(WARNING – Intense sappiness towards the end of this post. Do not continue reading if you are of a nervous disposition. The author will not be responsible for anything special. You have skin infection.)
I’m a sad Cannonball right now. Inevitably the time has rolled around when Em has to pack her bags and head home; contract run out, money depleting, visa expired, no choice but to head back to the wilds of Minnesota, leaving me to fend for myself in a town which, at every turn, reminds me of her. “However am I to survive?”, I was thinking, hand on my brow in full-on Wildean drama-queen mode, “What shall become of me in the eternity of loneliness awaiting me?”.
But then it clicked – Holy tap-dancing fuck, I’ve only got three months left here myself! What in the blue blazes happened to that time???
Yes, it seems that while I’ve been dividing my time between savouring the delights of Thai cuisine, lamenting the woeful state of Thai brewing and distilling, falling rather hopelessly in love and soaking up the sights and sounds of Southeast Asia a whole eleven-and-a-half months has passed me by. Almost a year. Maybe the fact that we have no seasons as such helps to somehow condense months into weeks, weeks into days, distracting us from the transience of time. And let’s not forget the folk version of relativity theory – a minute in a dentist’s chair feels like an hour but an hour sitting beside a beautiful woman feels like a minute. Whatever magic has worked its way into my temporal senses I’d swear I’ve only just arrived, yet my passport swears that I passed through customs at Bangkok airport on 1st September last year.
So, what have I managed to accomplish in that time? Let’s have a quick look back…
1 – Learned to ride a motorbike. And I don’t care what you say, over here they call it a motorbike. Okay, it’s a scooter. It’s still cool, just ask the Italians.
2 – Had someone hospitalise me by smashing into said motorbike. I’m working on a post about driving in Thailand, it’s just that my blood pressure skyrockets every time I start thinking about it…
3 – Decided on a new career. Yes, internet marketing is finally dead to me! After Thailand I’m heading to Korea with the goal of saving enough money to fund a Masters in ESL teaching over in the States.
4 – Went back to ‘Nam. Although in a way I never left. Visited the spots where I watched my buddies die face down in the dirt. You don’t know man, you weren’t there.
5 – Seen a sizeable portion of Southern Thailand – Khanom, Chumphon, Chaiya, Khao Sok, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Koh Lanta (Koh means ‘island’ in case you hadn’t guessed), Hua Hin, and Prachuap Khiri Khan. It’s not over yet either, planning on taking in Laos and Malaysia before my time’s up as well as venturing to Northern Thailand.
6 – Met many a new friend – some temporary due to the nature of this lifestyle, some grudging as you’re kinda forced to share the hang-out spots with other westerners and some wonderful people who I’ll definitely be seeing again on my travels. Y’all know who you are 🙂
7 – Learned the basics of Thai, an insanely annoying language. Whoever invented tonal languages needs shot. Although they’re probably already dead.
8 – Forgotten how to speak. Seriously, there are so many Yanks here that I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said ‘tomayto’ instead of ‘tomahto’. It’s like a dagger in my heart every time I hear myself slip like that.
9 – Learned – and indeed forgotten – more card games and drinking games than I care to imagine. Looking forward to a spot of Break The Circle on my return to the Whisky Society…
And last but by absolutely no means least, we come to number 10…
I met, and fell head over heels for, a wonderful girl who I can’t stand to be apart from, who makes me act like an utter imbecile, who makes me forget that I’m older than most of the buildings in this town, who soothes my pain, calms my anger, eases my frustrations and, most of all, points out when I’m being a tat and tells me to stop it 🙂 I had reservations about this trip before leaving, wondering if I was doing the right thing, if I could hack the job, if I’d even enjoy it at all. Thanks to her it’s turned out to be the best decision I ever made and I love her for it.
Okay, sorry for getting all sappy there. I can’t help it, she’s ruthlessly chipped away at my veneer of cynicism and self-loathing, turning me into – gasp! – an emotionally aware human being! Back on topic. I look back at the past year and still can’t quite comprehend how much has transpired, how utterly unrecognisable my life is compared to back then. It’s actually a bit dizzying but in all honesty I can’t wait to see what unfolds over the next three months (despite being forced to live them on a shoestring budget), I’m over the moon at the prospect of getting to see my friends back home again and I’m pleasantly optimistic about the US/Korea/US/Japan odyssey which will soon be launched if all goes to plan.
Here’s to 11.5 months in Thailand, and everything that’s still to come!