The Journey Before The Journey: Humble Pie!

Here we go! We’re going to kickoff the festivities on a serious note.

After getting off the AirportLink here in Bangkok, Thailand, I grabbed my luggage and went down three flights of escalators before reaching the base of the station.  Looking as incredulous as I possibly could at that given moment, I picked a direction and walked down the street with a huge smile on my face. A motorway starts at a perpendicular angle amount 100m off the train tracks…..so I decided to walk WITH the motorway (underneath it) and just looked for an opening into the neighborhood which was on the left side of me.

After walking about 200m or so, I found an opening and went down a very uninspiring street that looked rundown and drab (as a street would normally look like in the outskirts of Bangkok).  The looks came, the head-scratching followed, and then the “man, where the f*** am I, man” was dropped.  I walked, while dripping sweat, deeper into this neighborhood and made a right hand turn into a street that was full of homeless dogs, trash, and raw sewage.  As I was walking, a guy yelled out, “hey! Where you come from!” — drunkenly.  I told him and then a very soul-crushing stare followed — one that if you see something like this in Las Vegas, you run.

I reached a junction and saw two little girls playing outside with their full-tatted father (or someone) standing in the doorway with his hands above his head.  They said something, and then a woman helped me (in Thai) and said I can continue going on.  The girl, without any hesitation, was in awe that such a handsome man was standing before her very eyes (or so it looked).  She then said, “ok?” LOL! As if she helped me.  Giggles, smiles, and a continuation of what seemed like a super long journey ensued into the deeper crevices of what was turning out to be a slum.  The sewage was more widespread, clothes on clotheslines outside (no, this isn’t uncommon, but they were soaking up the stench of the neighborhood), and girls playing on wooden floors with a green river just below them.

I crossed a dilapidated sidewalk and came upon a temple while seeing some technical college students hanging around (I emphasize the technical college because these students are probably the worst as seen through the eyes of Thais).  Another broken bridge came, and finally I crossed the river before reaching my destination.

After that, I walked through this area again just to really get a few and to be grateful.  We really don’t understand how precious  things are in our life.  What I saw reminded me of the “green river,” which to this day, is still on my Instagram (spend 30 minutes scrolling and you’ll find it).  However, they seemed — happier.  They were playing outside, unattached and completely oblivious to their surroundings.  Remarkable, ey?

Stay tuned for days worth of blogs, travels and things coming from HK!

 

What Makes 2 Kids From The Same Neighborhood Different

After a very interesting conversation with some of my students, we talked about the best and worst secondary (high schools in America) schools in Thailand.  I wanted to deep dive into the idea of what made them so different.  Was it the environment? The parents? What are the influences?

How come I’m different? Being born and raised in Las Vegas in a neighborhood I heard gunshots ringing every night and gang activity being at its highest around 2001.  My home being robbed twice; myself being robbed broad daylight in 2003 included.  However, I was able to still not be part of all that nonsense.

African Americans who live in the impoverished neighbourhoods around America just cannot escape the idea that they CAN LEAVE.  But what stops them?

Back in sixth grade, my school had a fair amount of whites, blacks, and Mexicans.  When 2007 came around, the numbers of the white community started dwindling and the Mexican gangsters started coming in herds.  By the time 8th grade arrived, some of my friends got held back (didn’t pass to 9th grade), and the school was rampant with gang activity.

Going into high school had to be the difference maker in my life, just because when I was in marching band, I got exposed to different cultures on the outer skirts of Las Vegas.  Caucasian and Asian kids living in gorgeous houses and had something called “ambition” compared to the zoned students who were fighting to stay alive another day.

Can I give all the credit to my mom? My mom did a wonderful job at providing, but when it came to guidance, I had to trust my intuition because that was the job of my father, who ran off years prior.  I literally had to learn what was right from wrong, and being introduced to a vast array of new cultures and identities, students wearing medical scrubs or aviation khakis steered me in the ‘I can be much bigger than I am’ direction.

What’s different from an African American/Mexican/Caucasian living in a wealthy neighborhood versus another family who lives in a lower-class neighborhood? What makes a high-society wannabe in Bangkok different from the slum dogs just 10km westward from their location in Khlong Toei?  What has to happen in the mind for someone to accept their life as it is and there’s no way they can change it?

This comes back to my family.  Meeting a female name Satomi Nakagawa of Kyoto, Japan who visited me in 2008 before I visited in 2009 was the difference maker.  She planted an idea within my mind saying “there’s much more to life than to being in one place.”  To this day, I haven’t heard the voices of any of my family members for over four years because I chose to get rid of the poverty consciousness (as Henry Ford did) and do something bigger.

The psych behind decision making is so hard to understand.

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/11735293