Author Archives: James

I see the positives in multi-culturalism

In response to a comment I got from a visitor about the downside of multi-cultural communities in the big city I decided to post this reply: New comment on your post #378 “Our Multi-Cultural Family”

Hey there! That was a very interesting response on Thai blogs in regards to multi-culturalism in the big city. I suppose there is alot of truth to what you wrote. I guess I look at things with more optimism & I choose to insert myself into other communities in an effort to learn more about who it is I am sharing my streets with. I think that in cities like Sydney or Los Angeles, where there are high migration rates due to immigrants arriving in hopes of a better economic situation, people tend to settle in distinct neighborhoods where they are surrounded by their own ethnic groups. It’s pretty obvious that people do this for the support they will receive from their own communities. The fact is it has to be easier for them if they are somewhere where they can communicate in their native tongue, eat their native food, and see people who look like them considering most of the immigrants in our Western cities are from totally different cultures than what we are from. This, like you eluded to, puts them at a handicap when it comes time for them to assimilate into our society. But, this is something that our governments have allowed and its also up to us to help welcome these people and teach them about becoming a part of our own community. Here in LA I encounter many people who clearly aren’t of Anglo-American origin but they are as American as one can be. There are the Japanese-Americans who have sadly lost their ability to even speak Japanese & their Japanese blood line is being breded right out of existence. What I mean is that many of the Japanese-Americans that I’ve encountered have married Caucasian or other ethnicities….their half/half offspring go on to marry non-Japanese and within a few generations you’ve got a guy/woman sitting in front of you who is named Johnny Nagatani and you’re wondering how the heck did this white guy get a Japanese last name. The same things goes in in the Latino community here in LA. I’ve got so many friends who are of mixed ethnic backgrounds that its a normal thing….and they are just as American as I am. I think the problem that you were referring to is more in regards to recent immigrant groups. By them settling in these nearly exclusive ethnic communities it may put them at a disadvantage but it also helps assimilate them into our countries…….in the long run. It’s up to our school systems, as poor as they may be, to teach their children English and to help them become a part of the greater community. Sure, there will always be ethnic rivalries but what good will it do to gripe about it? It’s been that way from the time the white man stepped foot in North America and in Australia. I’ve lived in Latino, Asian and African American neighborhoods and I personally never had a problem, I rather enjoyed it. Maybe I was naive in thinking that by me being there would prove to those I encountered that we “people in the majority” aren’t all that disinterested in their communities. I figured we could all learn from each other. I remember when an Asian police office in LA asked me, “what the heck are you doing living here?” after encountering me during a call to my apartment building and seeing that I was the only white guy living in an all black neighborhood. You know, it never really was an issue to me but of course I noticed that I was indeed a minority. But for me that was what was so great about living where I did. Now I knew what it was like to be on the other side. As for Bangkok….there are ethnic communities sprouting up in certain neighborhoods. These groups, primarily east Africans, south Asians, middle eastern people, tend to stick together in their small communities (or apartment buildings). There just isn’t a lot of immigration going on to Thailand as there is in our cities. Well my friend….very interesting topic. Enjoy your travels to the land of smiles and next time your in LA let me show you the good side.

Happy travels,

I’ll add more later…thanks for all the responses to my first few blogs. I’m still learning the system here.

Mac’Zilla: World Traveler, Baby Adventurer

Baby Adventurer: Our son Mac'Zilla

Meet my son Mac’Zilla. Well, his given name is McKinley Nile (named after the tallest North American mountain & the Nile river in North Africa) but we like to affectionately call him Mac’Zilla the Hun. My little guy came into this world of ours in 2003 when he was born at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. I think he is a born backpacker and for a 21 month old toddler he’s already got a strong travel resume.

Backpacker Baby

He took his first airplane flight across the Pacific Ocean by the time he was 2 months old. Since that first flight our baby Mac’zilla has flown on 21 airplanes thoughout his travels to 8 countries.

Mac'zilla in Laos

He’s a tough traveler & I’m sure he’s tougher than a lot of grown people I know. With little fuss he’s endured long flights, longer drives, elephant treks through the jungles of Chiang Mai, Bangkok traffic jams, put up with Burmese border guards, taken rides on thundering loud fast boats across the Mekong, camping trips to Death Valley, California, weekend jaunts to Mexico, long lay overs in Taiwan, Temple hopping in Kyoto, snow blizzards in Utah, and played on the beaches from south Thailand to Southern California. Oh, did I forget to mention that he was “made in Cambodia”? But I assure you he is all Thai-American!

Mac'zilla in Kyoto, Japan

I should also mention that his nickname came about after a trip we took to Kyoto, Japan. What could be more appropriate a name for an active, enthusiastic toddler boy who is romping around Japan? Mac’zilla (as in Godzilla). We call him Mac for short.

Mac at home in Bangkok

Pictured above is our son Mac with his two cousins in our Bangkok home. The photo was taken in August of 2004.

Our Multi-Cultural Family

Travel, my interest in other cultures, and being raised in a multi-ethnic metropolis such as Los Angeles have all contributed immensely to the direction my life has taken. Thailand is a part of me. I share a great admiration for all things Thai (especially my wife and son).

I am happily married to my wife and we are raising our young son here in Los Angeles, California. We maintain two homes, one in California and the other in Bangkok, where we divide our time. My son was born at Bumrungrad Hospital in 2003 and hold dual citizenship for Thailand and the United States. Though he is currently growing up here in the US it is our desire that he learn as much as possible about his Thai roots & culture. Since my Thai is limited to a few key words and phrases the job of teaching the Thai language to our son has fallen upon my wife. She does communicate with him in Thai and its clear to us that he understands. As he grows older we will enroll him in Thai language courses at our neighborhood Wat Thai.

Many “farang” who choose Thailand as their vacation destination end up falling in love with its atmosphere & vibe. I was one of those backpackers who became enamored with Thailand after my first visit in 1999. I didn’t stick to the regular backpacker haunts such as Khao San Road & the south. That scene was not my thing. I prefer the northern regions of Thailand and it is there where my family and I return time after time.

I hope to add more of my personal experiences in Thailand and more stories about my multi-cultural family. At the moment I am here at work so its been a bit difficult putting my thoughts down here in Thai-blogs. I hope to be able to get to know more of you & share in your interesting stories about Thailand.

[Go to page two for more photos…]