Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tidbits from My Thailand Journey.

I just returned from a 3-week hiatus from South Korea, spending my days and nights soaking up the amazing-ness that is Thailand. During the weekdays, I volunteered at Ban Viengping Children's Home via Friends for Asia and during my 3 hour lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends, I explored anything and everything. Before I left Korea, I know I loved it, but now that I have returned, it's only the things I dislike that stand out: the extreme cold, the stares, the being pushed in crowded grocery stores. I know the reason and it's because I know what I am missing in Thailand by being here. I fell in love with the people (volunteers, foreigners, and locals), children, fruit, food, amazing architecture, transportation, markets, etc. My love for Korea will return with time, but for the time being, I'm feeling a bit resentful, like Korea has stolen me from Thailand. Yea, yea, yea, I know it's not true...but still, in a way it feels so.

My experience in Thailand touched me in a way I never thought possible. Rarely did I have reliable internet/did I have much downtime, so I did not blog. Instead, I usually found myself writing in a journal, which suit the experience well. Here are some tidbits taken from my ramblings:


“Sitting in the airport waiting for my connecting flight to Beijing. I stepped out of my apartment this morning and it was snowing! And it was magical as snow usually is. It helped calm my nerves. Doing this trip by myself is huge for me.”

“I sipped some vitamin water (Power C) while on one of those airport belts and was suddenly taken back to Garden Home days. I find myself being more reminiscent here in Korea. Maybe it’s because I have so much time to think or maybe it is because I am so far removed from everything in the past. Feeling strong.”


“In Chiang Mai. Not sure I’ve ever been this in love with a city.”

“Trying to learn Thai with Korean still in my head is making me a little koo koo…” 


“Love the diversity of the group…” (Volunteer group represented by Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Malaysia, America, Australia) 

“…Experiencing the negative vibe that people have toward Americans. I didn’t really quite understand this in Korea because most foreigners are from either Canada or America, but Thailand foreigners are more diverse.”


“Woke up to birds chirping outside my window.” “There are animals everywhere.”


“Feeling of hopelessness. Can’t give kids what they really need and that is a real home.”

“…Girl on a bike too big for her and a boy similar in age comes up and puts her feet on the petals and pushes her.”

“…Was holding a kid and shouting ‘fly, fly’ and making a flying motion and he started and he started saying and doing the same. Then, I say ‘good, good!’ with a thumbs up and he follows.” (Melted my heart. I think it dripped all the way down to my feet).

“Leonie and I stuck around and hung out with the boys aged 8-10. They love our presence. They are just so kind and have such bright beautiful smiles. It doesn’t seem they are treated as well as the girls, so it feels wonderful to give them treats during out walk out of the orphanage.” (We later found out the orphanage for the older boys is separately run from Ban Vieng Ping). 


“I feel so much more home here. Every person seeks to fit in and in a foreign country this is difficult, if not impossible, but here in Thailand I at least feel accepted, a similar feeling.”

“I am currently sitting on a ledge just above the Ping River and just two people away from a monk, looking onto Warorot Market, taxis pass, trees cover me in shade and most importantly, every single person looks so nice. Oh, and here come a man selling fruit drinks in a bag!”

“Love the traveling culture. There is never information that you can’t ask another and then there is the precious information you receive that you never thought to ask about.”

“In Chinese culture, it is not acceptable to point at the moon because there is a fairy that lives in it. If you do, you will receive a cut behind your ear.” (I learned this from a new friend from Malaysia after pointing at one of the most beautiful full moons I’ve ever seen. Fortunately, I am free of cuts. Loved the story because it reminded me of The Moon Man). 


“Bank fiasco solved!” (Was ATM access-less for almost a week!)


“Met a lady living in Singapore that wants me to stay with her if I visit after Thailand.”

(An elephant looked into my soul at Patara Elephant Farm on this day.)


(Traveled the longest zip-line in the world on this day). 


“Fell asleep under a palm tree near the boys orphanage after work.” 


“Today, we made the morning special by taking our two kids to the field near the boys home instead of to the playground…Whenever a person, car, and motorcycle passed, each of their free hands (the ones not tightly gripping our fingers), would make waving motions.” (These children need to relax just like any human being and they just can’t do it when constantly surrounded by so many people, so the escape was perfect.)


“It’s so weird to me how American ‘pop culture’ is world-wide. I’m sitting here with a friend from Malaysia and one from Germany and they are teaching me about what is popular in my own country…”


“Staying an extra week!” “I feel so involved in the Thai community, not so out of place like I feel in Korea. I will work harder to achieve this once home (Korea).”

“Have made what will probably be a life-long friend. She will soon be in Germany and me in Korea, which I just can’t believe. We are so much alike.” 


“We always seem to lose track of time…we love them/time with them so much.”

“It feels good to be volunteering and staying put in the same place for over three weeks. It has allowed me to feel more like I am living within the culture rather than being a tourist looking in from the outside.”


“In Bagkok with Leonie. It’s very different than Chiang Mai. We took the train here and once close to town, the rail tracks were lined with tin houses that by most standards would not be livable. It hurts my heart to see such living conditions in a place that foreigners take for granted.”


“Much of this trip can be described in one word: serendipity.”

“Saw the most amazing sunset today, but it was too quick, just like this trip.”

“I will survive played again in a bar tonight.” (During the first weekend, Leonie and I serenaded our roommate, April, with “I will Survive, by Gloria Gaynor. We then decided it would be “our” song. It then played in four different places we visited…)


“…will sift through my growing ‘to read’ and ‘to listen to’ lists when I get home.” 


“When I leave the orphanage each day, I leave about seven crying babies crying, just needing to be hugged.” (Saying goodbye each day was so difficult and why we never got out of there when we were supposed to.)


“While walking down to the field near the boys orphanage with two children, a woman driving by stops and says: ‘you are so kind to the kids. I really appreciate what you are doing. Thank you!’” 


“Just moments before leaving the orphanage and before he knew I was leaving, Golf (a child I really bonded with), walked right up to me a kissed me right on the cheek. This is usually something I do to him, but never before has it been vise versa. I then looked around at what I am leaving and almost lost it.”

“On the taxi ride home, I either had a lump in my throat or tears falling down my face. I couldn’t decide which was better.”

“I really think I will be back after my contract in Korea; I just can’t see myself not.” (And I can’t imagine never seeing these kids again.)

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