Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I'm currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I just flew in from Bangkok. I'm typing on a foreign keyboard with both English and Thai characters on it, so please excuse any strange typos.
It's fitting that the computer here is in the "library" of the hotel. There are fewer books here than I have on my shelves at home. Most of the big, hardcover books are picture books of Thailand, mostly Chiang Mai, the northern regions, and Bangkok, but there's a few on photography, one on the SAS gulf warriors, and a picture book of Ottowa, Canada. The paperbacks are mostly English, mostly Tom Clancy-types and guidebooks, but I see some in Russian and German.
I have already bought the souvenirs I knew I wanted to buy. Books, of course. I got a picture book of Bangkok, in case the pictures I took don't make it home well. I got a book of the myths of the Karen people in the moutains in the north, with beautiful black and white pictures, because I remember from my last trip that you can see the mountains from Chiang Mai, but I've never had a chance to explore there. Finally, I got a book of short stories and poems that won some national contest in Thailand (in translation) for a taste of modern Thai, since I love the book of short stories I bought in Singapore eight years ago. I bought them at my hotel, so they were over-priced, but at least I'm happy with them.
My only regret is not buying a biography of Jim Thompson, written by a friend of his after many of their contemporaries passed away, I found at the Jim Thompson house. Thompson was an American who moved to Thailand, set up a thriving silk business, and disappeared while on vacation in Malaysia. No trace. Theories include being eaten by a tiger and being expatriated by the CIA since he was supposedly a CIA agent. A book by a friend of his, written after anyone who could be hurt by the revelation of classified information, would have been interesting. I'll try to track in down back home.
Home. It's exactly 12 time zones away.