Also, It Would Be Hard If You Had A Problem Telling The Difference Between Yellow And Orange

Pardon me if you can't read this properly; not only am I using a keyboard on which all the letters have been rubbed off, leaving only plain black keys which I am stabbing at indeterminately, but I've also just stepped off a bus after ten hours curled in the fetal position, and my fingers are still numb from having had them stuffed in my ears the whole night in a feeble attempt to block out the intermittent bursts of Thai polka music that spewed forth from the radio at one and two and three a.m, like the wake-up call from hell. On the plus side, I've learned a new curse word---an English curse word, that is---thanks to the movie on the bus, and all I can say about that is boy, the person writing the English subtitles must have been in a bad mood when he took on that project. I am entirely unconvinced that the Thai dialogue in the movie was meant to contain such phrases as "your father's a fag" and "you suck," however loosely it was translated.

We arrived in Chiang Mai, up in the north of Thailand, in the wee small hours of the morning, and finding a hotel proved to be tricky. We were originally dropped off at the one we'd chosen from the Lonely Planet, the one that promised---and I quote---"will make you feel like nouveau riche with its modern rooms and squeaky clean bathrooms" and immediately backed away gagging, our hands held up in protest, both at the sordid excuse for a toilet and the lies we'd been fed by the guidebook. "I don't know how that made me feel, but it wasn't nouveau riche," said Sean. "Nouveau depressed, maybe."

Happily, I seem to have recovered from my bout of travel malaise; turned out it was nothing an afternoon lazing about in Bangkok with a few black-market People magazines and an Oreo Blizzard couldn't cure. Thank you all so much for commiserating with me, and assuring me that I'm not the only one to have given into the lures of comfort, familiarity, and air conditioning when traveling. Now that we're in mountainous Chiang Mai, which seems at first glance to resemble a super laid-back town in Colorado---Boulder, perhaps---I'm recharged and ready for Hardcore Culture again. Bring on the temples! Where are the wats? Somebody get me to a water puppet show, stat!

We're here for almost a week, before we fly---on what I'm deathly afraid is going to be a tiny toy plane---to Mandalay in Burma. (Do we have to call it Myanmar? I'm sorry, I know that's its real name, but I'm going to stick with Burma, unless anyone objects. The Burmese government, for example, though I shouldn't think there's any danger of them finding me since they're not allowed to have the Internet there.) But goodness gracious, this country had better be worth it, because applying for a visa was not fun. Or perhaps it was fun, depending on how you view sitting in a concrete room from 9am until 3pm, waiting for number 39 to be called and realizing, as the hours tick by, that the counter is still only on number 11. That might be your thing. I don't know. If so, I've got a great place for you to hang out.

Also, if anyone asks, I work in retail, alright? Sean and I read beforehand that "listing a profession such as journalist or photographer" would complicate the visa process, and since, whoops, I'm a journalist and Sean's a photographer, we were sort of forced into getting a little creative. Sean, being a man of many talents, was able to honestly write down "graphic designer," while I toyed with truthful variations like "writer" and "editor" and decided both still sounded too threatening. Thus, I tried to think of the most innocuous profession I could, and came up with "retail." If anyone asks for specifics, I will say I sell candy. And puffy clouds and sparkly heart-shaped stickers and sweet little stuffed animal toys, most likely puppies and kittens.

While waiting for number 39 to be called---which finally happened, by the way, after we'd been there six hours eating Toblerone after Toblerone, beacuse if there's an activity that can't be ameliorated by the consumption of a Toblerone then I don't know about it, except for maybe watching golf on TV---we met the hippiest of hippie girls. I mean, trust me, I thought I was getting pretty out there with my ethnic headscarf/no makeup combo, but this girl's idea of fun was spending three months in a Burmese monastry learning to meditate.

"You know," she said to me at one point, her spacy drawl belying the fact that she was staring at me with the kind of earnest intensity that comes from eating too many lentil and mung bean casseroles. "There are two kinds of freedoms. There's the freedom to go where you want to go and do what you want to do. But there's another kind of freedom, an even deeper kind of freedom, and that's the freedom of just viewing your whole journey as a pilgrimage and seeing what manifests from that." And I said, "whoa, lady. I just asked if you knew what time it was."

The best thing about Thailand---apart from the fact that they play the national anthem in the movie theater before the show, and you all have to stand up and keep a straight face---is the dogged devotion they have for their king. I've never seen anything like it. When Sean and I got on the public bus on Monday morning, to make our way over to the Burmese embassy, we noticed an awful lot of yellow. The bus driver was wearing a yellow shirt. The bus conductor was wearing a yellow shirt. A glance from left to right revealed that eight out of ten patrons on the bus were also wearing yellow shirts, and nine out of ten of the people outside were as well. "Did we miss the memo or something?" I hissed to Sean, panicked, for I was wearing pink.

Turns out I wasn't far wrong. At lunch, we asked our waitress why everyone was wearing yellow, and she told us that on Mondays and Tuesdays, EVERYONE IN THAILAND puts on a yellow shirt to show their love and support for the king.

Now, seriously. Can you even imagine the havoc this would wreak on your wardrobe? For a start, yellow doesn't go with anything. Forget the ubiquitous black pants; you'd look like a bumblebee. Yellow and brown would turn you into someone's couch/kitchen/dad from the 70s. Yellow and pink would make you look like a sorbet. Yellow and orange would make you look like someone on acid, or someone who wanted to be. Yellow and green could work, I suppose, and maybe yellow and blue, depending on the shades of each, but I think you'd mostly have to go with yellow and white.

And this means you'd have to own two wears of white pants, one for Monday and one for Tuesday, and god knows it's hard enough to find one flattering pair of white pants. (Please tell me you also have to buy your white pants one size bigger than your normal size pants.) Alternatively, you'd have to have just the one pair of white pants, which you'd need to keep clean throughout all of Monday, in order to be able to wear them on Tuesday as well. Could you do that? COULD YOU? And don't get me started on the complex lingerie strategizing you'd have to do---I'm talking pie charts and everything---to ensure that you had the correct nude-colored undergarments on hand to go beneath the white pants, and the right bra to match, in case you happened to be in a car accident on Monday or Tuesday and all the doctors at Bangkok General found out that you thought it was PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE to wear a black bra with nude-colored knickers.

Fridays must be so much easier. They only have to wear blue then, to show support for the queen.

Sep 29, 2006

Lord, you're funny. And yes, you've spent lots of time selling me and my five kids lots of rainbow lollipops. We simply wouldn't THINK of going anywhere but you for our never-ending sugar needs.

I think that yellow - depending on the shade of yellow, as many people out there look like DEATH in yellow, myself included - combined with a dark blue pair of jeans could work for almost everyone. Maybe a cute denim skirt for the ladies?

I still think like a third grader about white pants, in that I just believe it's NOT A GOOD IDEA. For me, of course. Not with my propensity for spilling coffee on myself as in get in the car, or just in general.

Thespian Libby
Sep 29, 2006

For a fleeting moment I was afraid we were back to the mango issue.

Sep 29, 2006

I believe the even deeper kind of freedom on Yellow Mondays and Yellow Tuesdays is the freedom to just go commando and be rid of the lingerie strategizing.

Sep 29, 2006

Gawd, woman. You tease us with a new curse word and then don't even tell us what it is?

Sep 29, 2006

Yellow is a very difficult colour to wear. What happens if you really, really want to honour the king but yellow is just not your colour? Are you stared at, whispered about or your name put on a list??? Does your love for the King come before your vanity?

Also - would love to know the new curse word. Have exhausted the use of all current ones in my vocabulary and really could use a new one. I tried using 'Sweet Cracker Sandwiches' and my lovely fiance looked at my like he had never seen me before. For a moment there, I thought he was reconsidering marrying me. I can redeem myself with a new curse word.

Sep 29, 2006

But what is the curse word? I've been needing a new one...

If I looked that good without makeup... well... I'd never wear makeup. But I'd like to try the ethnic headscarf. What exactly is the 'proper' way of tying one?

Sep 29, 2006

Asian people must look better in yellow than pasty freckled Irish girls... I'm not sure I love my mom enough to wear yellow, certainly not the king.

Sep 29, 2006

But WHY yellow? Is it the king's favorite color? Is it the official monarchical color, much like ecclesiastical purple? And do even the angst-ridden teenagers wear yellow or do they at least couple their yellow shirts with black fishnets and an excess of eyeliner? So does it just make the whole country look totally jaundiced? Because I wouldn't give a good goddamn about the king if I had to look like I had hepatitis every Monday and Tuesday.

Sep 29, 2006

I used to have to wear my school colors on game days for high school sports. Our school colors were orange and blue.

That Thai king must REALY be something!

Sep 30, 2006

The white pants dilemma has made me tired. But I think that if you are called on your claim to work in "retail" you should absolutely whip out that whole thing and forget about the candy and fluffy puppies. Because YES you are totally right.

No black bras with nude knickers.

Horrible Warning
Sep 30, 2006

Gah. I would look like a marshmallow peep. And with my luck? It would be Wednesday and I'd be wondering if I missed the memo...

Sep 30, 2006

Delurking here to say I'm really looking forward to your posts from Myanmar! We traveled there about nine years ago and have such great memories of our adventures. My face literally hurt at the end of the day from smiling so much. If you can, try to get to Inle Lake.

Sep 30, 2006

So I saw a mango, cut up in the store...and I think I have to change my vote back to yellow. Perhaps there are different types of mangoes? That must be it.
And I wanted to share a story too. When we visited Taiwan a few years ago, my husband and I had a harrowing trip down the side of a mountain. We thought we'd been kidnapped in a taxi to nowhere, but that's another story altogether! The best part of our trip home was when we arrived back in Taipei and headed straight for a Chili's. I've never enjoyed a cheesburger (with bacon!) and blended margarita as much as I did that evening.
Best of luck -- can't wait to read more about your adventures!

Sep 30, 2006

The curse word was fuckknuckle.

(Sorry dad. And mum. And Sean's mum.)

Sep 30, 2006

Showing support by wearing yellow?!
That's AWEsome.

Sep 30, 2006

Ah, fuckknuckle! That's one of my favorites! It's right up there next to "mudwhistle", "assbracket", and "fartknocker".

My question regarding the royalty support/clothing color issue has nothing to do with fashion. What I'd like to know is WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO WEAR YELLOW.

Oct 01, 2006

I'm planning a trip that way in the near future. As I already stand out with my blondeness, maybe wearing a nice bright yellow shirt will help me blend. No? Well, worth a shot and therefore appreciate the info.

PS - Love the new word. Will use it in a sentence today.

Oct 01, 2006

The color they were wearing was actually "mango" b/c that is the king's favorite fruit.