Thailand how I love you. I love your warmth. I love your food. I LOVE SONGKRAN!
The main reason for going to Thailand was to experience a holiday abroad. I am glad we made this one. It is Thai new year. Things are washed new with water. It is a huge water fight throughout the country.
Upon arriving to Bangkok we jumped from the mini van and into a taxi. We gave the driver the address of our accommodations and he asked us if we had GPS. One thing about traveling with American phones is that Sprint keeps them locked. It is not so easy to just get a sim card. I somehow forgot my phone I bought in Nam years ago with different sim cards. I was surprised that the drivers don’t have their own GPS. Needless to say he got lost. We drove in a maze of alleys. The driver would stop and ask other drivers how to get to the hotel. He finally called the hotel and the hotel directed him to the right location. This of course made us very nervous. How would we find the hotel after a day out? The room was small and clean, but the bed was hard as a rock. We had gotten a little spoiled. Backpacks were set to the side. We opened our balcony door and the deluge began. We thought it was appropriate for the new year celebration. Shortly after the rain slowed to a stop we went to venture out, but not before another hand
drawn map was made for us. We shook our head and went into the dark alley of Bangkok. It was easy enough but we didn’t stay out long. We were out long enough to eat, get some snacks and water guns for the next day.
During the night I made arrangements with a former student from Intrax to meet at Wat Phra Kaew. We didn’t expect to take so long to get there, but after figuring out the train and realizing our map wasn’t to scale we tried to hurry the adventure with a tuk-tuk ride. I’d been advised to not ride them, but it was fun until the driver took us to the wrong pier and they tried to sell us a boat cruise. We wanted the boat taxi. When we made it to the correct pier that boat was packed to the gills. It was similar to riding San Francisco MUNI where the tourist don’t know the drill and won’t move into the boat. Of course, everyone wants a view and a chance to take some photos. Each pier more and more passengers disembarked then we made it to the temple compound.
We pushed through crowds of people at the pier and the market outside. People were everywhere. I didn’t know how I was going to find my student. We were late, we didn’t have a specific meeting spot and it was HOT. We wandered around the temple wall. I was looking for two beautiful Thai girls amongs thousands and thousands of Thai people. Over heated with no particular idea of what to do we just sat down. I soon became very popular. First a young woman sat next to me and handed her phone to a friend. Of course I posed and smiled. Then another young man came by to take pictures. Soon there were a group of girls sitting next to me and we had a small photo shoot.
After smiling so much I got hungry and thirsty. We got some meat on a stick and some fresh watermelon. Our brains began to function a little more. I was definitely sad I couldn’t find Tam but we moved from our spot and decided to go into the temple. Of course a normal person in Thailand would wear shorts in the heat, but not in Buddhist temples. You need appropriate attire. We stood in line for our borrowed attire. Long pants for me and a long skirt for Karli. Add 20 more degrees of heat.
Once inside I was in awe. I had never seen anything as beautiful as the structures and the compound. Unlike in Angkor Wat, where I felt that all of the tourist footfalls took away from the greatness of the area, there was padding of bare feet and those in prayer and reverence. Everyone respected the quiet prayers of those who took time to sit in front of the Emerald Buddha.
Everywhere incense was burning and gold leaf was place on smaller Buddhas and water was poured over it. People had unopened lotus floweres that they dipped in water and then onto their own heads. I had never seen anything like it and I personally felt amazed. Paintings, sculptures, statues and the bling bling of it all. I was sure that if Tam was with us she could give us some information. We took our time, but it was very hot. We did walk in two circles trying to find our way out of the complex to return the pants and skirt. Wearing that shit was hot.
Once we returned the clothing we decided to walk away from the fray. We got lost again, but found some shade next to a creek…Here we were able to give each other our appreciation of one another. It’s not easy being married. 7 years and counting 11 years total together. It’s not easy traveling with others. We really have been able to work everything out. We have been each other’s strength, energy, patience and adventure. I wouldn’t travel with anyone else really. When I consider the five weeks of only us, it makes up for the long hours Karli puts into her career. She works very very hard. I kind of do, but I don’t have to bring my work home. When I think of the hours I will soon put into graduate studies I need to revel in the times we have together. It is so easy to trudge through the mundane for me. Intrax lifts me up everyday. I get to have a travel experience in SF sort of, but that time isn’t always with Karli.
After some regrouping we hired another tuk-tuk to take us to the sky train. We thought that we needed to get back to wifi. I wanted to see Tam. I just couldn’t connect anywhere to message her. Karli wasn’t done yet. We walked alot. We were hot, but what about the water guns in our bag. Empty but ready to play.
Looking back on this draft of an entry, I definitely do remember the feelings of appreciations. I wish that particular appreciation had been enough to bouy me against the other trials we had in our marriage. Like a truly manipulated and co-dependent individual I have since emerged as an independent. This old unpublished draft is a reminder of the good, but also my daily struggle that went beyond what we had while traveling. It’s been over a year since we separated. It will soon be a year since the divorce. I have come to terms that it wasn’t suppose to be forever. There is still a tad bit of bitterness and so be it. Time…
I may never get over being bitter. I no longer have a desire to bad mouth or even complain about it. It has definitely stopped me from caring about others. I have myself to love, because time and time again I can only do for me. Humans are human. I think that is what hurts the most. When it is just me there is no one to blame and it is easier to move on when I know I am responsible for it all.
I will return to Bangkok. I will make a concerted effort to meet with my former students because they always gave me joy. There is no question about them. As Thai people are amazingly Thai. It’s a culture I am drawn to just after the Vietnamese culture.