My brief sojourn in Bangkok, like my quick visit to Latin America, highlighted some of the issues I struggle with off and on. One evening I went out with a group of embassy folks, and they talked about the difficulties of hiring a maid from the Philippines because of visa issues; on another evening I was at an English pub with my colleagues when I realized that I was the only Asian woman who wasn't a "professional."
During meetings I gravitated toward the French woman from UNICEF and the Senegalese public health specialist, not the Filipinos. When I was at church I didn't know whom to sit with: the Americans who weren't sure I was American until I opened my mouth? The Filipino ladies who looked so proud of me? Or the Congolese refugees who were relieved to find someone to speak with?
And all the Thais spoke to me in Thai, and found it completely normal that I would be walking around with older white men.
I'm sure I'll be back in Bangkok, but I'm not sure I'll ever figure this out.