More Culture Shock

The culture shock continues here in San Francisco!!! As every study abroad or expat knows, when returning to the home country, some things really stand out as strange or bizarre since even though it is your home country, it might seem a little foreign.
Well, San Francisco IS foreign!!! There are entire neighorhoods here where the population cannot speak English. Also, the culture is much different than my home state of Ohio. Here are some things that have really struck me this past week.
1. In the library, I went to the men’s bathroom and saw one grunge looking guy come out of a stall and another grunge guy go immediately in. The guy who just came out slowly washed his hands and was suspiciously looking around while drying his hands. From my angle I could see the guys feet who just entered the stall and he wasn’t even using the toilet. He then exited approx 30 seconds later. Apparently there was an exchange of some sort and my suspicion was that it was drugs. The main library also attracts many crazy people and those that like to talk on their cell phone.
2. I called a Chinese restaurant for takeout. The people in Saigon speak better English than the Chinese in San Francisco. Amazing.
3. An old white lady accidentially bumped into a young black women talking on her cell phone. The young black lady’s response was “Damn, Bitch, you better…before I slap you.”
4. You cannot walk three city blocks here without hearing vulgar language. I think San Franciscans are unable to form a proper sentence without the f-word.
And people wonder why I prefer Asia…………………

Cambodia

cambodia.jpg
These last couple of weeks have been insaine. I’ve been all over S.E. Asia and thought it was time for a blog entry but unfortunately had a big night out last night and can barely think straight today. But I’m tired of watching movies yet too lazy to get out of the house.
I don’t even know where to start, so I guess I’ll just give the run down of my adventure in Cambodia. I went with my gf and buddy who came to visit me from France. The picture above was taken in the war museum and what an experience that was! The civil war just ended five years ago and they still have a lot of weapons around and let you pick them up in the museum. A visit to this place really puts things in perspective and makes you wonder how anyone could ever support a war. Our tour guide was a soldier in both the Khamer Rouge and then switched sides to the Vietnamese army or would have been executed when they invaded.
He had been shot by an AK-47 three times, his body was full of shrapnel metal and nails, he had a prosthetic leg and was 70% blind. His wife also stepped on a land mind and was killed two years ago. Some questions were asked that he could not answer because the current PM of Cambodia and some elements in Government were in the Khamer Rouge so he had to be extremely careful with his answers.
Most of the beggers in Cambodia have had limbs torn off by the thousands of landmines still strewn about the country and all I could think about was those religious zealot idiots in America who support the war in Iraq as they drive around in their SUV’s and believe God is on their side in promoting war. Damn.
On the positive side, Cambodians are wonderful and extremely resilient people. Our waitress in the restaurant was as cute as a box full of kittens who replied to our requests with “Thank you a moment please.” (Thank you and just a moment please). When she kept saying that it made us just want to give her a big hug.
Although there is a lot of misery in Cambodia, the people are warm and extremely friendly. It is also a very big tourist destination for Asians and the Ankor Wat temples are extrordinary. My gf dragged Ryan and I to about 6 thousand temples in the blazing sun but on the second day we took a break at the Sofitel pool and their wonderful swim up bar.
Cambodia is not the only place we hit, but in the past month I’ve been to Thailand, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Danang, and Hanoi. I’m pooped! For those Vets who wonder what Danang is like now, there is nothing left of the American war machine and nothing mentioned about any war sights listed in Let’s Go which means they have all been built over by economic progress.
Hanoi was also quite the experience. It’s much more solemn than Saigon and the people much more reserved. I spoke to a university student and said that I didn’t find Hanoi people very friendly but she said they were just more quiet than people in Saigon. We visited the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh and saw him in his glass sarcophagi surrounded by four white uniformed guards with bayonetts.
It was also extremely interesting hearing the North Vietnamese accent with their heavy use of the “z” sound. So many words are pronounced with the sound “zzzzz” that it makes me think that if bumble bees could talk they would speak with an accent from Hanoi. Zum zaa, zoi zzzunn! In the line to see Ho Chi Minh the guards pick out people who are not dressed respectfully enough and one stern faced 6 foot tall guard picked out a Vietnamese, said something strict and made the guy go to the clothing lending station to put on pants.
In other news, I checked to see how many hits my website was getting and it’s over 1000 a month!! It really makes me wonder who wants to read my ramblings and whatnot. Well, it’s about time for an afternoon nap so I’m gonna conclude this entry here.

A "Wapanese?"

Recently, I’ve been reading blogs, journals and so on to get myself mentally prepared for my return to America. In particular I’ve been reading about race relations between Asians and Americans just so I can have an understanding about how San Francisco might be for my girlfriend who is Japanese.
I’ve found a lot of useful information, but during my research, I’ve found a lot of bizarre and twisted cultural phenomena going on in the states these days. Apparently, America being the wonderful diverse place it is, also has an ugly side which has given rise to new terms used to describe these ethnicities mixing together. The most common which I learned in High School was the term “wigger” which was a white person acting as though they were black. We didn’t have very many Asians at my school which must be the reason why I have never heard of the following terms until now.
1. Twinky – An Asian who is yellow on the outside but white on the inside.
2. A “Wapanese” – which is apparently a white person who takes “too much of an interest” in Japan but “usually through a Western filter.”
There are a few others which I’ve forgotten. I found these terms used in people’s blogs, which then lead me to Wikipedia and then to articles discussing this topic. These articles go into depth, analyze, over-analyze, criticise, leaving the author and reader in a conundrum. Here in Asia, if a white person can speak the native language or take an interest in the culture, it is seen as a positive thing. But from the articles I’ve been reading it appears a certain segment of America (usually the overeducated with too much time on their hands) have twisted it into something negative and derogatory. The article (here) which really got me to write this post was written in the Harvard Business newspaper and reminds me of the nonsense from the liberal schools at my old university. For example, everyone is supposed to be “aware” or “sensitive” to everyone elses culture, but apparently now, if you take too much of an interest, you are called these new derogatory terms.
It’s a Catch-22! Study the other cultures and learn about them, but not too much!
I’ve pasted the article on the extended entry and commented upon it afterwards…