I haven’t driven in months. Yes, this is true of a car, but I’m kind of talking about my life. I suppose turning in a letter of resignation was cutting the brake lines, because now I’m going no matter what. I expected this would bring great change, but I thought I would have my hands at “ten and two” the whole time. I did not quit to travel, but that’s where I found myself. I left America for two months “India. Nepal. Home.” And now I’m in Thailand. I’m in the passenger seat and getting used to the idea.
A friend sent me an email saying he’s planning a trip to Thailand and he’s recruiting friends. This trip will be long after I’m gone, back home either working or doing poor people things (like playing street hockey) with other poor people. When I heard they would be here, I felt a little jealous. Jealousy never makes sense, but in this case it was especially true. In the kindest words possible (I have to remember to talk to myself nicely, since I’m the only one here and sometimes I can get a little harsh “way to miss the bus, idiot.”) I reminded myself that I am currently in Thailand and there’s no need to wish I would be in Thailand. Then I booked a bus to follow my friend’s will-be itinerary and took my seat as a passenger, yet again.
Stop 1: Kanchanaburi. I feel a need to make my fellow non-planners feel welcomed in this world of calendar requests and save the dates, so I will be totally honest and say that I visit a place not knowing why I’m going there. I pick a place and go there. I might google it on the way, or I might be too busy listening to Michael Jackson to do any research. I get there and see what there is to do. Figure it out and do it. When I got to Kanchanaburi, I got a message from a fellow traveler “find the safari” and indeed I did. I don’t like to rely on pictures much, but I’ll go ahead and let the pictures speak on this one because there’s not much to say about feeding a giraffe that isn’t shown in pictures.
I found myself reflecting on history more than anywhere else on this trip when I rode the railroad, over the bridge over the river Kwai, that was built during the Second World War by the Japanese. Thousands of allied forces died building the railway under the harshest conditions. It was hard to feel sorry for myself for being seasick from my floating house while remembering the brutality of war and seeing the remains of lives lost. Without planning, naturally, I found myself there on Memorial Day. “Weren’t those guys British? That’s the opposite of patriotism” says the history nerd back home eating a bratwurst for our country. “They were allies…and some were American…and I…” Alright fine, I’m not a super American.
Next stop! Ayuttaya. Another bike day (two, actually) and beautiful ruins. Again, pictures.
Ayuttaya had a really great market too. I surprised myself even with my readiness to snap a picture of a bucket of snakes, bag of frogs and tub of turtles, presumably all for sale for consumption as food, and then go to a not-so-far street stall and order of bowl of noodles and “whatever that meat is, please”.
To which she replied
“No miss! Spicy! You ouch!”
A friend in India said “We fight fire with fire. When it’s hot outside, we make it hot inside.” And I have to say, I like the approach. There’s something about a spicy hot, temperature hot bowl of soup that makes you forget about the weather. The only problem is that I’m still not very confident with my street vendors. I don’t know how to order and so I sometimes spend an hour walking around looking for a vendor that looks like they are 1. Selling something I can figure out how to eat 2. Patient with foreigners and 3. Not sleeping.
My friends back home have a lot of questions.
“Are you coming home?”
Yes, I’m coming home. Do you know how American I am? I’ll be back. It should be June 28th.
“Where will you go next?” I thought Thailand was it, but It looks like I’ll be going back to Nepal after a little more time in Thailand. Thailand is amazing and beautiful, but the call for adventure and a desire to learn more in Nepal had me book a ticket back to Kathmandu.
“What do you do all day?”
Hmm…some days I walk. Some days I spend on a bus or train. Today I’m cleaning the gum and sand out of my purse. Some days, I guess, I pet a zebra. I don’t know. What do you do all day?
Thailand is like a massage. It’s calm and relaxing there isn’t much stress…and costs a lot.
I appreciate the questions and will do my best to answer, but the best answer to these questions about my plans and where I’m going would probably be:
“Talk to my driver.”