Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Way Back

— A journal entry 

Saturday, May 25 2013

I’m in the Chiang Mai airport. I already feel worlds away from Thailand. I wasn’t expecting to become so attached; I love the people, the culture, and the way of life. I cannot forget these experiences and faces and this country I have fallen in love with. 


The world looked like a sepia photograph through my sunglasses as I walked down Huay Kaew road dragging my luggage behind me. I was decked in Thai attire—my favorite baggy shorts and blue tribal-patterned tank. I hailed my last songthaew and threw my suitcase into the back. I wasn’t in a good mood. I didn’t want to leave.

As I looked out the back of the songthaew, memories of Thailand came and went like the shops lining the street. I remembered meeting my classmates on the first day of the course and having lunch in a Chinese restaurant. I remembered the Thai barista at her little coffee stand. She always put too much ice and not enough coffee, but for some reason I kept going back.

The songthaew passed my favorite noodle restaurant where I went almost everyday for soup or Pad Thai. I'd miss that place. My eyes eventually wondered up the mountain; I remembered all the times I ran there. I never wanted to go at first, so ungodly early in the morning on an empty stomach, but when I started I didn’t want to turn around. On the mountain, I felt so strong and free and hardcore. 

Yet, it wasn’t the mountain that had won me over to this place. Most of all, I knew I would miss the children. This realization caught me by surprised. I had never considered myself good with kids, I usually politely tried to avoid them. Still, the children in Thailand were different. I remembered their innocent faces. I loved teaching them. They were endearing; their eyes lit up when they knew the right answers to my questions. They wanted to learn. Teaching them was fulfilling. 

As I sat in the back of that truck, watching the familiar streets pass by and disappear forever, I told myself over and over that I was coming back, I needed to come back. I knew I would have options after college, but this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach English. 

Despite my gloomy mood, I had to smile when I remembered the last words of advice Kristina, a fellow classmate, gave me before we parted ways: “No matter what they tell you, don’t get married or knocked up. There’s too many places to see and experience for that.” It was heartfelt advice. I knew marriage and children were adventures in themselves, yet perhaps her words were true for me. 

When the songthaew finally pulled into the airport, more memories flooded into me. The first day I arrived in Chiang Mai at this exact location I was so overwhelmed. There were so many unknowns—and I was completely alone. I had grown in the past month, I realized.

The world was a different place. 

View of Chiang Mai from the Mountain


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