i’m terrible with goodbyes. i’m overly sentimental and when it comes down to my last days in a place, i start mentally doing “lasts” for every mundane activity. last time i’ll go running on my morning loop. last time i’ll get chased by stray dogs. last time i’ll fish dead ants out of my hot water. last time i’ll hang my laundry on the clothesline. last time i’ll ride a motorbike to school. last time i’ll find pebbles in my rice and fish eyes in my soup. thailand has been an experience and i will miss every minute of it.
i’ve been trying to write this post for weeks but i haven’t been able to find the words to describe how much this community has meant to me. pictures and words can only do so much. i wish i could put you all on a plane and fly you here. i wish i could take you down the dirt road to school every day past the houses, rice paddies, men in hammocks and old women sitting on their stoops. i wish you could ride in the back of a pickup truck into town and sit at the pad thai stand drinking water out of a metal cup while you wait for your pad thai with fresh limes on the side. there are so many minute details about my every day life here that i havent been able to communicate with others because it is too overwhelming a task.
a little background about bamnet narong: bamnet narong is a district in chaiyaphum, the poorest province in thailand. chaiyaphum is about 4 hours north of bangkok. the nearest town is “kamping,” and it is 10 minutes away by car. kamping is a small intersection with a tesco express, 7/11, handful of shops and restaurants, gas station, and hospital. we go to kamping very frequently to grocery shop, go to the afternoon market, or use the internet at the coffee shop. our village, bantan, is down a dirt road that is off the main road going into kamping. most people who live in our area are laborers or farmers.
i leave tomorrow morning for bangkok and i will be going to cambodia the following day. the past week has been filled with goodbye parties and goodbye ceremonies. lots and lots of tears. i’ve been reflecting on what i’ll miss about thailand when i’m gone. more specifically, what i’ll miss about this tiny little town, bamnet narong, where i’ve been living for the past 9 months. while rural life has presented it’s fair share of challenges, im so glad i was placed here because i truly feel like it has become my second home.
things i’ll miss:
- endless compliments. i have always had pretty healthy self esteem levels, but thailand has been a new challenge for me. dressing like a nun + sweating profusely after 9am + physical consequences of a diet of pork and white rice = one major blow to my self esteem. but the amazing thing about thailand is that i am constantly being complimented. you so beautiful. you so lovely. i think you are so cute. i think you look very beautiful today. you are very perfect. i like you. my coworkers, friends, and students make me feel like a super model every day. my favorite comment is “you so beautiful every time.”
- food. i ate a lot of thai food in america but it just doesnt compare. there are a lot of regional specialties where we live, like green papaya salad and sticky rice. i think ill miss goi-tee-yow (noodle soup) the most. it was our weekly routine to go into town every sunday night to get soup and then watch LOST.
- local celeb status. i really dont know how im gonna go back to being a normal civilian and blending in with the crowd. at this point im used to a collective gasp every time i enter a room and throngs of screaming children running after me every time i enter school grounds.
- my personal cheerleading squad every time i go running. a group of about ten kids jump off the playground and run after me once they see me round the corner. really great for keeping up my energy. i also love the old women who give me thumbs up when i run through the village. and there is nothing more special than having children bow their heads and “wai” you as you run past.
- rice paddies. i don’t think i will ever get sick of seeing these lush neon fields that surround me in every direction.
- fresh fruit from the trees in our backyard. young coconuts, bananas, mangos, dragonfruits. all you have to do is climb up a tree holding a machete to chop the fruit. nbd. the ultimate refreshment is the fresh tangerine and pomegranate juice that is sold on the streets of bangkok.
- nightly rainstorms. this is a throwback to the rainy season but falling asleep to pouring rain and thunder every night is so relaxing.
- tiny little lizards running all over the walls! i’m particularly sad to part with the one who’s been living in my bathroom for the past 9 months…we have a special bond after he witnessed my multiple bouts of food poisoning. memories <3
- thai parties. karaoke, whiskey, fried chicken, selfies…..might top PCB
things i will not miss:
- squat toilets when i’m wearing a pencil skirt.
- wearing cardigans and leggings in 100 degree weather
- pork. if i never eat pork again i will be happy. after eating it 2+ times a day for the past 9 months, it now tastes like licking the floor of a barn.
- countless photo ops in the hot sun with every possible combination of people in every possible pose and facial expression (smiling, not smiling, laughing, frowning, head turned to the right, head turned to the left, peace sign, face frame, prom pose, etc).
- ants. there are really no words… i never want to wake up covered in ants for no reason again or watch a procession of 200 ants make their way from an unknown hole in the ceiling to the spot on the floor where i spilled a grain of sugar five days prior. and you dont even want to know whats been going down with ants in my dirty laundry basket.
- walking into my bathroom in the middle of the night to find a 3 inch cockroach on the wall, waking susan up and forcing her to stand outsdie my bathroom and spray the room with heavy duty DEET until the cockroach weakly falls off the wall and we smash it with a shoe and then im too scared to move the shoe for 3 days after and have to sleep with my door open to get rid of the poisonous DEET fumes.
- the creepy CRABS that come out of the ground when it rains???? we dont even live anywhere near the ocean??? can lead to traumatizing incidents when a crab crawls onto your window sill and a bird attacks it in the middle of the night when you are sleeping.
- having to stop in the middle of my run because a herd of cows has decided to slowly emerge from the field at that very moment and walk down the road towards me and i have to stand still for fear of getting charged by a bull as they lumber past. while i am standing in the brush on the side of the road where snakes live.
i love thailand.
to end on a more serious note, what i will miss most about thailand is the people. i have never met such kind, open-hearted, happy, caring people. thai people genuinely want to help you and will show love and compassion for strangers who they have just met. i was accepted into this community with open arms and i have been included in every ceremony, event, wedding, funeral. people invited me into their homes after knowing me for 5 minutes. my thai phone is full of phone numbers from people i have met grocery shopping, in the market, on the bus, just walking down the street. i have never felt lonely while in thailand. i have been surrounded by positivity, happiness, and a sheer love for life.
thank you to everyone (all 4 of you) for reading my blog over the past 9 months. next up is cambodia and bali and then ill be home, where i will spend 3 months catching up on all of the tv i’ve missed, drinking copious amounts of TAP water and getting used to using forks again.