Things that surprised me at the beginning just seem normal now…like seeing 4 people on a motorcycle, paying 30 baht (1 dollar) for a good, substantial lunch, or people walking into my office trying to sell lottery tickets. But also, being away from things has also shown me things I took for granted in the US. They say you don’t know what you have, until it’s not there anymore. For instance:
I never knew how much I liked hugs until I came to “The Land of Smiles”, which could easily be termed as ”The Land With No Hugs”. Thais are not the touchy feely people at all. I never considered myself a touchy feely person either before Thailand. When the Peace Corps Volunteers showed up for our mid-service conference in Bangkok, the first thing we did was to go around and give everyone huge hugs. There have only been a few exceptions to the hugless norm at my site. Sometimes after I get done teaching at the elementary school, the 3rd graders will come up and hug me. It feels SO REWARDING! It makes my whole day, even my week. To know that you are loved by a child — so simple and innocent and to have that love manifested in a hug…well, you just can’t put that into words.
I can now understand why in job applications the first quality they list is strong communication skills. It is very hard to get anything done without them. Also, I realize why good communication is listed as a must for successful relationships. While it is not impossible to develop a relationship with limited communication (as I have done all this past year), it definitely makes it easier! There are a lot of old, overweight European men who live in Thailand with their Thai “wives”. The man doesn’t speak Thai well and the women doesn’t speak his native language or English well, there are exceptions of course. I would hate not being able to fully communicate with my spouse. Once, I was invited to a wedding where a Thai girl was marrying a Japanese man. He couldn’t speak Thai and she couldn’t speak Japanese. English, which neither could speak well, was what they used to communicate. Ahh! That would drive me crazy. Full communication is something I am looking forward too when I go back home.
I don’t think I need to expand on this subject. I have talked about it enough in the past. Being stuck in “Midwest July” is great for the first couple months, but after a year, I would like something to look forward to. Spring happens to be my favorite season with the tulips, daffodils, lightening bugs, flowering trees, being able to comfortably wear pants and no jacket. Not to mention my birthday is in May. Having my birthday when it feels like July just doesn’t make sense. (Sidenote: I was NOT jealous of the snow everyone received in May. It just made me laugh. Winter should end in March, that’s my rule.)
*the Catholic Mass
Although, I am sure in a year when I leave Thailand, I will have a new list of things I miss. I guess that is just part of living in another country for a year