(This comes from an e-mail Mali sent to a friend in Virginia. That friend said Mali's e-mail would make a perfect blog post, so of course I jumped on that. So here, with some minor editing, are Mali's first written observations about being in Thailand. I added a few comments, in blue, just to clarify a few things.)
Bangkok is fun. I think you would like living in our embassy housing area. It feels like a village. We are a part of this expat community and we feel right at home already (we live in a planned expatriate community, centered around the International School of Bangkok. Our housing complex consists almost entirely of Americans). Our neighbors are nice and have offered to take us places since we do not have a car yet. Church members are nice and helpful too. There are a lot of LDS people from the embassy downtown, but I feel we made the right move in living away from downtown Bangkok.
We can walk anywhere here (within the community). The school is just up the street, closer than Bonnie Brae was (Bonnie Brae is the school the kids went to in Virginia, it was less than half-a-mile from our house). The pool is right down the driveway and is kid friendly. Yes it is hot and humid but we are dealing with it ok.
The poverty is pretty evident everywhere we go. But it seems like they have enough to eat and are ok with what they have. It is all they know. It makes me sad just to see this family that lives on the other side of the fence of the school, knowing that they will probably never get out of their situation. Their house is made of old windows and scraps of metal. I was walking one morning and I heard a baby crying from that house and felt so helpless.
The government does not help these poor people. We have the welfare system in America, and these Thais have nothing (Bankok has a population of just over 8 million registered residents. Most experts estimate that accounting for unregistered immigrants from Thailand's rural regions the total population is actually closer to 15 million). Bangkok is definitely a city of contrasts. Our embassy housing is in the middle of these metal shacks. Outside you see kids not having any clothes on and then you come through our gates and you see kids riding their bikes, hanging out, looking clean and happy.
All is well. I really like it here. Wish you all can be here too and experience this together!