Giving Thanks

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This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, November 24, 2004 was originally posted on November 27, 2004.

DAY 403:  Thanksgiving Day.  The American holiday that celebrates the first harvest produced by the first European settlers (who wore big funny hats so big they needed belt buckles of their own) with the help of the indigenous people (wearing big funny hats with lots of feathers).  Today the holiday often skips over the part in American history when the European settlers murdered off the indigenous people almost to the point of extinction, and goes right up to the point in history when big inflated balloons parade down New York’s Broadway.  This is followed by the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, a gathering of family and friends over a meal, usually with a turkey, whose meat is often so sleep-inducing, most people pass out before the Sears Family Movie gets underway on TV that night.

Being abroad, Thanksgiving wasn’t a big deal; the travelers from other countries don’t have the holiday, and the Thai people probably had no clue as to what it was.  Without the lack of grammar school plays of kids starring in funny hats or supermarkets giving away free turkeys, Thanksgiving was pretty much non-existent in Bangkok.  In fact, up until the day before when I met Darrough and Aerin from Chicago, I had forgotten on which day the American holiday was on.  It might have been nice to share Thanksgiving with the Chicagoans, but they took off for the shore, leaving Filipino-American me to celebrate alone without other Americans, since they were few and far between (which wasn’t surprising when 90% of the American population didn’t even have a passport). 

Turkey isn’t a food that is readily available in Bangkok so I scrapped that idea altogether.  What’s a classic nostalgic American meal? my italicized inner voice wondered.  Oh wait!  I got it!

No, you can’t go there, the other voice in me said.  Don’t you remember last night?

Inner-Voice-In-Bold, where did you come from?

I’ve been busy scoping for chicks.

Oh.

Classic American Meal translated immediately to McDonald’s in my mind, but I’d just seen the anti-McDonald’s documentary Supersize Me for the first time in a lounge the night before and was quite determined to lay off the Golden Arches for a while.

Okay, something Thai then.  You’re in Thailand for goodness sake.

Whoa, look at the fun bags on that one!


THAT AFTERNOON I WENT TO CHECK OUT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM, which showcased many artifacts in the history of Thailand, a history where unlike in America, the indigenous people were able to fend off the European settlers.  The museum was like any other and after a while the rock statues just started blending into each other and each subsequent one was just another rock collecting dust.  The statues of the hawkman guards and the battle dioramas were cool though.

As I wondered the museum I tried to think of something unique to have for Thanksgiving other than the usual green curries, pad thais, and fried rices I’d been having.  And then it hit me. 

Eureka!

What, do you see a nipple?

Deep fried scorpions.  Paul and I had seen them two nights before, being served on a skewer by one lone street food vendor that we saw by the Swensen’s ice cream parlor.

“How much are they?” I asked the woman.

“Ten baht.”

“Uh, I think I’ll go for ice cream [instead].”

“Even if she said one baht, you would have said let’s go out for ice cream,” Paul said.

As courageous I was in the gastronomical arena (guinea pig, butterfly larvae, dog, fugu, raw horsemeat), I have to admit I was quite freaked out by the scorpions.  They weren’t battered and deep fried (which often makes anything taste a hundred times better), they just sat there, glazed, shining in the lights like, well, poisonous bugs.  Each one had its whole tail intact and pinchers, and who knew if they had be depoisoned properly?

I mustered up the courage and walked down to the Bug Vendor (who also sold mealworms and fried cockroaches) for my Thanksgiving meal.

Do it for The Blog.

When I got there the Bug Vendor was nowhere to be found. 

Oh, look at that.  What a pity, I thought sarcastically.

I looked all over the area.  Nothing.  I walked up and down Khaosan Road and the two other main strips of the backpacker district, passed the usual CD stands and fruit shake vendors.  Still nothing.  The Bug Vendor must have had the night off or something.

The closest thing to long-tailed, pincher-wearing scorpions was of course shellfish.  I went to a restaurant with an enticing display of their latest catch (picture above) outside and got a big crab and a king prawn.  You’ve probably heard the debate before:  how can you eat crabs and other crustaceans; they’re just big bugs in the ocean!  I don’t have an answer to that one.  It’s just different, maybe because the bugs are constantly being washed in salt water before consumption.  You can debate it all you want, but I love seafood and I’ll take crustaceans over scorpions any day.

Yeah!

Right-O!  Happy Thanksgiving!

The prawn and crab weren’t filling enough though and so I just went to McDonald’s to end my Thanksgiving meal with a cheeseburger.  (The effects of Supersize Me only last so long.)


THAT NIGHT I TOOK A CAB to the train station and boarded the 10 p.m. overnight express to the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.  Thanksgiving Day came to an end and amongst other things I was thankful for, I really gave thanks for one thing:  that the Bug Vendor wasn’t around that night.






Next entry: Sunshine On A Rainy Day

Previous entry: Kicking Ass




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Comments for “Giving Thanks”

  • I’ll be in the NIZ for the next 3 days on the standard trekking, elephant riding, rafting excursion…  Stay tuned!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/27  at  01:05 AM


  • That seafood looked good!  Enjoy Chaing Mai!

    Posted by Liz  on  11/27  at  02:02 AM


  • i dunno about them scorpions…

    elephant riding yes!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/27  at  02:00 PM


  • I enjoy your blog so much!  My husband and I are about to take off on a year-long RTW trip, going to MANY of the places you’ve been, so it’s fun reading all about them.  We live in Australia, but I’m American (married to an Aussie), so I appreciate many of your comments!  And great laughs as well.  Keep up the good writing; thanks for the entertainment!  Happy travels…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  03:39 AM


  • erik, there are words i’m perpetually grossed out by: nipple and octopussy. congrats, you have used both.  now that i have the heebyjeebies, i can go on laughing at the thought of indian teenagers singing along to sean paul and beyonce.  glad to hear your travels are still going well!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  09:40 AM


  • Hey Mr. E. I am sitting up, finally, it seems like it has been ages. I am recovering and should be back in action (By that i mean at work) next week onwards. whew - office has never sounded so inviting.
    see you again in india soon, or perhaps me in nyc..There is loads to catch up on your blog. 8-)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  10:35 AM


  • Hi! Greeting from New Zealand! I am a new reader. Your blog is so interesting. However, I only found out it two days ago. So far I have only read the part when you were in China ( I hope I could have found out it when you were still there since I am a Chinese and maybe I could be a little more useful back then.) I will keep catching up the previous blogs!

    You have a safe trip all the time!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  11:09 AM


  • Woah Erik, 2 new readers!

    Ahh… the “standard” 3 day trek! Rafting was my favourite part. We had some caving thrown it too…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  02:25 PM


  • damn those lazy bug vendors! I would’ve liked to see u eat a scorpion…or deep fried tarantulas in batter. ooooh…

    i saw that on food network a few days back. eek.

    btw, did you satisfy the inner you at all in ‘kok?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  02:57 PM


  • LP!! Wow… we haven’t seen you since Halo2 came out!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  03:10 PM


  • Dusty - were you sick? Hope you are better now!

    Hut - where in China are you from?  I will be going to China and HK at the end of December.

    Posted by Liz  on  11/28  at  03:23 PM


  • Td0t: lol. halo 2 has ruled my nights…and i am slowly getting back into my routine.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  03:47 PM


  • ewww, i am glad the bug vendor wasn’t around either. that is too freaky to think about. i can’t even stand touching bugs, let alone trying to eat one. i guess no turkey for you this thankgiving. seafood is better than turkey anyways. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  04:00 PM


  • After all the trash-talking I’ve done about my Asia trip next month - Looks like I’m going to have to eat bugs too. I’ve been telling people for months “I’m going to eat bugs in Asia!  I’m going to eat bugs!  AND take pictures of it!”  The moment is coming when I’m going to have to really do it - yuck! 

    When I saw ‘supersize me’, my friend and I took a bag of Mc Donald’s into the theater to get us in the proper mood.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  04:33 PM


  • Sara, was it a Supersized double quarter-pounder combo? Because after Morgan threw that up, I’d rather eat bugs!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  06:20 PM


  • Liz: I am from zhengzhou, the capital of Henan provice. If you are into Kungfu, maybe you know there is a famous temple called ShaoLin temple in China—it locates in my hometown.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  08:34 PM


  • I’M BACK FROM THE JUNGLE NOW… It was a great three days, with a quirky cast of characters.  I’ve set aside tomorrow as a work day so you can all read about it…

    KELLIANNE and HUT, welcome to The Fellowship of The Blog!  Glad you enjoy… spread the word!  It’s never too late to join up!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  09:15 AM


  • Hey Erik et al.  I’m back on the net and looking forward to catching up!  I am in Changsha, China now.  Arrived here on the 20th and settling in nicely.  I’ve got about 3 weeks of reading to do…...............you were still in India last I read.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  02:24 PM


  • Nice to have you back Janice… I think you should keep a blog! I’d love to hear about your experiences!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  04:25 PM


  • “90% of the American population didn’t even have a passport”.... really?  that’s crazy.  rza and i had paella in barcelona for turkey day.  i think it had a huge prawn too.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  08:27 PM


  • Someone else should think about starting another really good travel blog.  I’ve browsed the other on-going travel blogs on bootsnall but none of them are nearly as good as this one.  I was trying to see what blog I might read when Erik’s done with his!  I don’t think I can work without a blog to check in the morning.  Erik if everyone sends you $20 can you keep it going for an extra couple of months?  haha.  The comments are even good.  Nobody writes comments on the other blogs.  You’re kind of like David Sedaris meets National Geographic.  (It’s a compliment!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  10:11 PM


  • Looking forward to hearing all about your jungle tour! 
    Welcome back Janice, we all missed you!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  12:14 AM


  • Janice: in changsha? did you try “fried stinky tofu”? it is one of their most famous food.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  01:05 AM


  • Erik, the blog is great!  Can’t wait to read about your trek (will you post?) out of CM.  Pai was amazing.  A nice picture of you by the Taipei gate and one of the group on Loi Krathong (Sp?) which I’ll post soon, maybe from Krabi, my next stop.

    Keep in touch and safe travels,

    Ani

    Posted by Ani  on  11/30  at  02:10 AM


  • ANI:  HEY!  Great to hear from you!  Keep in touch and spread the word… the entry with you is up next…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  03:11 AM


  • SARA:  Thanks for the kudos!  The secret to The Blog is to always keep the audience in mind…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  03:36 AM


  • Watching CNN Int’l here in a bar…  Tom Ridge too?  What the hell is going on over there?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  03:39 AM


  • hut: Stinky tofu? That black smelly stuff?  Are you kidding????? I’m not that brave yet! Everything is so hot and spicy here! I’m still getting used to that.
    Td0t: Yes, I am working on a blog.  I’ll let you know when it goes live!
    Rose: Glad to be back!  Get on MSN and we can chat!  I chatted with Liz already.  It was great!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  03:07 PM


  • tom ridge wasn’t doing anything but making us check in our luggage and taking away our nail clippers on flights….

    christmas in NY rocks…  tree is up!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  03:33 PM


  • We are living in a monarchy - none of this democracry crap for us - we want the REAL totalitarian RULE…

    Hence, me going to Thailand.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  07:10 PM


  • TIDBIT ABOUT THE NYC X-MAS TREE IN ROCKERFELLER CENTER:  one year (in the 90s) I went to the lighting ceremony and the emcee was none other than Christopher Reeve (before the accident).

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/01  at  11:54 AM


  • Erik TGT: Guess where the tree is from this year?!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/01  at  01:53 PM


  • EL ZEE:  Rockland, Jersey or Hong Kong?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/02  at  03:56 AM


  • More cabinet members are calling in quits. What gives?  SOOO happy there were no scorpion snacks. Weren’t you listening when I said “Just because it’s there doesnt’s mean you HAVE to eat it!”? Ew.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/03  at  10:58 PM


  • i’m excited to read the next entries on chiang mai! it’s probably the only place so far i’ve been to on your trip.
    unfortunately, i did eat something unsavory in thailand, a fried bamboo worm. yuck. it’s better than a waterbug, though, i’m sure.

    Posted by Alyson  on  12/11  at  06:38 AM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Sunshine On A Rainy Day

Previous entry:
Kicking Ass




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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