March 28, 2005: Headlines: COS - Thailand: Reverse Culture Shock: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Personal Web Site: Michael Jacobs in Kyrgyz Republic - Coming out of my "post"-Soviet haze in Bangkok

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Culture, Culture Shock, Reverse Culture Shock: March 28, 2005: Headlines: COS - Thailand: Reverse Culture Shock: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Personal Web Site: Michael Jacobs in Kyrgyz Republic - Coming out of my "post"-Soviet haze in Bangkok

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Michael Jacobs in Kyrgyz Republic - Coming out of my "post"-Soviet haze in Bangkok

 Michael Jacobs in Kyrgyz Republic -  Coming out of my post-Soviet haze in Bangkok

Michael Jacobs in Kyrgyz Republic - Coming out of my "post"-Soviet haze in Bangkok

Coming out of my "post"-Soviet haze in Bangkok

Sawat dii khrap. The flight into Tashkent from Bishkek was relatively uneventful. The Uzbeks took me for a Turk because I speak Kyrgyz. No one ever thinks that I am American in Central Asia. I always seem to get Turkish or German. I somehow took the wrong train to another part of the airport. The immigration people had to call for a whole bus to usher me over to the international terminal. I had a six hour layover that didn't feel like six hours. I realized that my sense of time has been distorted by the perennial tea time of the Kyrgyz village. My patience and ability to simply mindlessly sit around have expanded to the point that six hours felt like three or maybe two. I even sat and drank tea and watched Animal Planet dubbed over with Russian about this obssessive-compulsive husband-wife who raise Bengal tigers in Missouri.

I spent most of this morning and afternoon after arriving in Thailand utterly speechless. My thoughts that the world has gone on without me: fashion, technology, civilization, has been true all along. I didn't even know how to relate to people in Bangkok to get directions around for the first part of the day. Transitioning from a Kyrgyz village with about two or three-thousand people (if even that) to Bangkok has required me to return to a hardened self. I had to remember to look ahead and not make eye contact or gawk at the newest trends on sixteen year olds. People in Thailand are so rad. Everyone is smiling and laughing. I have been sweating all day and walking around in the sun. I found an excellent used book store near my hotel where I picked up a Lonely Planet guide to Bangkok for two bucks. Seeing the Americans here has been freaky. I have kept my mouth quiet to avoid having to talk to Americans. Most of the Americans that I have seen are of the type where the couple wears the same khakis, obnoxiously white tennis shoes, and fill their Hawaiian t-shirts like brautwurst in an expanding pig's intestine. Sweaty, pompous, loud, ugly Americans. I had one of the best plates of food in my entire life at a local cafe for a dollar (40 bhat) this morning. I made my way to the Golden Mount which provides a spectacular view of the city via bus. I made an offering of incenses and a lotus flower to the Buddhas and sat in meditation for some time, unfolding and releasing some of the stresses and delusions of the past few months. I am planning to meet up with a Thai Buddhist monk either tomorrow or the next day for some meditation guidance. They are free and offered throughout the city almost everyday. Buddhism compliments and enhances my yoga practice.

The immensity of the city remains unfathomable to me. I am sitting in an internet cafe with nearly a hundred people who are screaming in Thai about some psychotic, everyone-has-a-submachine-gun up computer game that they are all hooked on. The anonymity is familiar and comforting. Almost every place I have walked around today has provided something related to Buddhism, health, including massage (the real ones, not prostitutes), various apothecaries, Hindu temples, and everything else that makes life worth living. The enormity of the temples and their austerity causes me to stand in awe. Again, I found myself frequently breathless and confused at how a place like this could really exist.

I saw McDonalds and one of the metro stations unloaded me into a department store. I literally felt like a martian. I don't even understand these places anymore. A Starbuck's presence in the center of the city pained me. I will probably go out and see a show or have a drink tonight. I have my appointment tomorrow with the doctor. I plan to just keep writing on this one blog. Internet is cheap here. I will try to write again tomorrow after my appointment. -MJ





When this story was posted in March 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:


Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand Date: March 20 2005 No: 530 Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand
After the Tsunami in Southeast Asia last December, Peace Corps issued an appeal for Crisis Corps Volunteers and over 200 RPCVs responded. The first team of 8 Crisis Corps volunteers departed for Thailand on March 18 to join RPCVs who are already supporting relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and India with other agencies and NGO's.

This Month's Feature Stories - only on PCOL Date: March 27 2005 No: 537 This Month's Feature Stories - only on PCOL
Dream Come True - Revisiting India after 34 years
The Coyne Column: Read Winning Vanity Fair PCV Essay
Tomas Belsky's paintings inspired by service in Brazil
RPCV reunites with friend after 40 years
RPCV reviews "Los Heraldos Negros" by Cesar Vallejo
Photo Essay: Taking it to the Streets


March 26, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: March 26 2005 No: 532 March 26, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
PCVs in Kyrgyz Republic Are Safe 25 Mar
The Coyne Column: A Good Friday Message 25 Mar
Frederic Zenhausern developing "biometric bodysuits" 24 Mar
Robert Blackwill calls for US co-operation with India 23 Mar
Margaret Krome promotes alternate crops 23 Mar
Al Kamen says allies disappointed in World Bank 23 Mar
Ambassador Randall L. Tobias speaks at PC 22 Mar
Becky Binns helps organize 30-hour fast 22 Mar
Fred Poses meets with Vice-Premier in China 22 Mar
John Hoff unionizes substitute teachers in Hawaii 21 Mar
Bill Moyers takes time to "sit and vegetate" 21 Mar
Tony Hall says Ethiopia may need more food aid 21 Mar
Taylor Hackford's 'Ray' wins four NAACP Image Awards 21 Mar
PCV seeks tap shoes for students in Moldova 20 Mar
Adam Donaldson learns to believe in Baltimore 20 Mar
Allen Andersson builds libraries in Central America 19 Mar
Senator Sarbanes' quiet leadership will be missed 15 Mar

March 26, 2005: RPCV Groups in the News Date: March 26 2005 No: 534 March 26, 2005: RPCV Groups in the News
Houston RPCVs sponsor "Around the World in a Day"on April 6 25 Mar
Minnesota RPCVs need Photos for Exhibition 24 Mar
Vasquez to visit DePaul University on April 6 22 Mar
New Jersey RPCVs host exhibit in Maplewood on April 2 20 Mar
Maryland RPCVs eat crab cakes in Annapolis 17 Mar
Connecticut RPCVs held fundraiser on March 5 3 Mar
RPCVs: Post your stories or press releases here for inclusion next week.

RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC Date: March 5 2005 No: 482 RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC
RPCVs Sam Farr, Chris Shays, Thomas Petri, James Walsh, and Mike Honda have asked their colleagues in Congress to add their names to a letter they have written to the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee, asking for full funding of $345 M for the Peace Corps in 2006. As a follow-on to Peace Corps week, please read the letter and call your Representative in Congress and ask him or her to add their name to the letter.

Add your info now to the RPCV Directory Date: March 13 2005 No: 489 Add your info now to the RPCV Directory
Call Harris Publishing at 800-414-4608 right away to add your name or make changes to your listing in the newest edition of the NPCA's Directory of Peace Corps Volunteers and Former Staff. Then read our story on how you can get access to the book after it is published. The deadline for inclusion is May 16 so call now.

March 1: National Day of Action Date: February 28 2005 No: 471 March 1: National Day of Action
Tuesday, March 1, is the NPCA's National Day of Action. Please call your Senators and ask them to support the President's proposed $27 Million budget increase for the Peace Corps for FY2006 and ask them to oppose the elimination of Perkins loans that benefit Peace Corps volunteers from low-income backgrounds. Follow this link for step-by-step information on how to make your calls. Then take our poll and leave feedback on how the calls went.
Make a call for the Peace Corps Date: February 19 2005 No: 453 Make a call for the Peace Corps
PCOL is a strong supporter of the NPCA's National Day of Action and encourages every RPCV to spend ten minutes on Tuesday, March 1 making a call to your Representatives and ask them to support President Bush's budget proposal of $345 Million to expand the Peace Corps. Take our Poll: Click here to take our poll. We'll send out a reminder and have more details early next week.


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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Thailand; Reverse Culture Shock; COS - Kyrgyzstan

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