Monday, October 6, 2008

This is not a plastic bag...

Nothing especially interesting happened today. More classes, more experiments in ordering food.

Good lord... this is my #1 piece of advice for anyone even remotely interested in traveling abroad: STUDY THE FOOD! Know the words (spoken and in writing) for your basic food products chicken, fish, rice, bread, vegetables, spicy, etc. And learn as much about the cuisine as you can. If there's something they eat that you never want to see on a plate - know the word so you can watch out for it (lest you repeat the unfortunate Andouilette experience I had in Paris). I managed fine in Chiang Mai because the restaurants either had menus in English or pictures... but in Rayong, I eat the same 4 meals every day... or I leave it up to chance and let them recommend something. Today I had Dtom Yam - a soup seasoned with lemon grass and kefir lime leaves. It was delicious, but the pork in it was still on the bone so I was picking it apart as I was eating it. Weird. Tasty, but weird. Oh and tonight I thought I learned how to ask for veggies and rice, but somehow there were noodles involved. I have no clue what I actually ordered. It was pretty good.

ANYWAY, nothing especially interesting happened today so I thought I'd dig up one of the topics suggested earlier... Environmental Awareness in Thailand. It's a mixed bag, so I'll just share a few observations.

1. Plastic bags. Every time I buy something, it gets put in at least one plastic bag. When I bought fruit from the guy across from my school in Chiang Mai he would put the sliced fruit in a clear plastic bag, then attempt to put that bag in a mini-shopping bag with handles. Even if I just buy one thing - it goes into a plastic bag. I don't know the words for "no bag" so I motion the best I can and sometimes get them to hand over my stuff without the extra bag. The ironic thing is that there are signs in stores that say "Say no to plastic bags!" and the Top Foods market sold canvas grocery bags as a replacement for plastic. Oh, and I've seen a few people with big shoulder bags that say in English "This is not a plastic bag." So the awareness is there, but it's not totally incorporated into everyday life yet.

2a. Recycling - bottles/cans. I think I've only seen one or two bottle/can recycling bins in Thailand. I asked someone at my apartment in Chiang Mai and he said to leave my bottles next to the trash, that the cleaning lady can take them in for money. I did this for a few weeks, but then noticed one day that the bottles I'd carefully bagged up and set beside the trash bin were *in* the trash bin. So I have no idea if they were ever recycled or not. I got the same story here in Rayong - the cleaning lady can turn them in for money. But there's not a separate place to put them, so it all just goes in the trash.

2b. Recycling - paper products. At both the school in Chiang Mai and the school here they are very good about reusing printer/copier paper. There are signs that say "No Wasting Paper." and "Reusing is good, using less is better." by the copy machine. There's also a tray next to the copier where you can put paper that's only been printed on one side. I use this paper whenever I'm making copies for myself. When I copy for the students though, I use new paper. Outside the school however, I haven't seen a place to recycle papers.

3. Global Warming. People are very much aware of the problem of global warming. I've seen a few different slogans on t-shirts and bags. I did a practic lesson in Chiang Mai on "50 years in the future" and with regards to the environment one group predicted that most of southern Thailand would be flooded, so the population would have to move inland. In another lesson, we asked the students to describe their dream car and most described an electric car or one with 'zero emissions' (the students knew the concept in Thai and asked specifically how to say it in English). However, there's horrible, absolutely HORRIBLE polution in the cities here. I have no idea what, if any, emissions standards there are now, but if you're in traffic for any amount of time, the exhaust fumes become overwhelming. After a few weeks in Chiang Mai I developed a cough that I feel confident I can blame on riding in open Songthaews on a busy road everyday. The cough went away after a week in Rayong, but came back after *one* day in Bangkok. I've seen many people wearing surgical masks while riding their motorbikes. The traffic police have special mini-gas-mask type things they wear. It's a bit scary actually. So again, the awareness is there... but it doesn't seem to be reflected in day-to-day life.

I haven't seen or heard much about organic foods or products, but that might be because I don't know the word for it... same with compost. So it's a bit of a mixed bag... much like in the US I guess.

TAG - Code Mango... everything's fine and I had a nice chat with one of the other teachers today. =)


Yankee in England said...

Okay so absent mindly on day when asked how I was I replied its a code mango day. They looked at me kind of funny but it caught on. Now code mango is sinonimous(sorry that spelling sucked hooked on phonics worked for me) with good! Never thought you would have an impact on the English language did ya. I can see it in the Oxford dictionary in 10-20 years!

Bezzie said...

Very interesting! I think what interests me the most is--why does th ecleaning lady get the money from your bottles? Six year in Michigan will do that where each bottle/can is like a dime!

Rebel said...

Yankee- I'm delighted!!!

bezzie - Mai bpen rai.... I'm not going to get fussed if the cleaning lady gets a few extra baht each day. She probably doesn't get paid nearly as much as she deserves to.

Chance said...

I am just enjoying the Thai edition so much. What a wonderful cultural adventure you're having!