“A man leaves much when he leaves his own country … it was no accident of circumstance that a man be born in a certain country and not some other … the weathers and seasons that form a land form also the inner fortunes of men in their generations and are passed on to their children and are not so easily come by otherwise.” – Cormac McCarthy
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, yet for the first 16 months I kept thinking it was. I love this job and always have, but it wasn’t until May 2012 that this became the hardest job I’ll ever love. I never found anything difficult until recently. Hanging out in Thailand for two years seemed like a vacation funded by the American and Thai government.
So what’s so difficult now that wasn’t six months ago?
Cultural clash – East versus West
They call Thailand the Land of Smiles, but what they don’t mention is how demented those smiles can be. Ever go into work early in the morning, you’re still not really awake and there’s one person who’s all smiles, waves and optimism and you want them to just shut up until at least 11 a.m.? That’s a Thai all day long.
I simply said I didn’t need a bag with that bottle of water. What is so funny?
Wait, I just thought of a hilarious joke I heard recently on my visit to meet Erin in Roi Et. Are you ready? This kills the Thais whenever they hear it. Here goes…
I want to buy a red skirt.
I asked Erin to repeat what she said after the three Thai women in the car burst into laughter. I asked not because I didn’t understand her Thai but because I couldn’t believe that’s really what they were laughing at.
There’s also the lack of privacy. When many think of privacy they think of being able to change their clothes without someone watching. This is not a problem thanks to my lovely house. What is not possible is going anywhere without half the village shouting, “Where are you going?!” If I’m returning home they shout, “Where did you come from?!” If I’m holding a bag they scream, “What did you buy?!” Sometimes at the office they like to ask, “What did you have for breakfast?” When I tell them, they laugh. I’m still not sure what’s so funny about eating eggs and rice for breakfast, but they find it hilarious.
I can’t forget the noise. I’m like an 80-year old man in 1963 who loves classical music and can’t stand that new rock and roll on the radio. It’s all just noise to me. There’s another election coming up and evidently Thais vote based on the volume the shit music is blared from the backs of pickup trucks that slowly trudge through the villages and cities with pictures of their respected candidate on big posters in the bed.
I also can’t stress how much I hate roosters. I now know there’s good reason Americans lock up these maddening creatures in barns far from the human ear. They surround my house and begin screeching at 5:30 a.m. and don’t stop until after the sun sets. They are so loud they might as well be standing on the foot of my bed. I’m thinking of putting on my sneakers one day, catching one and beating it with my baseball bat.
Rainy season is nearing, but it’s similar to spring approaching in Minnesota. In the land of 10,000 lakes we’ll have a few days of beautiful weather with highs in the mid 50s and then a day later there will be a blizzard with a high of 15. Recently there was a week with highs in the low 90s and rain almost every evening. I thought the rainy season had finally come. Now we’re back in the high 90s and no rain in sight. I am happy knowing it will be my last hot season in Thailand. Should I decide to stay here, I’m moving to Chiang Mai and getting air conditioning (not likely).
Everything mentioned was present six months ago, but they hadn’t become as repetitive. The laughing Thais were cute and the steamy weather was only making me stronger.
It’s All Good
Despite my complaints, friends and family in the states will not be seeing me soon. It’s not that bad. No, if I quit, I’d be quitting.
I realize this is the second post in a week where I’m complaining about my situation, but I know what I do have – my health. After a boring Sunday I realized I’m healthy and I wasn’t two months ago and I’m very thankful for this. I’ve been getting antsy to get some real exercise so I may start my jogging routine again. There’s also a volunteer party scheduled for the first weekend in June that’s sure to be a great escape.