wander process

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Fare-thee-well, Bangkok

Bangkok is such a strange place, full of contradictions.

And I am such a strange person, probably stranger than I realize.

I think that’s why we go together so well.

Bangkok has such a horrible reputation, but in the past four months, I’ve come to love this city like none other. I think that it’s been made fairly apparent through the blog, and certainly if you’ve talked with me. A lot of people have thought me brave, to move here, but I think that in truth, it’s the only thing I know how to do. I fling myself into new and challenging situations. How will I grow if I don’t continually push myself in new environments? At least for now, I’m young and I can get away with doing things like moving to the other side of the world.

I am not leaving Bangkok because I want to, but because I have to. I suppose that part of me wants to, to engage in my new job. My brain has been a bit idle lately. I haven’t actually taught since October, due to flooding. I have more or less been given a 4 month (paid) period to explore this city and I partially feel guilty but I also feel as if I lucked out. Most of my spare time has resulted in hundreds of unedited, undeveloped, unposted photos. My love of photography blossomed in 2011 like I never would have guessed it did.

The rural area will be both unfamiliar and familiar. I will be a real workin’ woman again, using critical thinking skills I hopefully honed as a Development Studies major. I’ve lived in Isaan before but I never would have guessed I would move back. I will have the opportunity to learn Thai and I will have the solitude to read like I was never able to during school. I have enough drawing pens to make any second-grader jealous. I’m excited about the move and the ways in which I will learn about the world and grow as a person in this new job. I’m torn though – I don’t know if I’m a city person or a country person. I won’t even live in a town – I’ll be living 8km from the nearest town! I think that I am maybe a city person who likes to go to the country.

Above all, I suppose, comfort is terrifying. How am I growing as a person if I’m not challenging myself and not learning how I can help others? There is such danger in contentment. I personally feel like if I’m comfortable, then I’m not doing something right, I’m not engaging with the world around me. I love Bangkok, but I’m exceedingly comfortable here and it’s time to learn more.

And so I am where I often find myself. It’s late at night. I’m moving shortly. I haven’t started packing. I will spend tomorrow going around the city with friends, because that is more important sleep anyway.

I want to close with these two quotes I found during my first visit to my favorite (and Bangkok’s only) photo gallery, Kathmandhu. Sorry, I know it’s cheesy to include quotes but they rang so true when I first arrived in Bangkok. And they still hold truth now.

“I experienced Bangkok as a city in which the mixture of extreme contrasts, of peace and chaos, cleanliness and defilement, shadow and light, creates a completely self-contained, new, unbelievably interesting and over-powering entity” – Rui Camilo

“Bangkok is loud. And quiet. Bangkok is dirty. And clean… And still, each alley is a village unto itself. Bangkok is perhaps not exactly beautiful, but a pleasure and an experience for the senses. And that really is fascinating.” – ???

And I will close with this – Adam arrived and quickly made the observation that while in Bangkok, every one-hundred breaths you take in, one will be foul. I spent most of my time here stuffed up from allergies and once I could smell that one-hundredth breath, I was more in love all over again. From the brightness of the cabs to the one-hundredth breaths, Bangkok really is a complete assault on the senses, in the best of ways. I love Bangkok all the more for everything it is and will always love the time I spent here.