I am about two months into my time in Thailand now. There are many things to say. About my work. About my surroundings. About the stories of the people I meet.
But to answer the perpetual question: Do I like Thailand? Life is sapson (complicated – the first and only complicated Thai word I know) and sometimes a survival guide would be great. Here’s mine.
Buy a motorcycle. Old. Unlicensed. And maybe with some parts missing. Just to make it exciting when you explore endless rice fields with no soul around for miles and miles. Or when you go see some wat tower taunting you in the distance on a forest heavy mountain. Feel as if you are in an impressionist painting and breathe in everything.
Buy a good rain coat and then just set off. Ignore the friendly warnings. Always smile back. Get caught in a monsoon rain, heavy as a waterfall. Look at the word around you through a curtain of water drops. Listen to its music. And as it weights you down just remember Singing in the Rain and dance. Come on, a little water never hurt anybody!
Try every dish set before you. Food is a complicated business here. Messy most of the time. Collective often. Delicious always! Just don’t go near Seven Eleven. I have a feeling that stuff will make you glow in the dark. Forget goat cheese and avocado on sour bread [sigh]. Stop being a falang and get used to having chilli in your breakfast, take in the discounts on live frogs in the market and get excited over discovering every single exotic fruit you lay your eyes on (with good reason). The local king fruit, durian, might smell as dirty socks but it’s just as satisfying as Winetou’s peace pipe. I’m also learning to eat fruits that taste like lemon with honey smothered in chilly. My taste buds will never be the same.
Meditate under the Bodhi tree and feel for a moment that this is exactly where you are supposed to be. Understand why Thai people place ribbons around beautiful, old fig trees, build little spirit houses next to them, and show their respect as they pass by. As animism and Buddhism collide, I find this to be the most beautiful tradition of them all. A nation that holds trees sacred. My sort of place.
Find a master to teach you. Ever wondered why you only hear about Buddhist monks? Monks colour the land with their orange garbs, but it is the unassuming nuns in white that fascinate me. The quiet rebels. Their bodies tiny. Their hair shaved off. Their smile invites you to taste serenity under their roof. As I bow my head to a Buddha statue in a ritual I understand nothing about, I pour water from a small plastic bottle into a tiny bucket to the harmonious chant of the nuns. They finish with a story about a Canadian doctor who once came to learn with them and she never went back. They extend an invitation to me. I shall return.
Get to know its people. They are just like you 🙂
So, to answer your question … Yes. I quite like Thailand.