Getting around Bangkok
Hi there Cris – how are you doing? I forgot to ask you last time. If you don’t have a digital camera, how did you manage to post all those photos? Do you have to scan each on in? Your dinner sounds nice – but I am intrigued by the name of the sauce, as it doesn’t sound very English. I wonder who came up with the name? To answer your question, a shop that sells needles, thread, etc is called a haberdashery shop. Its a lovely, but quite old-fashioned, word.
My sister and I do look very alike. As I get older, I think we have started to look more and more like each other. Can one’s appearance really change that much over time? You spotted me in the photo! I am the one clapping my hands on the right.
Now I have to confess something to you. I am also terrified of scary movies (when you said, ‘impressionable’ I think you meant ‘scary’ or ‘frightening’). I can only watch them if I close my eyes and put my hands over my ears. It drives Steve mad.
There is nothing much that drives me up the wall about living in Thailand. I can’t stand the heat in the summer, but that’s my only gripe. I don’t use public transport much apart from the excellent skytrain system, which is like an overhead monorail going through the heart of the city. It can quickly take you from A to B passing over the crowded streets below, but then you have to walk to wherever you are going. It’s cheap, fast and economical (just like cooking with pork steaks!)
Picture from www.tapa-king.tripod.com
I sometimes just get a taxi to work, though, so I don’t get too hot going to the office. Taxis are cheap and plentiful. There is also a subway system and of course armies of buses – but I find these too hot to use. We have a car and we have a parking lot in our building, but we don’t have to pay for it. What is popular here are motorcycle taxis. A lot of the streets here are really, really long and there is no public transport down them, so there are armies of guys on motorcycles, who will take you all the way down a street for a minimal charge. They can avoid traffic jams by driving on the pavements. They all have a uniform of a plastic waistcoat with a number on it - to show that they are legally registered with the local police, I think. Here is a shot of them.
Picture from www.news.bbc.co.uk
Your question about vocabulary is an interesting one. There is nothing wrong with being too lazy to look up words in a dictionary. In fact, if you did this every time you came across a new word then it would take you ages to read anything. You are right to try and work out the meaning of the word from the context. The key to being successful with remembering vocabulary is to try and use whatever you learn. That way, you will commit the word to long term, rather than just short term, memory. If you don’t use something, you forget it. I learnt German at school, but I can hardly remember a thing now as I haven’t spoken any German for such a long time. You could keep a notebook with new vocabulary in, try to use every new word in conversation or make flashcards and revise them on your 7-block trip to work on the bus. In her blog on Tuesday 16th October 2007, Rachel also has a couple more ideas for using and practicing vocabulary. Have look and see if these appeal to you.
Finally, you ended your blog with the phrase ‘*I’m really torn out*’. I think you meant ‘worn out’ or ‘tired out’. But this got me thinking about the verb ‘to tear + preposition’ and all the different meanings it can have. You can have to tear out, to tear apart, to tear up and to tear off. Have a look at the following sentences. Do you know verb would you use in each case? Can you find other synonyms for these verbs or describe what they mean using different words (this is also a good way to improve vocabulary)
(1) Secretary A – What did you do with that rude letter from Mrs Jones?
Secretary B – I didn’t reply. It was so rude that I ______ it ____.
(2) My boyfriend has left me. I feel completely ________ ________.
(3) Student A - Do you have any paper I could have?
Student B – Yes, no problem. I can ______ ______ a sheet from my book.
(4) (John went to see his bank manager with a business plan . He wanted to borrow $100,000. He comes home to his wife Mary in the evening)
Mary: So, did you get the loan, honey?
John: No, I didn’t get the money. In fact, they ________ my whole argument ______ and told me in great detail why it wouldn’t work.
Mary: Oh well, perhaps you can just rework it and present it to them again?
John: No way. I’m going to _______ this one _____ and start all over again.
(5) It’s so hot today! I wish I could just ______ ______ my clothes and jump in a pool.
Cris, as always, I have reworded a few things that you wrote. Can you find them (5 things). And here are the answers to the gap-fill from last time. 1.amazing, 2.cars, 3.venue, 4.gorgeous, 5.photographer, 6.bridesmaids, 7.lucky, 8.sunshine, 9.nephwe, 10. buffet, 11. band, 12. night owl.
Look forward to blogging again soon! Best Wishes,
Intrigued (adj) – curious
To drive someone mad (vb, informal) - to make someone angry
To drive someone up the wall (vb, informal) – to make someone angry
A gripe (noun) – a complaint
From A to B (fixed expression) – from your starting point to your final destination
Armies of – lots of
to appeal to someone - here means if you like it, or not
Here are some responses to some comments from readers. I know this will make this blog quite long – hope that’s OK with everyone. Thanks to everyone for the compliments about Louise in her wedding dress. I have passed them all on to her!
Responses to some comments from 11th April
Yanko – thank you for the carbonara recipe. I love pasta recipes like this – quick and simple.
Tanya (Ukraine), Pary and Paulraj – you asked me to say more about Thai massages. I find them very relaxing, but I prefer to be ‘massaged’ rather than ‘pulled’. Sometimes they pull your joints and try to ‘crack’ the bone, which I absolutely hate. If you have an oil massage, you feel relaxed afterwards but you need a shower to get rid of all the greasy oil. Price is difficult to say. Like so many things, you can pay very little or you can pay the earth (i.e. pay a lot). For a basic foot massage I pay around 200 Thai baht, which is US$6 or GPB 3. For foot massages, they use the science of ‘reflexology’ which targets specific areas of the foot. This link should give you more information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexology
Carme asked me about tapas bars in Bangkok. Yes, we have a great little tapas bar very near out house. I am not sure how traditional or authentic the food is, Carme, but it seems good to us. We always have patatas bravas (fried potatoes), calamares fritos (fried squid), chorizo, ensalada con tomate (tomato salad), gambas a la sal (salted prawns) to name abut a few dishes. And of course, all washed down with a lovely rose rioja! The coffee is, in my opinion, one of the best in Bangkok. There are also some great tapas bars in London.
Responses to some comments from 12th April
Chaos – you asked me about the phrases ‘don’t know nothing’ and ‘he didn’t tell me nothing’. This is technically incorrect use of English, as you rightly point out. The correct grammar is ‘I don’t know anything’ and ‘he didn’t tell me anything’. However, people in many places do use English incorrectly, like this. Why do they do this? Well, there are many versions of English. As teachers we try to teach what is grammatically correct, but there are many ‘types’ of English spoken all over the world. Think about even simple vocabulary differences between British English an American English. Language evolves and changes, and sometimes this means that people start using it in a way that is not ‘correct’. But it is ‘real usage’ because that is what people say in a given context. If you would like to know more, have a look at the comment by Rachel in Carrie’s BBC staff blog, 11th April about ‘World Englishes’. Let me know what you think.
Tanya (Ireland) – in a nutshell (i.e. to summarise very briefly) the Irish problem is due in some part to religion. Some people wanted Ireland to be Catholic, some people wanted it to be a Protestant state. The history is long, but in the early 20s the people of Northern Ireland elected to stay part of the UK, while Eire (southern Irelend) was formed as an independent state. But, don’t quote me on this – I’m just remembering my school history.
Vladimir – thank you for reminding me about the date of the first man in space, which is indeed an amazing achievement.
Mahjabeen, Ana Paula, Anna – thanks for the compliments about the kids. They are little angels (some of the time…)
Responses to some comments from 14th April
Hyoshil – sorry to hear about the lousy weather. I hope you have a good, strong umbrella.
Merce – we all just relaxed at home over Songkran. Went out shopping a couple of times, went to the park, had dinners with friends, that type of thing. I enjoyed just spending time with the family.
Praveen Raj – happy Tamil New Year. How did you celebrate this festival?
Tanya – that’s an interesting question. Should we say Cris’ or Cris’s? Well, I checked in the Cambridge Guide to English Usage. There are some many rules about how to use apostrophe -s, especially with proper names. They recommend that names which end in –s whould be treated the same as any other noun that ends in –s and therefore we should say Cris’s and not Cris’. Also interesting to hear that Dublin still has transport problems. I worked in Dublin for 6 months in 2000. I loved it! The Shelbourne Hotel does the best breakfast in town. What do you like most about living in Dublin?
Hi Jay – I have been to Kerala and loved it. Thank you for telling us about VISHU.
Anna and Vladimir – I know, it’s funny to think of New Year in April. But that is part of the joy of living overseas – you get to find out about and celebrate so many new festivals.
Ana Paula – I know what you mean about the smell of a new book. Steve, my husband, is a writer and also loves the smell and feel of a new pad of writing paper. I also love espressos!!! I haven’t heard about Irana Palm. Can you tell us more about it.
Hello also to Silwal, Heyula, Anwar, Paulraj. Thank you for all your good wishes and for blogging on this site. Please keep your comments coming.
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