A friend from home asked me last week what my favorite thing that happened to me was that week. Here is how I answered her:
At 10:30pm I returned home from dinner out with friends at a restaurant in downtown Khon Kaen. A few minutes after I had stepped through the door, my roommate Kim strolls into the room. She had just returned from a ceremony where the first years in her faculty received their special faculty belt buckles for their uniforms. She immediately started changing out of her very formal uniform into her usual jeans and T-shirt, then asked me if I wanted to go get milk with her and her friends. First I was confused by what she meant by going to get ‘milk’ thinking maybe it was slang for beer or something. It’s not. She meant milk. Though it had been an extremely long day and I was neuwai maak (very tired), I decided to go.
I hopped on the back of her moto-sci (motorcycle), and we drove through the humid night to a very hipster café. It met all of my standards of what necessitates a cool café—raw brick walls, spiral staircase up to the second floor/loft, a comfy couch, random art, and a guitar. Turns out, asking someone to go to milk with you is the same as asking someone to go to coffee, except in Thailand many of the drinks that you order at a café are some form of sweet milk. Kim’s friend arrived shortly after we did. We had ordered one of the best Thai desserts, a crepe cake (layers of crepe and cream, ours had banana in it too). Kim proudly introduced me as her American roommate, and forced me to speak Thai to her friend, and forced her friend to speak English to me. I discovered halfway through our conversation that I was the first farrang (foreigner) he had ever spoken English with besides his farrang professors. What a separate world this is.
Around midnight as Kim and I were on our way home singing Beatles at the top of our lungs, Kim declared we were going to Karaoke. I thought maybe she meant we should go to Karaoke another night, but she meant right then. We pulled up to a building that looked a bit like a renovated motel with a bright sign that declared that we were at the karaoke ‘place’. I say place because I naturally was expecting a karaoke bar, the logical place to sing karaoke. But this was Thai-style karaoke. Any group of people, small or large, that wants to sing karaoke rents a room for an hour, equipped with the appropriate number of microphones, a large speaker, and a flat screen TV for the lyrics and background music video. There I was with my roommate, one room, two microphones, too much Adam Levine, a bit of Adele, for one full hour. It’s these sorts of small, slightly strange experiences that I hope to not forget when I return to the states.