I love this place. I love it more than I’ve loved so many other places I’ve been, seen and lived. And it is home. But what is home other than a feeling of security and belonging? It’s just another place that you’ve made into something that you currently need. If I ever come back to my neighborhood here in Bangmod, I won’t know what to do. I won’t know what to seek out. I’d be lost in my once-home. That being said, I’ll forever love the Thai friends I’ve made and who they are, no matter our deep-rooted differences. And I’ll forever love the person that Thailand has shaped me into. But as for this home, I won’t know how to miss it. I don’t see a practicality in missing a place I couldn’t return to and feel the same emotions with. That’s not love, that’s yearning for the past that can’t be repeated.
This has been a definite once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I can’t express my thanks for that more. But the fact is that I’ll miss the beautiful places I’ve visited in Thailand more than this home in Baan Suan Thon. Granted, I’ll miss these places more because I know I’d have more to discover if I were to return, in many different ways. But here, in this apartment complex, I have realized in a month I won’t find myself missing it. What is there to miss? Everything I had here will be in the past, and I’ll be missing memories rather than this place, certainly. If I were here for any longer, I wouldn’t appreciate it any more than I already do. It’s not beautiful by most standards, it’s not exciting by any, and like hell it’s even clean. But a home-base for adventures, learning and self-discovery is the most important piece of the travel-puzzle, I’ve discovered.
That being said, time is almost up. I’ve changed immensely, and owe it to countless stimuli such as books, people, places, laughs, and experiences. But I’m ready for America. Granted, I need to be. But I’m ready to show people who I am now and what this home has made me. That is the only way I can show America what Thailand has meant to me, and how it became my first real home.
Thailand is a wild place full of caves and beaches, ladyboys and pingpong shows. Everything in between is left up to the imagination, and I guarantee you, you can’t think of anything that doesn’t exist here.
But I’ve put in my time. I’ve been here long enough to know what I like, what I don’t like, what parts are the true Thai culture, and what parts are recent developments or made up for farang enjoyment.
The things that have struck me the most that I’ve discovered after countless days of being here (ok, it’s been 190 days actually) are the flaws. The ridiculous, upsetting parts of the culture that have stuck from years of subjugation, from the wonders of genetics, and, among other things, from the rise of selfie culture.
Here are just a few stories I’ve accumulated during my time here.
For starters, you cannot walk into a 7/11 without having an extreme difficulty finding non-whitening skincare. They are obsessed with pale skin. And personally, I think that dyeing your skin repeatedly for years probably doesn’t have any health benefits. Also, most all Thai people with contacts choose to wear color contacts instead. I see mainly fake blue eyes all around me. A friend of mine wears them, and has claimed to us that she wears the blue contacts because otherwise she can’t see them and will forget to take them out. As a 10-year contact wearing veteran, I’m going to call bullshit on that and delve more into the fact that she found it necessary to lie and passively defend her personal choices to her friends. These people are not outwardly defensive. They rarely stand up for themselves when your drunk friend (whose name is often Karl) calls them a bitch. It’s ok though. And it’s ok because they honestly don’t know what else to do. They also often claim they are on diets, but use that term loosely because no sense of nutrition has ever been engrained in their grain-oriented society. My friends have tried diets such as no bread (resulting in a lot of 7/11 snacks and sugar-filled smoothies), no dinner (which, for May, means an oreo shake), and no dessert (ok, so this is fine, but on multiple occasions it has been awkward when they turn down a piece of birthday cake at a celebration). Obsession is real, but always internal and only vocalized when we say “that’s not dinner!” or “why not? It’s delicious!”
But still I believe the fear of being openly self-conscious outweighs the act of self-consciousness. Cue the selfie culture. All Thais like all other Thais selfies on social media, under the unsaid assumption that down the line (and most likely, that’s in the next few hours), the selfie they post will then receive lots of likes in exchange. It is a twentysome culture full of timid yet fakely-confident miniature people who can have trouble confiding in you and saying what they mean.
But somehow, it’s loveable. It’s understandable. It’s forgivable. However, it’s not me.
The struggle for existence was remote. They sat in judgement of their fellows, judging not for morals, but for interest.