Thursday, February 23, 2012

Phuket is not a vulgar city!
Day 61 of our Southeast Asia Odyssey

OK, let's be clear about one thing. You pronounce Phuket like this:  pooh-KETT.  It's funny (to me) that it hadn't even occurred to me that people unfamiliar with it initially read it as f**k it. Ha ha and all, but the first time someone posted a wisecrack about pronouncing it that way, it took me a while to figure out what they were saying. I guess I've just thought of it as (winnie-the-)pooh-KETT or the somewhat mispronounced foo-KETT for as long as I've known of its existence.

Anyway, here's what I think about Phuket, which everyone is now saying correctly in their heads as they read this, right? I think Phuket is awesome. I rather enjoy living in Phuket town, and I am sad that our CELTA course and therefore our time here are coming to an end.

Brian and I chose Phuket as the place to get our CELTA teaching qualification because we had our eyes on Thailand for cheap living and beach proximity during the four-week course. It has worked out great. Because there are two of us splitting the rent, we were able to snag a pretty nice accommodation (no SE Asia backpacker flophouse for us) with a lovely pool and a cute room with a balcony. I highly recommend Baan Suwantawe's monthly room rental to anyone coming to Phuket town.

Also, there is absolutely no shortage of restaurants in this little city. Within walking distance we have oodles of noodles, roti, dim sum, curries, fried chicken, rice, pad thai, tom yum (sp?) and Phuket specialties and pork and appetizers and soups and that's not even mentioning the coffee shops and plentiful Western food, this being a travelers' destination and all. We eat out cheaply and deliciously for all our meals (even though we do have a refrigerator and microwave in the Baan Suwantawe room) and we spend like $2-5 per meal. It's so great to be in southeast Asia.

Unfortunately, despite how great it is to be in Southeast Asia, we are in fact almost done with our time in Phuket. We will not stay in this city teaching right at the moment, although I could possible end up back here in the future. We are looking at a few job opportunities and think a different country is on the horizon. (Well, obviously, there are many countries on the horizon, if you want to look at it literally, but you know what I mean.)

Meanwhile, we have one more weekend to enjoy the beaches of Phuket. We spend Monday-Friday in Phuket town, and on Saturdays and Sundays we head to the water. We have enjoyed the beaches of Patong, Karon, Kata, Nai Harn, and glimpses of Rawai, plus a boat trip to Ao Phang Nga and "James Bond Island."  We have looked up at the Big Buddha on the mountaintop and looked out at the sunset from Phromthep Cape. All in all, I give Phuket two thumbs up, and there is nothing whatsoever f**k-it about the place! Well, except for the occasional cockroach that stampedes across the sidewalk at night, coming awfully close to my flip-flop bared feet. But at least there are a few lizards scurrying around to make up for it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston and Madonna
and the answers are all up to me

I remember the 1980s. The morning after Whitney Houston's death, I spent our entire breakfast remembering the 80s to Brian, who sometimes remembers a bit less about the 80s than I do. Here's one thing I remember about the 80s: "Whitney/Madonna." Notice how I put them together, there. Obviously they are such different people with such different styles of music and life and all that. HOWever, those of us who remember the 80s remember the slash, the Whitney/Madonna talk, the incessant marveling at how there could be not one but two chart-topping ladies with a bazillion hits. In some ways, Whitney and Madonna together were the entirety of valuable pop radio in the 80s, if you keep all the new wave and alterna-pop that people so often think of when thinking of 80s music in the alternative category, and if you don't place a lot of value on Michael Jackson, who was the other big thing in 80s pop radio, as dictated by Billboard. (Oh, wait, that's just me who doesn't care about the MJ.) Anyway, so, Madonna and Whitney. Yeah.

As Brian and I breakfasted, I prattled on about my early cassette buying: Madonna's Like a Virgin was my first - no, really - but I also bought Whitney, probably from Columbia House Record & Tape club. Over egg and roti pancake I happily recalled Whitney's sassy one-raised-shoulder pose in the white tank top on that cassette's cover, and the Olympic single "One Moment in Time" (which, I might add, I belted screeched out at a noraebang in Korea last summer). And then it hit me: could it be that Whitney, too, had the 1980s Madonna/Whitney hype-pressure on the brain this week?  Madonna just performed at the Super Bowl and ignited the blogosphere with her 53-year-old-and-still-performing-ness. Many people loved her show. The whole world was watching, as it were. That world could have included Whitney. It's kind of like a high school reunion or something, no?  I am not being snarky or trying to make light of that -- I know that the pressure of an upcoming high school reunion can be too much for someone to handle.

Such an in-your-face reminder of all that you were can make you question where you are now, and when such a mighty incessant comparison is thrown back in your face in a new way, maybe it can wreak havoc on a person's psyche?  I actually don't know the details of the death, but whether it was suicide, drugs, or both, it was probably her self-destruction, right? As we walked back from breakfast this morning, I said, "It's as if Madonna killed Whitney -- but I don't mean that -- but maybe the Tweets about Madonna killed Whitney?"

I'm so sad to think of someone being so distraught about not measuring up, by real or imagined standards, that she would be driven to take her own life, but I know it has happened. And I find this a bizarre ending to  the life of Whitney "Didn't we almost have it all?" Houston.

I think the "One Moment in Time" lyrics are the most appropriate, actually, for all of us to remember...seriously, go listen to it.

Rest in peace, obviously, of course. Would that the peace could also be found during our lifetimes.