Best Movie: Inception. Perhaps someone planted that in my mind. If they did then Shutter Island would be my top movie of 2010. Either way, big thumbs up to Mr. Di Caprio this year!
Best Cologne: Paco Rabanne – Million. Trust me.
Book: Wild Swans – Juan Chang. Quantity and Quality. This 800 page epic reads as a personal history of Mao’s China. I got more from this book then from 2 years studying a-level history!
Album: Black Keys – Brothers. Quality throughout. Eminem’s Recovery album was the best he’s done for a long time too. What? What the f@%* man? How can you even mention those two in the same sentence? I just did. It’s my choice. Let it go.
Best Album: Stampede by Hellyeah – Let’s put it this way: I know these guys are a bunch of rednecks, but this album is good times, party hard rock and reminds me of the old GnR days
Best movie that I thought would be rubbish but actually turned out to be quite decent: I spent most of 2010 watching classic films (e.g. Lawrence of Arabia), but I did enjoy the A-team movie. I don’t care what the critics said, I thought I was a good representation of the old TV show.
Best retro comeback: The new Lancia Stratos – If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it. If you have a spare 25 million baht, can I have it please?
Best place to have a coffee and baguette: Sapa in Vietnam – Best. Place. Ever. Go there and see what I’m on about, and if you don’t believe me then ask Chris…….
Best TV show: It is, and always will be Top Gear. These guys get crazier as they get older, and it’s back on in 2 weeks!
Best Single: Another Night Out by UNKLE featuring Mark Lanegan
Best Sound: Solo laughing
Best SE moment: Mitch deciding to stick with his classes at SE (and pick up a second one), rather than transfer over full time to Thida. Respect!
Best SE event: Thai Culture Party at the Wang Thai hotel.
Best iced drink in Surat: Banana & Chocolate shake at Coffee Zone (around the corner from SE). This drink isn’t on the menu, so you’ll have to order a Banana Mocha shake and tell them “Mai auw mocha kraap. Auw cho-co-lat kraap.”
Best Classroom Moment: Anunban 2/2 at Noonoy doing board races while acting out animals. Adorable and hysterical.
Best Drink: tie between a mango margarita from Dos Segundos and Smart Water. Dos Segundos is a Mexican restaurant on 2nd Street in Philadelphia, and they have the best margaritas ever. I literally daydream about the mango. Soooo good. And yes, I know I am a snob, but I just love Smart Water.
Best Party: My friend Matt’s birthday party, it was a theme party, which I’m usually not crazy about, but it was International Beer Olympics and I got to use a fake Russian accent all night.
Best Weekend: The weekend that my best friend Sarah got married.
Best Restaurant: Punjab Cafe in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA: my most favorite Indian food.
Best Book: The Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore
Best TV Show: Dexter
Best TV Couple: Pam and Jim
Best Haircut: When I got my bangs cut super duper short for the first time.
Best Cat: Juicebox. She’s like a miniature panther, and she’s made my heart grow to sizes I didn’t know it could.
Best Decision: Moving to Thailand. It’s been hot and sweaty and rainy and moldy and hard and good and up and down but damn it’s good to feel alive.
Best Beer I’ve Drank In Thailand: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Brought from America by Brittney to blow up my taste-buds and make 4th of July great.
Best 3D Movie Seen In Thai Without English Subtitles or 3D Glasses: Piranha 3D. I think that’s kind of self explanatory.
Best Podcast: KEXP Music That Matters/Song of the Day. A local Seattle Music Station that is funded solely by listeners and plays some seriously awesome music that helps make me feel at home.
The Top Ten Thai People I Frequently interact with in Surat Thani:
10. Singing Lady at Night Market
She stands at the end of the Night Market street every night. She ‘plays’ a guitar with two strings. Her singing is more like yelling. She provides daily comic relief.
9. Smoothie Lady at the Night Market
She speaks great English, and makes a killer fresh fruit smoothie.
8. Entire Crew at Coffee Zone
There is always at least 5 people behind the counter, usually 2 make your coffee and the rest of them hang out. They are super friendly and refill my water every 2 minutes.
7. Laundry Lady (near Cooling Out)
She is super sweet. Last week she was closed, but saw me coming and came out from behind the gate to take my laundry. She charges only 60 Baht for a large bag of clothes AND she has a baby pug named Rambo, whom I love.
6. Fluke from P3/3
Not that I play favorites or anything. He is a tiny, tiny kid with a raspy voice. He is like an adorable old man in a 7 year old Thai boy’s body. He often performs his favorite dance moves for the class, he is super smart, has great handwriting, and everyday asks me, “How do you do?”
5. Rice Lady
I love the rice lady. She is funny, sassy, makes me vegetarian meals, and has some of the best wireless in town.
4. Smoothie Lady #2
She speaks EXCELLENT English. I stop by her stand everyday after work at Thida, and she always makes pleasant conversation. After she makes my smoothie, she tells me to drink some so that she can fill the cup up with more.
3. Yoga Lady (Noi)
Noi teaches a great yoga class, and instructs in English as well as Thai. She has a beautiful new studio. Every time I’m sick or have a bug bite, she finds me some sort of natural remedy. She’s a really giving and really kind lady.
2. Alec (neighbor)
Alec! He is about 60 but looks like he’s 40. He is an effervescent man, and a wonderful neighbor. He also speaks great English, and is very helpful. He lends us things, gives us advice, checks our water tank, and when we buy those big jugs of water from him, he’ll carry them all they way to the second floor.
She does so much. She has accompanied me to the hospital, immigration office, and even offered to take three of us to Khanom in her car. I don’t know what I’d do without Wen!
Best Movie: The Postman – because it might be the greatest movie I ever forgot existed. Go watch it, now!
Best Classroom Moment – A student waving goodbye to me on a test day with the biggest smile, screaming “Goodbye teacher Brian. See you tomorrow!” ….All of the answers were written on the palm of her hand.
Best Ride – My motorbike. I’d never ridden a motorbike before coming to Thailand, and it’s some kind of awesome I never knew.
Best Meal – Homemade Mexican with some of the other teachers. With the exception of one time on Koh Samui, this was the first Mexican I’ve had in six months, and it was fantastic.
Best Book – The Crossing.
Best Weekend: My going away party in Dallas, Texas. Roof top drinks and swimming pool at the W Hotel, Moroccan dinner, pub crawl, and back to the W to swim, dance and watch the sunrise with my best friends.
Best Food: Laotian food. In Luang Prabang…ate amazing soup every morning (spicy broth, vegetables, thick noodles, meat)
Best Beach: Railay. It’s got everything! Remote, breath-taking views, rock-climbing.
Best Country: Laos. I was blown away by Laos! It’s got something for everyone…parties, temples, mountains, amazing food, interesting history.
Best Hotel: The Hilton in Phuket! VIP status, Executive Rooms & Lounge, free food and cocktails.
Top more than 5 list:
Best meal of 2010: Homemade avocado cheeseburgers for John’s birthday.
Best book I read this year: On Pilgrimage. This biography of four American authors I really like.
Best beach vacation: Koh Chang. We went out there on a whim and found this perfect little beach with no internet or phone connection or bars or atms and just hung out in a bungalow for as long as we could (until we ran out of cash.) Some fishermen gave us a ride in their boat to get out there.
Best sunrise (There haven’t been that many): In Koh Chang, bungalow literally on the beach. Slept in my swimsuit and woke up early the morning we were leaving. I walked two steps to the water and swam out as far as I could. It started raining and I looked up and saw the sun rising over the dark jungle and rain falling all around me in the still water and causing of little rainbows in the drops. I can’t even describe how beautiful it was.
Best impractical vacation: Ireland for a friend’s wedding. Ridiculous trip to make from Thailand but so awesome.
Best feeling: A story I wrote for this little start-up New Monasticism magazine got published. It was something I wrote from a very sincere place in my soul about something that meant a lot to me. I didn’t get paid, but you know. It was also a little embarrassing because my grandparents and parents read it, and it said some weird stuff.
Best decision: Staying in Thailand a second year. Good, good idea. I feel so much more at home here and enjoy life so much more in my second year. Teaching is easier, and I’m traveling more, finding more what I like to do, enjoying people here more. All better in the second year.
Best classroom moment: My P5 students in the spring got me a giant fruit basket and wrote a speech and learned a song to say thank you (just for me!) on the last day of school. After struggling through my first semester and feeling discouraged a lot, it was a really good way to end the year.
Earth Zone… The internet is good and the food is great. The owners speak very good English and are always joyful and eager to talk to you.
Haad Yuan on Koh Pangan… Only a 150 baht/ 10 minute boat ride around cape from Haad Rin, Haad Yuan is an awesome beach to chill out on during the day, bungalows are dirt cheap, and it has some cool bars that throw parties at night if you want to have a good time without the craziness of a Full Moon Party on Haad Rin.
Best Air Conditioning:
Room 5511 at Suratpittaya School… I pray for classes in that room.
Best Christmas movies (since its the holiday season!):
#3. A Christmas Story… too bad there’s no 24 hour TBS marathon out here in Thailand!
#2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation… makes me want to put Christmas lights up all over my house. but not really.
#1. Die Hard… “Ho, Ho, Ho. Guess who’s got a machine gun?”
Honorable Mentions: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Bad Santa, Elf, and Home Alone.
Best Burger Joint in ST:
Baan Satek (near the river)… Spicy Basil Burger hands down.