Thursday morning at 3AM … jet lag

DSCN4221[1]Ah the beauty of jet lag, up at 3AM, asleep at 5pm in the chair, hoping to make it at least until 9PM to get on track again. We are very fortunate to be able to travel, and seeing other countries, far from making us experts on anything, merely reinforces the reality that everyone on this planet is concerned first with family, friends, making a living, and only secondly with more ethereal matters like impressions of other countries they have never visited.

Thailand and Laos, for instance, are in a state of tension right now over a temple site that was awarded to Laos by the Hague. Nepal is coming up on an election that has deeply affected tourism, its life blood, due to threat of violence. People we were able to breach the language barrier with were far better informed than the typical American of their country’s political situation. But that is by definition a skewed sample.

Siberian couple Natalia and Dmitri moved to Australia due to long nights and cold
Siberian couple Natalia and Dmitri moved to Australia due to long nights and cold
Others we met – Siberians, Aussies, Norwegian, Danes, Canadians, Germans and Belgians – were, like us, better off than most and able to travel. There’s nothing representative of such encounters. The Norwegian was traveling with his son, and presented something interesting: The Dad could pass for a Brit, so pronounced was his King’s English. The son was easily seen to be speaking a foreign language, but was studying American English. The Norwegian education system deliberately emphasized British over American English but that has changed in recent decades.

Bangkok Museum of Art
Bangkok Museum of Art
Thailand appears to be doing quite well from the glimpses we caught of Chaing Mai and Bangkok. We had a disastrous trip up north, a fourteen hour tour of markets and jewelry shops. There were no beggars as are so prevalent in India and Nepal. The place is clean, unlike India and Nepal, which were filthy. There are long freeways filled with newer cars. Downtown Bangkok has mass transit, American-style overpriced shopping centers filled with Chinese goods. But somehow the country is making the most of it. Per capita income is $8700 or so and unemployment 1.5%, according to the guide book. That’s very good by Asian standards – there exists a middle class, but still quite a lot of poverty.

DSCN4399[1]The sex trade is very big in Thailand, as young Thai girls tend to be very beautiful by American corporate standards. It was not unusual to see an older white douche bag with a beautiful young Thai on his arm. Posters everywhere emphasize that “Boys cannot be baht*.” Every country has its problems, and that is one of human dignity. The Thai approach is to work for safety and openness for “sex trade” workers, as for so many young people it’s seen as a way out of poverty.

Nepali girl, mountain village
Nepali girl, mountain village
Nepal – third world by anyone’s standards, small huts, open toilets, garbage, smells, bad roads and beggars everywhere. We were advised on entry not to give any money to beggars, as most are in the employ of pimp-like gangsters as seen in Slum Dog Millionaire. Our longest day was a trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara, an eight-hour bus trip on bad roads, complete with two flat tires. Rich Americans that we are, that night I bought plane tickets for the return trip, $200 for a 35-minute flight. Say what you will.

What’s the point of travel? I don’t know. I know it is a good thing, and I know those of us who travel presume to have better insight than those who don’t. I know what Mark Twain said about prejudice. But in my jet-lagged state all I can say is that I want to be an American right now, and to have this weighty cloud in the back of my head go away, replace by my usual cloud of confusion on all matters.
*The Thai unit of currency is the baht
PS: How bad is my jet lag? I wrote this piece at 3AM on Friday morning.

13 thoughts on “Thursday morning at 3AM … jet lag

  1. Others we met – Siberians, Aussies, Norwegian, Danes, Canadians, Germans and Belgians – were, like us, better off than most and able to travel. There’s nothing representative of such encounters.

    Let us do a genetic test on all those and see if something representative shows up.

    older white douche bag

    Yes, race and skin color don’t matter; until it is time to slur someone. I look forward, in the name of fairness, to hear comments about Brown douche bags, Yellow douche bags, and Black douche bags.


    1. The only skin color pattern you seem to notice involves White people behaving badly.

      Thai girls tend to be very beautiful by American corporate standards.

      It’s biology, not social construction. Chomsky isn’t right about everything. You should get out more.


      1. Our image of what is beautiful is a product of advertising, and somewhat unattainable – it takes youth and tons of makeup to pull that off. But Thai’s, by American standards, tend to be beautiful. I’ve not seen so many beautiful women in one place since Barcelona. This stuff you see on the Internet about Asian girls … Not that you and I would ever be interested … This is what it’s about. Not Chinese, Japanese, or Korean – Thai’s are amazing.


      2. Behaviorists do some nifty experiments where they show that beauty, or at least a stylized representation of a type, is a natural category: animals uniformly exhibit a preference for the similar representation of what constitutes an ideal tree, an ideal fish, etc. Even across species with regard to items they have had no previous exposure; e.g. pigeons uniformly agree on a most beautiful tree (their turf); but they also agree on a most beautiful fish (with which they probably have no natural experience.)

        This experiment is run with great regularity on the internet, where men are given a list of ten women and asked to rank them in order of looks, from one to ten. Massive agreement ensues, by social science standards.

        There is a thing called evolution, which I realize you don’t believe or understand because it conflicts with your religious belief (Front Range Leftism), that has wired men to be alert for signs of fertility in women, things that we call beauty: clear skin; hip-waist ratio; symmetrical features; wide set, large eyes; etc. This did not come from corporate America. They are the messenger in this case.


        1. I know what I think is beautiful. Take a look some time at famous people with and without makeup. Only a few are radiant and beautiful without paint and face framing and heavy eye presence. I am proud, if I can so bold, that I do not look at pornography, cas it creates an image of women that doesn’t really exist except in a few genetic mutants. Most of us are ordinary, and once we set our minds in that framework, women of all types can be beautiful. I like tall and slender, intelligent face and aging to go along with my own. I call her my wife.


          1. Take ten random women. Rank order them in terms of beauty. Then apply massive make-up etc. Rank ordering remains the same.


          2. For that matter, TV et al supplies a lot of airbrushed images: the single mother nuclear physicist who does non-continuous set theory in her spare time; the person of color who solves all the problems of the world when whitey finally gets his foot off his neck; etc. A lot to unpack here, if one cares to.


          3. You are definitely on the right path here! We argree. TV images are reality for most people.

            We spent half a day watching TV in Bangkok the day before we came home, not that we understood the language. Even over there the most typical image was a beautiful twenty-something model.

            30 Rock had a really funny episode (one of many) about how racial prejudice was returning to TV. One of the characters said that a judge on a TV drama show was white!


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