Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Tourist In My Own Country

Me at Target going wild over the latest and greatest.  America - you have EVERYTHING!  My friend Tiffany captured this shot of me taking pictures of stuff last week.  Shopping with her was like Christmas.

What makes you think you've spot a tourist?  Camera in hand?  Socially awkward?  Speaking a foreign language?  Ooh-ing and Aah-ing over the latest technology or processed food wonder?  That would be me.  Yes, that would be me at Target, at Walmart, at the park, at your home, at your local church, driving on the wrong side of the road.  That would be me.

That would be me - taking endless pictures of foreign food.  When you haven't had a Schlotzky's Original or a Cream Soda...coleslaw or fresh lemonade...crescent rolls from a can in over three years - you would too. I shoot my pictures and savor each bite without shame.  And just between you and me, we Americans eat some weeeeeeird food.  Corn casserole?  Like something from another planet.  At least it feels that way.

We were driving down a downtown Chicago highway our first day on the American road.  We realized we made a wrong turn and promptly made a u-turn.  The.  Wrong.  Way.  I yelled to Treavor, "There's a car coming right at you!"  (There was!)  We laughed nervous laughter and tried to recall where we were supposed to be and in what lane and in what direction and at what speed and with our turn signal.  Geez, we Americans also have a lot to think of while driving.  You would think it would be simple for us!  Oh no - now every time we get on the road, you will hear the chanting, "Right side of the road - right side of the road - right side of the road."  In Thailand, it is the left side - and now the right side feels wrong and the left feels right.  Left = right.  Right = wrong.  You confused, yet?  Yeah, so am I.

That would be me freaking out as I wash my hands in warm water every day.  Every faucet is like a home spa.  Seriously.  In Thailand, where you have to pay for individual water heaters at each bathroom or kitchen just get used to washing your clothes, your dishes, you hands, your bum...with cold water.  Warm water - every time - is like a surprise as I wash off the grime.  Don't even get me started on dishwashers.  What?  Jeshurun had to ask my sister what they did while she and Huy were loading it the other day.  She thought he was joking.  Oh no, girl.  He wasn't.  In my house, the dish washing machine is me.  Most of the time, it is broken.

Being a tourist in another country, unfamiliar with local currency, causes one to feel like the money you use is play money.  Hey, I am sure that if you're a credit card or debit card user that you can understand what I am saying, right?  But, really, every time I pull out my George Washingtons or a fistful of change, I am out of touch with the real cost of things.  What?  That bottle of shampoo is just a dollar more than the other one?  Who cares!  Let's just buy it and get out of Target before I have a panic attack or a joy fit - both look a little like the same thing to me.  Why do we need 500 different kinds of shampoo, anyway, people?  Trying to choose makes my brain hurt and almost makes me want to succumb to greasy hair and borrowing my kids' baby wash.  Just please don't make me buy another bottle of shampoo while I am here.  I remember the first time I bought food in another country and realized later how much I had overpaid.  If you shop with me ever over the next few months - remind me that paying $5 for a dozen eggs is way too much.  You have a confused tourist on your hands.


  1. Hilarious! We really hope to see you guys while you're in Texas!

  2. Alina! You're cracking me up!!! I can remember EXACTLY how you're feeling!! I wrote an entire newsletter about it. I'm sure the next time I go home, whenever that is, it will be even more strange as it's been so long.

    I remember freaking over the white eggs and the size of the white eggs, the height of the grocery baskets, the size of the milk jugs, the entire row dedicated to CEREAL, how many different types of hand wash. I was in awe over all the different types of hand wash. AT the time in Thailand there were only two, the red one or the green one! ; )
    My family would have to grab me and pull me along as I wanted to READ all the labels that were written in English....ahhhh

    Have fun and take notes! It will be fun to look back on!

  3. Love this! At least you didn't panic and run out of the store. I have heard of people who did this.

  4. i LOVE you!

  5. You're so cute! Having been here only 7 months so far, I can't imagine how you are feeling. I'm still in the "missing America" phase and can't wait to get back to "normal' where things are cheap and I can talk to whoever I want to and they'll understand me! So many things I miss, like going to Walmart in pajama pants and a t-shirt--just because I can! ;) Ha! Looking forward to hanging out with you if we can!

  6. Glad to crack you up, Amber! The eggs did freak me out. I told a friend about how eggs aren't kept in the fridge in Thailand and she almost didn't believe me. Cereal is amazing - but my biggest problem is deciding what to get. What are your faves?

  7. I almost did, honestly. But then, I entered the baby section and was compelled to stay. American baby gear just blows my mind.

  8. Love YOU!

  9. Haha...I have been saying to myself that I can't wait to get back to Thailand where things are "normal" again. In a few years, i'm sure you'll say the same about where you are. Look forward to seeing you!


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