I’ve been having a really miserable time since my first post, but at least it seems my yearlong dilemma has been cut short. I just need to pick up some more courage, run a few of those nightmare laps of visa – plane ticket – bank account, then close my eyes, and take the plunge. I’m just wondering why it’s so hard this time, after all, I know what it’s like to fit in a different culture (I could write a two-volume book on my experiences in Taiwan), I have already been to Thailand a few times, I can find my way around, I have a rough idea of what to expect. Hang on…. could this be exactly where my feelings of uncertainty stem from? That I have expectations of returning “home”? That it’s not just an adventure any more, not an admittedly and undoubtedly transitory phase of my life, but there is a lot more at stake? But on second thought, what on earth is NOT transitory?! I’ve been hanging on to this idea of “returning to Thailand” as a last resort, as an escape route if all else fails. And now all else has failed almost completely. But what if even the escape route fails? Then I would be stuck to say the least. These feelings have been haunting me for a while now.
What are my expectations? On first mention, images, sounds, smells, tastes come back and make me smile. Fractions of moments, snippets of memories. I have always had the feeling I had seen all before, maybe in a previous life. Everything was eerily familiar from the very first day on. After my return, I was frequently dreaming about Thailand in amazing detail and vividness. (And no, I have never ever been homesick the other way round. I longed for home meals at times and of course meeting my family, but not the place as it is.) The details…. The smell of the flower garlands, incense sticks, and curry, and the rotting rainforests. The quick smile of monks as they look at me in the eye and then realise they shouldn’t and look away, the shy faces of children in small villages. The sound of honking cars and motorcycles, and music, and fish chewing coral, and the Bangkok conductors opening and shutting their money cylinder. The touch of warm monsoon rain on my skin, and the wet red clay under my bare feet. The taste of mataba sold in a certain Bangkok street, but only very early in the morning, and the phat thai in a certain Chiang Mai street, but only in the evenings, and the milkrice at Treehouse, Ko Chang. Dozens, hundreds of fragments like this, I could start to fill another volume just by listing them all.
And then comes this feeling, this impression – six months is not much time really, I can only have impressions – that in Thailand, people are not just a bunch of indifferent people, but they are held together by myriads of invisible threads and bonds. Despite the development, and modern achievements, they have managed to hold on to traditions that go beyond the surface and relationships that make a society work. Here in Eastern Europe, there is a lot of talk about Christian values and a cooperative society and caring for each other and developing potentials and freedom of personality and speech and most of all the freedom to consume…. but somehow it’s just a nice icing on an otherwise individualistic, pushy, aggressive, depressive and disintegrating cake, oops I mean, society. Maybe I just haven’t had enough insights, or I want to cherish a dream desperately, but I feel that despite the controversial issues of a modernising society, Thai people are hanging on. The fabric of society (common values, traditions, rules, and mutual obligations) is in much better shape. And this appeals to me. Just to look at it selfishly, it’s much easier to get by in an optimistic, caring environment even as a visitor than to survive on a daily basis in a gloomy, egotistic, suppressive setting. For example, let’s just take this case of dogs and men…. next time 🙂
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