So here we are in Thailand, and I didn’t get around to blogging any of our trip to Britain!
In my defense, the schedule was insanely busy. Four school visits, three interviews, three “Meet the Author” videos, one stage appearance, three lunches and two dinners with booksellers, librarians, editors, and scouts. Two hotels, four trains, a zillion cabs. One flu (Justine’s) and one almost flu (mine).
More about all this later. But for the moment, huge thanks to the two publicists who shepherded me around the country (this means you, Kat and Elisa!) and to all the way-cool British teachers, librarians, and fans I met.
But here’s my current concern: The UK trip was so busy that I didn’t get a chance to read up about Thailand before we got here. I don’t even know how to say “thankyou,” which is just about unforgivable. Justine has been here before and knows how to say some stuff. But women and men have different sentence endings in the Thai language, so I can’t even imitate her! Argh.
And it gets worse. About half an hour from landing in Bangkok, I was reading a guide to Thai etiquette, and came across these rules . . .
Show respect for the monarchy, Buddhism, and the monkhood. Criticism causes universal offence and may be heavily penalised.
Stand for the King’s anthem.
The head is the highest part of the body spiritually and must not be touched or pointed at, particularly by the feet, the lowest part of the body. So never use the feet to move, shut or point at things, nor step on coins or banknotes (they bear the king’s head).
Treat Buddha images with respect. Don’t point at them (especially with feet).
Step over, not on, door thresholds.
Don’t lose your temper. Anger is viewed (and avoided) as temporary insanity and prevents resolution of problems.
—Time Out Bangkok
Okay, now most of this is easy. I rarely give in to temporary insanity, except with printers, MS Word, and the occasional grammar issue. I’ve got my own head of state to diss, so I’m down with respecting the king. (And come on, monks are always cool.)
But the not-pointing part is tricky. I’m a tourist, after all! It’s my job to point at stuff in a charming, slack-jawed way. In fact, a mere hour after reading the rules above, we were cruising down the airport highway, and all these cool Buddhas were planted along the roadside, welcoming us to Thailand.
And I immediately pointed at them. Bad farang!*
Don’t point at the Buddha, dude!
Also, I’m going to have trouble not doing things with my feet. You know, like shutting doors and moving stuff around. What can I say? I played soccer as a kid.
But I’m sure they’ll cut me some slack until the jetlag goes away.
So what, you may ask, are we doing in Thailand? Mostly, we’re getting a chance to stop touring and get some work done. Our six weeks here are like our own little NaNoWriMo!
Speaking of which, are any of you writing a novel in November? It’s what all the cool kids are doing. Plus, it’s fun to say “NaNoWriMo.”
Okay, must start writing, um . . . now. More on the UK later, after I practice not pointing.
*Farang is Thai for “foreigner.” And that’s me.
PS It’s 32C (90 Fahrenheit) here. Woo-hoo!