The real Asia. Finally!

Dear France (the country),

I send you my deepest sympathies for your loss in the 2011 Rugby World Cup… as they say, “Second place is the first loser,” so I have little doubt that you are extremely upset. Making matters worse, it seem like you feel the referee treated France unfairly. I hear you say, “What’s the point of playing a match, if the Ref already knows who will win?” The world today is such an unfair place, and since you are French, I can imagine the alleged ‘corruption’ makes you more angry than it would any other nation. May I suggest you have a strike against the South African referee? Practically speaking, it would be best if your people parked their trucks on my peoples railroad tracks. Maybe then you will be listened to.

In all seriousness though, I was amazed with how well you played, and I must admit there wasn’t a second in the game when I didn’t think you could and would win. Also, it’s a shame the last five minutes wasn’t really rugby; otherwise you could have really caused an uproar. Nonetheless, I am glad my glorious nation won! It has been so long since their last success, and it is nice to win during a home game. I’m as happy as the parent of someone who just used a potty for the first time! Go the All Blacks! Go New Zealand! … also congratulations to Australia for winning the ummm what’s it called…Bronze final?

It seemed appropriate to watch the match somewhere French, so it’s just as well I was in the former French colony – Cambodia. Rugby, however, was not the real reason why I travelled to Cambodia. Finally, I was able to see some of the real Asia! This is a extremely special country and I highly recommend that you visit. First, I went to Siem Reap, home to the famous Angkor Wat (Angkor WHO?) temple, and then on to the capital, Phnom Penh – a bustling and exciting city with a dark history. This trip was a bit different than my other trips, as I chose to travel alone, meeting a lot of ‘interesting’ people as a result. My name is Sam Thomson, and this is my story:

Adrenalin was pumping before I even entered Cambodia! I had read a lot about the dodgy Thai-Cambodia border on the internet and I was excited: FINALLY I WOULD NEED TO BRIBE A POLICE MAN! However, the silly boarder-patrol policeman was less adamant about me paying the 100 baht “Visa processing” bribe as I was about not paying it, so I got into the country with a massive three dollars saved. I was gutted; there is nothing like an exciting bribe to make you feel like you’ve left Australia. Before leaving Bangkok, I read that everything was a scam in this area and that you should trust or talk to nobody. For some reason though I thought it’d be a great idea to casually hitch-hike from the bus station to the boarder – luckily I gave a cheeky / flirty smile to the right person, and she was more than willing to take me there for free (a rare offer in Thailand). I think I could have started a Thai family on this occasion if I wanted to, but tonight was not the night. Nonetheless, in true Thai style, right after our introductions, I was asked, “Do you have Facebook?” – who knows, maybe we’ll stay in touch and I can shatter her dreams some other day.

This reminded me of some cultural differences regarding social networking, bringing back happy memories of one particular Thai girl – our conversation went like this:
“Hi. I’m Sam.”
“Hi Sam. Let’s be friends. Do you have Facebook?”
“Yes… Sam Thomson…”
“ Skype?”
“Yes, but ummm errr I don’t use it very often.”
“Black Berry Messenger?”
“Ah, yea, but it’s not common in Australia, so I won’t tell you it.”
“MSN?”
“No, I don’t have it anymore.” (lie)
“ Myspace?”
“No.”
“Google Chat?”
“No.” (lie)
“Whatsapp?”
“No.”
“What’s your phone number?”
“I can’t remember [lie] – can I tell you later? Anyway, what’s your name?”

HOW MANY MEANS OF COMMUNICATION DO WE NEED? The youth of today are unbelievable.

Anyway, at the border there is a fake but very genuine looking place to buy $20 scam Cambodian visas, currency exchange booths which you must be stupid to think the exchange rate is close to acceptable, a thousand tuk-tuk and taxi drivers to take you places that you don’t want to go, and the coolest thing is you can actually walk past the visa patrol and boarder security and into Cambodia without anyone stopping you. I was going for the Police-will-come-and-yell-at-me-when-I’ve-gone-past-the-real-boarder tactic… Apparently not, and I got as far as the bus stop and thought, “Hmm… I should have filled in some forms, plus got a visa and stamp by now… whoopsie.”

Onwards and upwards, I got to Siem Reap, former home of the Khmer Empire – Angkor, Southeast Asia’s largest empire during the 12th Century. After a series of wars, a variety of kings and some infrastructure breakdowns the empire collapsed, leaving the beautiful temples behind… it almost seems like Cambodia hasn’t had peace since. History lesson over, I forgot that this area was a high-risk zone for malaria and had not taken my pills, so mosquito spray was applied like a fat man applies butter to his toast… as they say. Nonetheless, if you want to buy 100 valum pills for $10 without a prescription, this is the place (not that I did it… I just got offered it at a pharmacy). The Angkor area is pretty stunning place, with temples for Africa… or Asia even. The day was spent soaking up the ambience, smelling the history and biking around the Cambodian country side (which was so lush). Check it out for yourself:

Angkor Wat

More Temples

Next it was on to Phnom Penh, a 6-hour journey which was perhaps the highlight of my trip. The bus drove through endless Cambodian villages… as in genuine villages, no make-up. What a cultural delight. The majority of the region was flooded, so it was really interesting to see how the locals reacted. Although their raised-houses were surrounded by deep water, they continued living in them. The kids were swimming around in the flood water. Life seemed normal. In the worst hit areas, people had more or less moved their entire lives onto the road side. From a travellers and photographers perspective, this was awesome. For kilometre after kilometre, the road was lined with cows, chickens, ducks, families in small huts, bikes, and hundreds of people carrying things on their heads. It was pure chaos.

I couldn’t bring myself to feel sorry for what the people were experiencing. I mean, I understand that it must be hard for them, but I didn’t feel anything. Actually, that’s a lie; if I felt something it was a mixture of respect and awe. The spirit seemed high and the people seemed unaffected. As one of my Tuk-tuk drivers said, “They have their family. They have their rice. Nothing else matters. You don’t need money in the country-side.” As long as people have enough food to eat, somewhere to sleep, a family to be with, and clean air to breathe, I generally don’t categorise farmers in the country as ‘living in poverty’. What really upsets me is when I see 7-year-old girls dancing outside of bars like they are pole-dancers, If she’s like that now, what will she be doing in 10 years time?, or when you walk down the street at 2am and a bunch of 5-year-old boys run up to you and start pulling on your clothes, begging for money, Where are their parents? Why aren’t they in bed, asleep?, or when you need to walk through a narrow passage, but must walk over a man with no legs sprawled out over the ground, Why is this the only thing he can do with his life?, or when the government decides to redevelop some land and destroys peoples housing without warning or compensation. Do poor Cambodians even have rights?


Frogs that still croak and leap.

Phnom Penh has a very dark history, and was relatively unstable until 1997. For those of you who slept through social-studies class, the most infamous leader in Cambodia was Pol Pot, who lead the Khmer Rouge army. Attempting to turn Cambodia into a communist nation, he aimed to kill all intellectuals – doctors, lawyers, teachers, artists, writers, business-men… even wearing glasses was enough to warrant execution; anyone who was able to think for themselves was a risk to the new Cambodia. Pol Pot endorsed slogans such as, “It is better to kill an innocent person by mistake, than to let a ‘traitor’ [educated person] run free,” and “To destroy you is no loss, to preserve you is no gain.” All-in-all, his regime killed around a quarter of Cambodia’s population.

In terms of ‘Sight-seeing”, the S21 Prison in Phnom Penh is an old school which Pol Pot converted into torture prison. After going there, seeing photos of tortured-to-death people and seeing blood splattered on the floor and walls, I really got an impression of the pain Cambodian’s suffered. Furthermore, there are the “killing fields” just outside the city, which as the name suggests, are the fields in which the Khmer Rouge killed many people – there are thousands people in mass graves there. It’s also pretty horrific, with teeth and bones scattered on the ground. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the Khmer Rouge is that they couldn’t afford bullets, so all their murders were done through torture, beatings and decapitation. One example of this is the “killing tree” – children were held by their feet and wacked against a tree multiple times before being thrown into the grave.

I have a question for you: for regimes like the Nazi party and the Khmer Rouge, who should be punished / held accountable? Just the leaders of the organisations or the soldiers as well? The Milgrim experiments really made me feel like the soldiers shouldn’t be punished… they were only doing what they were told. But then again, we all need to take responsibility for our actions at some point.

Killing Fields

During this trip I met a few interesting people. One tuk-tuk driver, a 23-year-old Cambodian guy with super English, came and talked with me for two hours. Apart from the usual stuff, he told me about some of the foreigners he’s driven around: a 32-year-old Australian woman who suggested they get married and he moves to Sydney with her, where she earns $80,000 a year; a German man who offered to pay for him to live and study in Germany for three years; and a gay English man who emails him every other day… the tuk-tuk driver said to me: “I’m a bit scared about being friends with him because he is gay. I understand how girls and boys boom-boom. But how do two boys boom-boom?” He was such a nice guy who had such great interpersonal skills; it was sad to know he’ll probably spend too much of his life as a tuk-tuk driver. Then I met a German guy who had a Cambodian girlfriend for 6-weeks. The girlfriend, though, has a western man-friend who sends her lots of money every month. Last week, the German woke up, his girlfriend was gone, and he never heard from her again. Then I met a Nigerian man living in Singapore, with his Chinese wife and 2-year-old daughter. I thought he was really cool, until he said, “Ah, I just went to a bar and asked a girl how much she costs. She said $40. There’s no way I am paying that much – only $20. But I like to really look at the girl before I take her home. Last time I paid $30 and I was not happy with her services.
Umm you have a wife and daughter – don’t be so disgusting. And actually, I need to cancel our dinner plans for this evening.

So as I reflect on my Cambodian trip, I’m truly grateful for having a fortunate upbringing, in a peaceful country with a normal(ish) family. I have to wonder though,  how different would we be if we lived through a war in our countries? Would we be as educated? Would we appreciate lives gifts more? Would we be happier?

You know I love you,

XO XO

P.S. Exams are easy here. I hardly studied and got 86%, 89%, 90%, and 95%. My assignment grades have been good too: 85%, 90%, 100%.

P.P.S. I went out partying last night and kissed two girls.

Oh so pretty!

To the wise man who told me, “Don’t bring in the kitten from the cold if you want a clean couch,”

Boy, oh boy, I have some lush stories for you today. Lately, I’ve been following the advice of the Shabu-shabu tribe, and started “painting my life with rainbows.” In other words, I have tried to experience a diverse range of ‘stuff.’ I’ll tell you about a white-sand island that was blessed with my presence. Furthermore, I hear you want a ‘profile’ of the typical exchange student. Also, there are some nifty sayings that I think you should use with your German friends. Finally, maybe it’s best you don’t come to Thailand at the moment, as it’s raining a lot.

Another island holiday. More beach. More ocean. More sun. More swimming. More relaxing. More beach parties. More mosquito bites… what a life! As they say in Brisbane, “If only that was a Facebook page, we could all ‘like’ it!” My beautiful Swiss friend, Stefanie, and I decided to escape to Koh Samet, a ‘National Park’ island three hours from Bangkok, for a romantic weekend. It is a really beautiful island, which is hard to imagine considering its proximity to such a smelly city! Furthermore, I wrote ‘National Park’ in speech marks to show that in Thailand there is nothing like a cheeky bribe to allow development in a protected area. The highlights included hiking the length of the island (+/-) whilst exploring the beautiful shores, and then kayaking out into the depths of the ocean and swimming with… ourselves! In terms of partying, there is something about dancing on the beach the screams “Freedom” – and I’m not talking about the feeling of freedom when you are swimming naked (although, that did feel good), rather the feeling of freedom I’m sure you have post-shower after hiking through the Peruvian jungle for three days… so fresh! So lush!

The beautiful beach....

Sam and Stefanie!

Of course, since I’m on a cultural exchange, I need to appreciate the life lessons one learns day-to-day. The three key takeaways from this weekend were: 1) Thai dogs lie differently to New Zealand dogs, 2) Developing countries have many more, much larger billboards on their motorways, and 3) When you are on the beach at 4am with someone, be warned of security-guard flashlights, lightning strikes and scary thunder…. in the words of Darren Hayes:

“Breathe in, breathe out, there is no sound,
LIGHTNING FLASH! **BANG, BANG**
We move together up and down
FLASHLIGHT
We levitate, our bodies soar
HUGE LIGHTNING FLASH! **BANG, BANG, BANG** FLASHLIGHT
Our feet don’t even touch the floor.”
LIGHTNING FLASH! *BANG*

The way my dog lay down in New Zealand

The preferred lying position of Thai dogs

With Stefanie and many other exchange students speaking German, I’ve managed to pick up on a bit of the lingo. Many German sayings are so groovy when translated into English! In fact, if you have some German friends, I think they’d really appreciate it if you used the following phrases in context…

Germanlish – English
I’m fox devil wild – I’m really mad
Come on! Jump over your shadow – Be brave
Now it goes around the sausage – It’s crunch time
You walk me animally on the cookie – You are really getting on my nerves
I fell from all clouds – I was really surprised
I think my pig whistles – I cannot believe it
I cannot dare my ears – I cannot believe it
Did you eat a clown for breakfast? – You are being really funny today.
I understand just train station – I don‘t get it
My lovely Mr. Singing Club – Holy moly
I have an ear worm – There is a song stuck in my head.

As you say, LOTI!!! (Laughing on the inside)

But who are these German’s? Who are these exchange students? How do they think? Why are they in Thailand? Questions like this are best answered by reading, “Things Bogans Like.” The term Bogan, however, has many negative connotations, so we will call these young creatures Xcited Exchange Students (XES). And yes, the acronym is sex spelt backwards because that’s what the XES’s are all about. These wild animals, many of whom are experiencing life outside of captivity for the first time, are ready to experience the local cuisine… and when I say cuisine, I’m not talking about a Pad Thai ordered mild from Koh San Road with a bucket of poison and coke. For the boys, it seems none of the female XES’s are that into them. They’ve tried, they’ve failed, and now they’ve moved onto a more ‘cultural’ experience. From what I’ve heard (and I’ve heard some interesting things)… let’s just say there seems to be quite the difference in traditional mating ceremonies between species. For the girls, the XES’s are a bit gross; not quite boyfriend material. But neither are the Thai boys it seems – apparently they just aren’t tall enough and lack that ‘hunter-gatherer’ macho-ness. En fait, I’m constantly reminded of the Wivenhoe Dam here… the pressure and tension is starting to over-flow! Nonetheless, most of the XES’s have received a Thai-tan (i.e. got very sunburnt in that English-person in Turkey kind of way), and can boast a repertoire of experiences such as elephant riding, temple touring, full moon parties, bargaining to save five cents, buying a ‘7-Eleven’ or a ‘Chang Beer’ singlet, and of course, we wouldn’t be in Thailand if someone didn’t get an elephant tattoo when they were drunk – la classe américaine (that’s for you, Dani :-P). Studying, exams and grades are more a complementary part of the exchange, with pretty much everyone who isn’t German feeling quite blasé about school life. But they’re a cool bunch of guys and girls, eager to experience the western-Asia as much as possible (with a little bit of real-Asia).

– It’s really hard to link some topics, so please excuse the awkward jump – Unless you think this is okay:
While you may still be rolling on the floor laughing from the German sayings, some Thai people currently have no dry floor to roll on, and they are not laughing…

Currently there are large floods over South-East Asia. In Thailand, 10 provinces are being evacuated and 260 people have died. The flooding is starting to hit Bangkok, and 700,000 sandbags have been ordered. Having being in Brisbane for the floods in January and now being here, it’s interesting to note the difference in reactions. I can’t tell if it is just because I was more involved in the Brisbane floods, but life in Bangkok seems to be carrying-on as normal. In Brisbane I felt like Queensland closed down for the week and panic was wide-spread. From the photos below (which I stole from the newspaper), you can see how some Thai’s have reacted differently to the situation…

A casual meal in the flood water.

Fanned Elephant Tours Through Flooded Towns-a niche

You know I love you,

XO XO

P.S. Don’t worry, we can still be friends even though Australia will lose against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final. When I tell myself that it’s like charity, I find I still want to talk to you.

... the winners.

Life.

To my wonderfully special cousin, Lucy.

Whoever said exams in Thailand are hard has obviously never done an exam in Thailand. Maybe I speak too soon, as results are yet to be released, but after minimal study Chula’s exams didn’t present themselves as a challenge. In fact, I even had to thank the lecturer of our hardest exam for not insulting our intellect – it felt so good to use my brain again.

The most amusing exam would have to be Industrial and Organisational Psychology. For those of you who I haven’t already told, this teacher has a really ‘different’ teaching style: (i.e. Reading the textbook out. Word-for-word. For three hours. Non-stop. I would upload one of the many videos I have of her, but I don’t want to get into trouble). Our exam included 160 m/c questions and in the week prior to the exam, the lecturer said, “The mid-term is very hard. I will give you some assistance.” She then preceded to roughly read-out all 160 questions, encouraging us to write them down. We obviously obliged. Then, in the exam, she was kind enough to give us the hints in the question: e.g. What are the three main aspects of I&O Psych – a, b, c, or all of the above? “Hmmm… have I walked into a maths exam by mistake?” Or, in four consecutive questions, we were given all four definitions that needed to be matched with one of four terms. In other words, we had all the definitions plus all the terms and just needed to play mix-n-match. “Oh dear, post-test evaluation’s are done post-test and pre-test-post-test evaluation’s are done pre-test and post-test, right? Or is it the other way around?” Finally, some of the questions were just plain crazy: e.g. Testing that a person does by themselves is called – group testing, individual testing, paired testing or none of the above? “Seriously?”

Nevertheless, I don’t want to make it sound like I got 100% in any of my tests. I didn’t.

**Take a breath**

On a completely different and more important topic, child prostitution is something that has been on my mind a lot lately… and it all started when dad’s girlfriend did a charity run, raising money so child prostitutes can be trained as hairdressers – a healthier profession. I then read an article called, “The Diary of a Sex Slave”: http://www.marieclaire.com/world-reports/news/diary-escaped-sex-slave. Most of it is pretty graphic, so I will try to sum-it-up. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW!!! In most Asian countries, about 30-40% of all prostitutes are children (boys and girls). In Thailand, around 800,000 prostitutes are under 16. This group alone earns a greater profit than the sale of either arms, drugs or lottery tickets. The above article is about a Cambodian girl named Sreypov, who was sold to a brothel by her mother (well, actually, they pretended she was going to become a maid, but that never happened) when she was just seven years old. Forced to sleep with up to 20-men per-day, she sometimes rebelled. This resulted in server punishment that included being burned with a hot poker, covered with biting insects, whipped with an electric cable, and even worse, unmentionable things. An appointment with a girl apparently costs as little as $5. However, because pimps can charge around $800 for a girls virginity, the girls are often stitched-up to fool the next client. Interestingly, although paedophile tourists get the most media attention e.g. through World Vision’s “Name and Shame” campaign, locals are the most frequent abusers…

However – let’s move one. I hope that is enough information for you to realise that there is a big problem!
Now, what can be done about it…? During my research, I came across these suggested solutions:

1. by helping to rescue the children who are unwillingly caught in this web, providing re-education, health care, and job training;
2. by addressing the laws that govern the practice of prostitution in order to prohibit the enslavement and trafficking of children;
3. by addressing the economic issues that force children to migrate to the cities, where they are exploited in a variety of ways;
4. by examining the customs and culture, to determine the part of people which plays a role in diminishing the worth of any child.

In conclusion, I would like to say this message was not intended to offend anyone from any country. I wrote it purely from an educational perspective, hoping to motivate at least one person to help tackle the issue.

You know I love you,

XO XO

P.S. I sent an email to all the lady-boys I know, asking them lots and lots of questions. I hope they reply soon so I can tell you why they’re so popular here!

Exams and Intellectual Stimulation? What?

To the rising star of QUT, Kitty Sutherland (from the show “Cooking and Cleaning with Kitty”),

It’s exam time, which can only mean one thing… I’ve done nothing but procrastinate. For this reason, my letter to you today has a number of irrelevant topics including mistresses in Thailand and German and Dutch honesty.

They say, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.” However, it seems this saying has a cheeky twist in Asia…. “Behind every successful man, there are sometimes at least two, three or maybe four women.” The question on everyone’s mind is: why are multiple wives and mating partners normal in Asia?

My interest in this topic started from three experiences. Firstly, I once stayed with a Singaporian who appeared to be the son-of-a-mistress. He knew his father, but had no idea where he lived, what he did for a job, why he lived in another house, and why he only saw his father when they were together with his mother. Then, my Swiss friend went for some drinks with her Thai (girl) friends and their boyfriends (who were all 23-25-years-old). The boys sat there, talking about the naughty things they did with their mistresses the night before. The girlfriends didn’t react. Furthermore, my Thai friend told how her dad has a mistress, and how it’s more or less accepted in Thailand. She also said men quite often go to bath-houses for reasons ‘unbeknown’ to her.

Now, I must admit that apart from the above situations I don’t know how common this is for today’s generation; last week I asked some guys in my class, “Will you have multiple wives when you are older?” and they got a bit angry at me…. (which either means, “YES, but please don’t ask about it in front of the girls we are trying to pick-up,” or “NO”). The mistress is called a ‘mia noi’ (minor wife), and the more wealthy you are, the more minor wives you have. The major wife takes care of the family and children, where as the minor wife takes care of the husband. My ‘research’ stated that husbands don’t talk about personal , work and relationship problems to their major wife. Instead, they off-load all this information to the minor wife. Additionally, it seems this situation is a win-win-win for the husband, major wife and minor wife (plus more –win-win-win’s if there are more minor wives): the husband is not bored and has a person he can confide in. The major wife doesn’t have much pressure to have sex, the husband is more ‘satisfied’ so less likely to get a divorce, and the kids are financially taken care of. Finally, the minor wife is happy because she has a man in her life, but doesn’t need to clean his dirty laundry.

The thing I want to know is if having a mistress is an Asian phenomena, or is it just more accepted and visible here than in western cultures? Just like corruption is… maybe? Additionally, could having minor wives be the solution to rising divorce rates around the globe? From a evolution perspective, does polygamy increase the likelihood of survival and the successful rearing of one’s offspring?

Next on the agenda is the brutal honesty of Dutch and German people. They really practice the philosophy of, “If you are truly friends, you’ll be honest to each other.” I mean, some people call it harassment, polite people call it rude, nice people call it insulting, while the general population will say it’s offensive. They call it honesty and integrity. Having lived in the Netherlands for almost a year (with many German friends), I must admit I feel like I’ve ‘suffered’ through this cultural difference. For example, if you say, “I feel really lazy,” they will reply with, “Well that’s because you do nothing and you are lazy.” If you say, “I feel like my parents drink a lot of wine,” they will reply, “well, you seem like a bit of an alcoholic yourself.” If you get a new haircut that they don’t like, they’ll say, “Sam, that s a disgusting haircut. Can you please get it changed.” Nonetheless, now that Dutch and German’s make-up only about 40% of the exchange student population, I feel they are a healthy balance to, let’s say, the Americans. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, if you tell some of them, “I think my jeans make my butt look big,” they will of course be nice, polite, happy, tell you that you’re awesome, that you are the best thing since sliced bread and that the world would not be the same without you…. and that they love you, would catch a grenade for you, would jump in front of a train for you, would do anything for you and that they want to have your babies…. when really they should have said, “Yes, maybe we should try some other jeans.” (Sometimes though, the cheap flattery is appreciated).

So, I have come to trust my Dutch and German friends more. As someone who is paranoid that people don’t actually want to hang out with me, I find it relieving to know that if the Dutchies and German’s don’t want to see you, they will say so. Conversely, if you ask to hang out with them and they say, “Yes, I really enjoy your company,” you know that it is true! Isn’t that just great!? Furthermore, this honesty is expected to be returned; if your Dutch or German friend is annoying you, they expect you to tell them. Otherwise they will take your silence as acceptance. What I am trying to say is, their honesty takes away the guessing in friendships. You really know where you stand with them and how much you mean to them.

Which brings me to this super phenomenal French guy who I met last week. Do you know how sometimes you meet someone and then for days on end you can’t stop thinking about how amazing they are? How everything they say is so funny and everything they do is so cool and when they speak French you just don’t want them to stop because it kind of gets you excited? And then you are reminded that he already has a partner (so nothing could ever happen) and he is quite happy with life as it is and will be hopping on a plane in a few days to go back home…. it kind of sucks. Nonetheless, due to a series of fortunate events (well, they were fortunate for me anyway), namely the floods in Cambodia and the pouring rain in Thailand, I got to see him more than I expected. That was nice! His smile, his voice, his stories, his French passion, his big throbbing… heart were all so groovy. In fact, I don’t often feel close to people, so it was extremely nifty to feel a connection with him straight away- he is one of those people you feel close before you even say hi.

As they say in Thai: Sam sad now. Sam miss his fliend.

You know I love you,

XOXO

P.S. Here are some photos of people…

P.P.S. One of the funniest things you can experience is a German and Dutch person disagreeing. It is a long process of two people fighting about something that doesn’t matter. Neither side will give in, and they will both think the other person is very wrong. You will most likely be sitting there, clapping your hands, smiling, and saying, “In the scheme of things, IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER IF WE MEET AT 12:08 or 12:10!!! Can’t we just all be friends?”

Swiss, NZ, and an Aussie: being full of sass, as usual.

Hanging out with the naughty locals....