Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Meet the Fosters.

As I've mentioned in the previous post, I had 2 foreign friends - imported all the way from Thailand - with me for the past week for a brief duration of 4 days. Originally, I cringed at the mention of Thailand students coming instead of what I (and everyone else) had in mind - foreign students from the Western countries. Honestly, I've never had an encounter with Siamese ever before in my entire life. So it's not a surprise when what I initially had in mind of them were skimpily dressed people with dirt on their faces and fingertips coming from a small village of only a mere 500 families, where everyone knew each other and bicycles were the main means of transport and computers were a far sight. Plus those torn clothing and worn-out slippers. I was more worried about their communication skills that I thought they'd probably be fumbling with their English vocabulary, pausing for moments and scratching their heads while looking at the sky, trying to figure out the next word to stumble out from their parched lips.

Forgive me for having such perceptions but I really can't help it.

Thankfully though, my ultimate fears didn't come true. In fact, Jack and Ton (annoyingly enough, they all seem to have at least one single-syllable nickname!) were nothing short when it comes to communicating with their English. Of course, there's the expected occasional stutter, what-is-that-word moments and the heavy accents but other than that, they're fine young Siamese people who have successfully changed my perception of them! Fortunately for me too, as I found out later, it's not their first time in Penang. Ton (pronounced as Toh-n) was only here last October. So there wasn't any need for me to take them sightseeing anymore, considering that they've been to all the tourist spots in Penang. All we did was laze around shopping malls that were close by. I did manage to bring them to the cinema for a little cinematic experience. Mr. Bean's Holiday was the best I could come up with - a really easy-going movie without long dialogues or complicated plots.

After all, they would probably have trouble grappling with the storyline without the aid of Siam subtitles, which, in this case didn't require much! Mr. Bean's antics are pretty much self-explanatory.

Coming from a not-so-popular southern part of Thailand, Ranong, a province well-known for its fishing industry, they're not as outdated as what I would've expected. My two foreign friends, apparently, are both computer persons too, much to my delight! Jack, a guitar fanatic, spends most of his time online chatting and learning new guitar pieces while Ton, on the other hand, a football fanatic, spends most of his time playing games, online or otherwise. Football game that is. Still, they're both not fans of the entertainment industry. At least not the English one. They churn down more on their local music and movie industry rather than the international one. Maybe they're just doing their bid on supporting their local entertainment industry or that it's in their nature not to be attracted to the outside world. The last English movie Jack remembers watching was American Pie and I'm assuming it's the 1st movie! Though, they both did watch Shutter (my favorite horror flick!) before, nodding they're head knowingly when I mentioned!

You see, the both of them are pretty much rich kids. What I initially thought were their houses - little huts build from planks hidden at the mouth of caves where they live off natural resources (bat droppings?!) - were actually 4 storeyed brick houses, complete with Playstations even. They sound more like bungalows to me, despite Jack refusing to admit that it's a bungalow. Another thing about these Thai children is that they (obviously!) come from a well-off family (preferably born with a silver spoon in their mouth!) who are not hesitant to splurge invest all the money they have on their child's education. From what they mentioned, both Jack's and Ton's parents are sending them out of Thailand to pursue their studies in the near future! Jack will be proceeding to America (for real!) for a year under the student exchange program while Ton will be heading out to Penang, Malaysia again in May to continue his studies in a Chinese school. Dad says it's because they think that the prospects of studying overseas seem brighter for them.

Did I mention? They're parents are businessmen and businesswomen!

When I questioned them about their experience at our school, what they said weren't exactly surprising. Claiming that the school students were noisy, bombarding the two poor creatures with multiple questions and that at one point they began to find it irritating. Whereas the condition of the school was fairly identical to theirs. Mind you, my school has one of the most notorious toilets compared to other schools and surprisingly, these people didn't find it all that weird or smelly! Vandalism happens at their school too - liquid paper marks across the table, broken windows and broken doors. I'm beginning to think that all schools practically encounter the same problems on vigorous vandals, boastful bullies and truancy, just to name a few. To take in into comparison also, Ton mentioned that their weather, over at Thailand, is much more hotter than what we're experiencing now, which, to us Malaysians is already intolerable to even step out of the house without sunblock.

In short, having them over for as short as 3 days (to be exact) was a refreshing experience. There was definitely a lot of cultural information exchange, which I find hard to remember at this moment. Picking up a few new Thai words (apart from the ubiquitous savadeekha that everyone knows!) as well, mom was more than delighted to have them over. Generally, Thai people are polite and well mannered - just like the Japanese - with their very warm gestures of greetings and expressing of emotions. Friendly and warm, nonetheless. Rich, no doubt! Honestly, I don't think if I can cope up with all the bows and hand gestures! Dad, in return, playing the foster dad received a bag of rice (uncooked, of course) together with a pack of cashew nuts as souvenirs from Thailand. Well, if this is really a part of Thailand they're portraying, I'd want to visit Thailand in no time.

Either way, mom was already eager and looking forward to being the next foster parent, when the opportunity comes.

P.S. : Apparently, mom has made a new acquaintance in Thailand - Ton's mom) when she called over to thank mom for housing her son. Guess where the family will be going for the next holiday cum shopping trip!