So here we are, one year after our arrival in Bangkok, back in the same airport, waiting to fly to Sri Lanka. It has been a very long year, full of airports, trains, buses and tuk-tuks. We have lived in two parts of Thailand, taught a combined 3,000 students, and traveled to seven other countries. Considering the Rachel I was on our first weekend in Thailand, I have to say I am proud of how far I’ve come.
To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. First arriving in Bangkok, the heat and humidity was stifling, my hair, skin and lungs tested as soon as we left the airport doors swished open, dumping us into Bangkok. Win, having lived in India for a year and traveled to Thailand before, knew what to expect. Although, his go-to Indian-accented English and desire to argue over every price were the extreme counterpoint to my helpless befuddlement.
The sheer number of people was mind-boggling. The traffic was congested, intermixed with neon cabs, driving on the left side of the road, and bobbing, weaving and swerving, rules of the road ignored. The streets, jammed full of people and various stands, most often reeked of garbage. And I was under constant attack, my stomach by the food and water, my legs and arms by an endless army of mosquitoes. It took a while for me to settle in, and even longer for my body to adjust.
Today, I am far better at traveling in a number of ways. I trust that a cab might take the roundabout way, but they will probably get us where we are going (and if not, we aren’t really obligated to pay). I am alright playing the occasional game of menu roulette, just pointing at a menu item and hoping for the best, all the while knowing I am bound to eat frog one of these days. Haggling over prices is a sort of game, not a source of stress. And I am slowly adapting my Western mentalities to the Thai ‘sabai-sabai’ attitude. I still have a way to go before becoming Thai-style laid back, but my immune system has stepped it up a notch, and my outlook isn’t far behind.