It’s been a year in Thailand. A glorious, wonderful, exotic year full of love and learning. There are certainly things I will not miss about living in Thailand. The pollution, the lack of air conditioning in my hot classrooms, the terrifying near death experiences on my motorbike- but overall Thailand will always have a very special place in my heart. Here are just some of the things I will miss about living in the ‘Land of Smiles.’
1. Driving My Motorbike
Yes, I have almost died on multiple occasions. Yes, Thailand drivers are terrifying and it seems to be an unwritten rule to just not let drivers pass or enter lanes. Yes, I have crashed my bike and have the ‘Chiang Mai Scars’ to prove it. In spite of all these things, I will miss my little motorbike terribly. It is incredibly freeing to drive through the country side with wind hitting your face and the air in your lungs. Driving a motorbike connects you with the landscape and your surroundings much more than a car does. I suppose I could drive a motorcycle back at home, but what would be the fun of not being able to swerve around cars and weave in and out of traffic? No point in that.
2. The Food
Oh, how I will miss the land of 1$ pad thai, papaya salad, yum kai dao…the list goes on and on. My waist line won’t- but that’s another story. I will miss the little bowls of chili’s, vinegar, and fish sauce that are placed on every table. For some reason they haven’t incorporated this in Thai restaurants back home. And the fresh fruits. Rambutan, I love you. Please come to the United States.
3. My Students
I will miss my students terribly. I suppose every teacher feels this way at the end of the school year, but it is sad to think about them entering second grade and living their little lives without me as their teacher.
4. The Laid-Back Attitude
This attitude took me awhile to adjust to at first. To be honest, it kind of annoyed me. After a couple months though, it definitely grew on me. Classes cancelled for dance practice? Mai pen rai. Bus an hour late? Mai pen rai. Thailand has really taught me to just chill out. Americans seem to be always in a hurry and rushing off somewhere important. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and trust that the world will be right without sweating the small stuff.
5. The People I Have Met Leaving a place is always hard when you know that you might not be returning for a long while. I will miss the other expats I have met and explored with, and the Thai people who have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome in their country.
Even in the colder months in Chiang Mai when the locals are bundled up in parkas, it still feels like balmy tropical weather to me.
7. The Buddhist Culture Monks are everywhere in Thailand, wandering the streets barefoot and clad in their orange robes. They are a reminder of the gentle Buddhist faith that is prevalent in Thailand, and I love it.
8. Easily Accessible Travel
Travel in Thailand is cheap and convenient. If you need to go a short distance within cities there are songtaew’s that will take you for 20B. Travel to other parts of Thailand is cheap as well, whether you go by Air Asia flight or by an overnight train or bus. Surrounding countries are also just short flights away. Book a 100$ flight and you can be in a completely different country in a couple of hours. This is something that is just not possible in the States.
9. The Markets If you need it, a market in Thailand has it. And if you can’t find it, someone will probably help you. My first week in Thailand, I was trying to find hangers and could not communicate what I wanted. A lady who heard me brought out a pen and a paper for me to draw a picture. When she understood what I wanted, she led me by the hand like a lost puppy through the market to a shop that sold hangers.
White sand, breathtaking limestone cliffs, and crystal clear blue water- the beaches in Thailand are absolutely beautiful.
I am leaving Thailand in March and although I will miss it here, I know that it will not be my last time in this amazing country. Goodbye’s certainly don’t have to be forever.