes midway. They didn't do that this time, but it was still cool. I felt with Korean the same way I felt with Portuguese - the cadences were familiar (after four years of studying Japanese) but I couldn't understand anything. Plus people kept talking to me in Korean too.

Identity issues are always on my mind in some form or another (heaven help our Filipino-American-Moroccan-Berber-French-speaking kids) but this trip has highlighted them even more. While in the immigration line in the Incheon airport an older Korean lady holding an American passport turned around and asked me a question in Korean. And then today walking from the office to the hotel I passed by a small street market where I was too shy and too mute, and in the end, too invisible, to try to buy a bag of papaya. Whereas anywhere in Africa I would've plunged right in.
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[User Picture]
On February 2nd, 2009 07:02 am (UTC), mysteena commented:
My best friend in China was Filipino-American. She was the Anthropology professor's wife and we always went shopping together. Because she was Asian, although certainly not Chinese in appearance, people always tried to talk to me through her. We'd just look at each other and shrug. She did grasp the language much more quickly than I did, so often I turned to her as well. Everyone would be standing around waiting for her to translate. Poor Mariannette.

I never had that problem. The reverse actually: people'd be shocked when I could speak a bit of Chinese. I hope you enjoy your trip so very much!!
[User Picture]
On February 3rd, 2009 07:31 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:

I was just in a meeting where I spent more time talking in French to the Swiss lady than to anyone else. :/
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