I can handle the heat.
I can handle the endless mosquito bites.
I can handle not being able to speak the language.
I can handle missing my friends and making new ones.
What I can’t handle is not having 24/7 access to the wonderland that is the internet. Call me a geek, a nerd or just a general sad motherfucker, I don’t care. The internet is, quite simply, the best tool for interpersonal communication and the storage and dissemination of knowledge that humanity has ever come up with. As someone who values knowledge above most things in the world and now has a greater need for communication than ever before it’s quite a jolt to suddenly find your ability to surf strictly rationed.
It’s not that I don’t have access at all; obviously I can get online or you wouldn’t be reading this. There are a few decent cafes with free wi-fi (fast becoming an iced coffee addict because of this), there’s a hotel down the road with free access which remains open all night and there’s also wireless acess – the slowest since dial-up connections – in the high school and language I work at. I can get on the net whenever I need to really.
The thing about those connections is that you feel constricted by the fact that they’re not your own. It’s difficult just to randomly surf, you feel that every second online has to count so you post your emails and blog musings, update your Facebook status to piss off your friends back home, you check any ‘essential’ reading and then you get out of there.
I miss being able to come home drunk at whatever time in the morning, log on and see if any friends are on Messenger, try and find out what that tune they played in the club was, upload the photos I was too embarrassed of during the day. I miss being able to look up whatever vital piece of information I was after on my walk home – what the hell was that bug? What does it eat? Where does it live? What’s its gestation period? Can you make any good anagrams out of its latin name?* I miss being to use humanity’s greatest knowledge/communication tool for nothing more than killing a few minutes between jobs or before dragging my ass out of bed in the morning.
Before you ask, it’s not just a matter of finding a local ISP and getting a connection installed. In order to do so you must actually be Thai, something of an obstacle. Previous teachers apparently got locals to sign up in their names but someone got ripped off somewhere along the way, forever burning that bridge for the rest of us. There is an option to get a USB widget which picks up mobile internet wherever you go, apparently much faster than most Thai connections, but it costs a fair whack and I’m currently fast approaching overdraft levels. Might be a possibility once I start getting paid but until then it’ll remain resolutely out of reach.
So in the meantime I have to get used to this sporadic access. I know I shouldn’t be complaining, I’m in a lovely town in the tropics, starting a new life and meeting all sorts of new people. Creature comforts still help a lot though.
* – I don’t know why I place such value in useless information. I have a theory that my memory is like a giant filing cabinet in which any currently empty slots are filled with happy-making chemicals. Any time a new bit of info needs to be stored, my brain has to empty out the serotonin and endorphins into my system to make room. Sounds stupid? Are you a neurologist? Well fuck you, it’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.