Why I expat

Perhaps it had to do with visiting Thailand at six years of age. Or maybe it was that German woman who visited us when I was a child. She cooked potato pancakes that were mighty good. I remember flipping through her English/German language book with delight. I thought flugnummer (flight number) was so much fun…

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Who am i?

Being back in Thailand means a lot of things. It means I’m eating amazing food again and seeing my friends that I missed when I was in Ecuador, and now missing my friends who are in Ecuador. It means putting Spanish on the shelf and taking down pasa Thai, dusting it off and playing with…

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Thailand and back again

I went to Ecuador in search of a place where I could breathe and live. I thought Thailand was too fraught with the birth death birth cycle and I needed to escape. But the distance that had arrived from living on the other side of the world allowed me to see what I had left…

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Day trips from Cuenca: a sampler

Cuenca is a great city to not only visit, live and enjoy but it is also a great base camp to the surrounding areas. The most famous day trip from Cuenca has to be Cajas National Park and for good reason too. Athough it typically rains in the afternoon so go early; dress for cooler…

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Free things to do in Cuenca

Freebies: One of the nice things about Cuenca is there are many free events or places to visit at no cost. By popping into most restaurants or hotels you can discover a little booklet that tells you what is going on that month in the city. At Plaza de San Sebastian which is a very…

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An Asian American in Ecuador

Goodbye Chinese Sweet anger Draw me a curtain Give me a mask Push me off the stage The sour touch of your words Feel like dry leaves on my soul And bad milk in my bowl Goodbye Chinese Salty warmth Hold me back Shut my sight Wrap me in my ancestral blanket The savory touch…

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The long way around

Another crack at Spanish means a lot of things, including another crack at my self-confidence. I’ve started another Spanish class this week and so far it has been great. I’m surprised by what I do know and what I have remembered from my own studies. I also made the commitment to have fun. The stress…

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Left behind

What is happening to Ecuador’s youth? It started with an advanced writing class I taught in which the students’ final work would be a research paper and presentation. I didn’t know what to expect from a particular student because she changed her topic at the last minute. Well it was damn enlightening. She talked about…

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Limits of language

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” -Ludwig Wittgenstein Upon reading this I can’t help but think about learning Español and pasa Thai and how through language acquisition I’m trying to expand my cultural boundaries. But when I continued to stare at the quote I realized that language is much more…

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Chinese fire drill

The thing about being Asian in North America is no one thinks you’re subjected to any kind of racism. We’re not brown enough so no one is the wiser. I imagine some white people tiptoe around black folks in an effort not to offend or say anything that might be construed as racist. Well, I…

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Where to eat in Cuenca

On a teacher’s budget. . . I haven’t lived here that long but I wanted to put together a list of places to eat, like I did in Chiang Mai. And frankly, just a quick google search confirmed that there is not a good list out there. El Tunel on Honorato Vásquez is quite possibly…

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Our judgments

Living abroad challenges your ability to withhold judgment because you are confronted with so many cultural differences on a minute by daily basis. At home it is, of course, still challenging to not make judgments on what people chose to do or not do. It’s hard not to think that the women who looks like…

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Something to follow

I was having a conversation with a colleague about how South American and Asian countries have a tendency to follow the countries they despise. Vietnam hates China and yet they seem to practice the governmental policies as the superpower they claim to want to do nothing with. The same goes with South America versus North…

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Konichiwa

I am walking down the street when I hear: Konichiwa Ni hau Chino China Should I be offended? I know if a Caucasian person was walking down the street and a local Hawaiian yelled, “Eh haole” that would not be a good thing. Or maybe it’s more like when Brendan Fraser’s character from Blast from…

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Woman vs man

I really do like my new place better than my old one but. But my landlady who is around 58 years old seems to enjoy yelling at her 70something husband. Apparently it is very common for Ecuadorian men to have a much younger wife. Of course the vice versa is unheard of. Now coming from…

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How things work (when expat life comes together)

In high school, my brother (along with other students) were asked the question, “What makes Hawaii so special?” Everyone replied with the typical responses like the weather, the island’s beauty, whatever, but Larry replied, “If you took away the soft sand, the beautiful beaches, the warm sun, etc (enter eloquent words here), Hawaii would still…

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My parents

Here is the second half of my parents story. Their story is an extension of my story and is part of the history I share with Thailand… Depending on how old I was I have heard slightly different versions of how my parents met. I’m not sure what triggered my desire, maybe nothing more than…

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Over my head

The two times that I have been the most distraught since arriving here has been over the language. My inability to understand circumstances has catapulted the cliché in over my head to new heights and demoralizing lows. These situations mimic things that have also happened to me in Thailand. It is not difficult to remember…

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Thailand vs Ecuador

An American I met last night asked if I noticed any similarities between Thailand and Ecuador. Having been here only 6 days I told her I had. I made the move from Chiang Mai to Cuenca because I wanted a change. I hadn’t been living in CM for very long, just under a year, but…

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The other side of Thai

A fellow blogger made mention of how lucky I was to straddle two worlds, both the Thai and the American cultures. (Perhaps this can be visualized by me riding an elephant holding a bald eagle. Anyway, scratch that, I don’t know what I’d want to be wearing. Oh! Maybe a muumuu since I was born…

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Pàt tai = French fry

I always thought pàt tai was a strange name for a dish. Pàt means fry. Fry Thai? But then I thought about french fries. Perhaps not so strange after all. . . Chiang Mai food! CM Gate Market is for early risers. Working Thais grab breakfast and lunch (for later) and many other goods such…

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Sweet and sour on rice

As I look around my little Thai apartment I am filled with gratitude for this remarkable experience, my first experience living as an expat. It seems like a very long time ago when I was taking the TESOL course in Bangkok. (They used our class photo as advertisement.) I was lucky to be part of…

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Great expectations

Thailand offered free tourist visas for the past year and when I went to extend mine for another month, I had to pay for an ‘application fee’. I was pissed. I handed my two 1,000B bills to the immigration lackey, along with my paperwork and passport, and walked back to the seating area in a…

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Burnt rice, crispy pride

(*part 2 of: oh don’t be such a pad thai) If you haven’t figured it out, I was a picky eater and hated vegetables. When I was a wee little sprout I remember taking a bite of peas and looking up at my mom in repugnance. “Yuck! Do I have to eat this?” “Yes.” I…

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Oh, don’t be such a pad thai

As an Asian woman I’m pretty much expected to be a good cook, kind of like how Asian men are suppose to be a mathematical geek or Bruce Lee. I loathe the stereotype and relish it at the same time. The kitchen was my mother’s domain. And while I should have followed, could have followed,…

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