Life in Northern Thailand: An Interview (Update Part 16)

I thought you’d be interested in seeing the official transcript of my recent interview with จริงๆคุณทำงานเพื่อแปลนี้ from Why Am I Here? Weekly, a travel media network.

Key: I = Interviewer; Me = Kathryn Cooper

Happy reading!


I: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me today.

Me: No problem. Really, what else am I doing?


I: Good point. So tell me about your experiences here in Nan Province, where I hear you’ve spent time in both the town and the moun—OW! WHAT IS BITING ME?

Me: Oh, that’s Solenopsis invicta, or the Thai red fir– 


I: I DON’T CARE WHAT THEY ARE. Just tell me how to get them off of me.

Me: Well, with all the biting ants, whether big or small, black or red, I find that you really have to wear the right clothing in the first place—thick pants, socks covering the–


I: You are not helping. This is really not a positive start.

Me: Welcome to Thailand, the land of smiles.


I: I probably shouldn’t say this, but did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or what?

Me: I wouldn’t call it a bed, and… [sighs] Sorry. It’s just that I’m so hungry all of the time. I…I knew all the rice was going to be bad, but it’s just so…bad. I can’t think about much other than the fact that I’m hungry all the time.


I: Eaten anything interesting?

Me: Well, Santol is a fruit found here that I’ve never seen or heard of. It looks like a tan mangosteen, but one only can eat the middle flesh section—not the skin or white inner pulp. It’s roughly chopped and served with fish sauce, cilantro, dried shrimp paste, and hot pepper flakes. I’ve tried it several times and each time it’s worse. Gah.  


I: I didn’t know you could speak in hyperlinks.

Me: [smug shrug]


I: So have you noticed anything weird or experience something unforgettable during your time in northern Thailand?

Me: What hasn’t been weird, really? For example, I noticed in my friend’s house that right beside the place they told me to keep my big pack (I could only fit a backpack for my trip up the mountain to the school), there was a large dish on the floor filled with long, dark brown objects, which I assumed were some sort of half-rice, half-orzo objects. It wasn’t until more than 15 days later when I noticed bits of rice on the floor and what was decidedly mouse poop. Then it dawned on me…were they actually collecting the mouse poop? That could have been part of what it was. It sounds disgusting and crazy, but considering that my friend’s mother watches tv at night and ends up with a collection of 50 or so dead mosquitoes next to her (yes, she actually puts them in a neat little pile), it’s not that crazy.


I: I think you enjoy grossing your audience out. You do realize that all 4 people seeing this have a disgusted look on their faces right now, right? Is there anything you could say right now to make them feel better?

Me: Well, I could tell you a more normal food story. I bought pineapple at the local market as a little treat. We cut it on a platter for all 6 of us—me, my friend, his parents, and his two aunts—and munched away. It was just delicious—perfectly ripe and juicy. I looked up and on both sides of the table, people were making the most grossed-out, I-just-ate-something-disgusting look. “What, what? It’s delicious! What is it?” My friend wouldn’t explain, but both aunts rushed off and came back. One aunt dumped salt on one side of the platter and the other aunt dumped raw sugar. Huh? I was the only one who ate it plain. I just don’t get it, and I never will.


I: Has anything totally crazy or dangerous happened?

Me: Well, my mom’s going to be reading this, so I don’t want to say anything that will scare her. Really, aside from the two near-accidents and the near-surgeries, plus a few gun and knife incidents, nothing really was that dangerous.


I: Uh…I mean…you do realize that what you just said will make your mother more nervous now?

Me: Oh, absolutely.


I: You’re obnoxious.

Me: You’re unprofessional.


I: [sighs] Well okay, let’s try to look on the bright side. Have you figured out anything in your life?

Me: Oh, absolutely! For 3 years I’ve been wondering why Thai orange juice is so darn delicious. I finally found the ingredients in English: 12% juice, 10% sugar, 10% fructose, and the rest is water or “natural” flavorings.


I: That’s not really what I meant, but fine. Can you tell us something truly positive?

Me: Well, yes I can. I’m having an amazing time despite the usual frustrations and terrible food. Just going for walks is memorable every time. The people are crazy, the views are fantastic, and I swear even the butterflies are happy here. My ride down from the mountain was luckly to see clear skies and no rain for most of the trip, and I was blessed I got to see mountain crops, jungles, waterfalls and brooks, craggy limestone peaks and caves…it was just beauty I have no words for. Imagine the valleys and hills of Switzerland, the landscape of tropical New Zealand, and the greenery of Iceland. Not that I’ve ever been to those places, but from the photos I see, that’s an apt way of describing this place. I feel so lucky I got to see this place and in that respect, I don’t want to leave.


I: Well thank you for your time. It’s nice to end on a positive note.

Me: [deleted]


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