Monthly Archives: October 2011

call me rude

Rihanna’s “Rude” plays in the background of a darkly silhouetted bar. Western men lean in to whisper dirty nothings into the ears of petite and scantily-clad Thai women.

These women work in Thailand’s sex industry. Many come from eastern Thailand to find work in the city. Some come under false pretenses. Some know what they’re getting into. The journey to Chiang Mai and Bangkok work in bars, massage parlors, clubs and strip clubs.

Men from around the world come to Thailand to hook up. Many of these men are 50 + and many come to find a woman in her 20s. Many of these men are old enough to be these girls’ father and some are old enough to be their grandfather.

Every night children wander up and down the aisle of bars selling roses. These children are under 10 years old and selling flowers to the Western men to buy for their woman of the night. The money the children make from selling roses goes to an adult at the end of each evening. They walk past these bars late at night and they see all that goes on.

They live in red light.

Last night several friends from the U.S. went with one of my colleagues and I to prayer walk in this area, in Chiang Mai’s red light district.

We had the chance to talk with several of these flower-selling youth for a few minutes.

It breaks my heart. At their age I was playing with Pet Shop Animals and Polly Pockets – not watching drunken men seduce women to the tune of this week’s favorite hit hip hop artist.

“God bless you,” I said in Thai to one of the girls as we said our goodbyes, leaving the children to make their rounds.

“God bless you too,” she answered.

Does she know who God is? Does she know Jesus loves the little children? Does she know true love isn’t a one-night stand?

I don’t know.

She knows the tune of Rihanna’s song.

Will you pray for these children?


Filed under Life

sleep deprivation, sports and social media

Calling all sports fans.

“Go my favorite sports team!” (Brian Regan, for those who’ve missed his hilarity.)

When you’re a sports fan living in Asia, you’re called to make some sacrifices. I’m specifically talking about sleep sacrifices.

If you want to watch your favorite sports team, many times it means waking up early or staying up late. Losing sleep for sports sounds silly to many.

This past weekend I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. to watch The Battle of The Brazos – that’s Baylor vs. Texas A&M, for non-Texans. It’s the official rivalry between these two universities that’s been intact since 1899 – that’s 112 years folks.

It’s the last year it’ll happen since Texas A&M decided to leave the Big 12 conference.

It was a heartbreaking game. Do I regret staying up?

I did initially, I mean, really, who is thrilled at watching their alma mater succumb to the Aggies? But now, looking back, I wouldn’t have changed anything.

During the World Cup last year I stayed up and woke up early to catch the games. I had mornings that started at 4 a.m. and nights that ended at 2 a.m. I cheered during the heart-wrenching penalty kicks in the USA games.

I’ve stayed up late to watch Chelsea FC games since London is a good six hours behind us.

Thank goodness for social media and free streaming Web sites.

When I watch games I tweet and post status updates on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s been fun finding camaraderie on Twitter. I am sure I annoy most people my blowing up their Twitter feeds with sports updates, but it’s almost like watching the games with others even when you’re alone in your room in your pajamas.

There’s something about knowing others are pulling their hair out waiting for Landon Donovan to take his PK.

There’s something just something about seeing tweets of jubilation when your Baylor scores.

There’s something comforting in knowing others are frustrated with the referees calls against Chelsea.

There’s something energizing in knowing you’re not the only one losing sleep to watch the game/match.

It’s the sense of community that social media has allowed. I’m not able to be at the games in person or watch with others, but I can have a shared experience via Facebook or Twitter. It’s like being in the stands, almost.

There isn’t any tailgating on Twitter/FB yet. There is yelling and cheering though.

I’ve met fans I’d never have met otherwise because of Twitter. I’ve connected with friends I can’t be with in person on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve learned stats and information about the games because of social media.

Sleep loss can be shared and tweeted.

Sports are universal. Sports have united people around the globe and it’s been made easier by media.

So, I’ll see you late at night or early in the morning on Facebook or Twitter. @thaitessa

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Art of Misunderstanding

It’s easy to misunderstand. This is especially true when your home country isn’t the one you grew up in.

There are a lot of things about American culture that I don’t know about having lived in Asia most of my life. Going to college was enlightening for me in many ways.

There are still many times when I miss a cultural cue or pop culture reference, just ask my friends. They have many a funny story of me embarrassing myself or saying something silly.

It happened again recently.

On a recent media coverage I met a girl who just got engaged. I asked how they met.

“Playing Cooties,” she answered.

I wished my coworker had taken a picture of the expression on my face at that moment. Having lived in Asia, I do try to monitor my facial expressions, but sometimes it’s just plain hard.

Boys have cooties, that’s what every elementary and early pre-teen girl thinks. But, how do you play cooties? This doesn’t sound PG and I am not sure this is something you tell someone you just met.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Yeah, we were playing in the basement around New Years’ Eve.”

Sketchy. I think this might be TMI. I won’t tell you what I thought she meant by that.

“Will you tell your children that’s how you met their dad?” I thought. I had enough of a filter not to say this out loud.

She explained that Cooties is a game that many kids in America play growing up. I completely missed this phenomenon. She said you play it by adding parts to a cootie bug. You add limbs etc.

“It’s really intense,” she said.

Really intense? Adding plastic legs to a cootie bug is an intense game? I don’t understand.

I did look up the game and it is a legit Hasbro game, so she was not a sketchy of a person as I had initially thought.

Oh the joys of being a third culture kid. Experiences like this add to my arsenal. Next time, I’ll be prepared to joke about how wonderful cooties are.


Filed under Life