Two Years And Counting…

3 Jun

This week marks the end of my second year teaching in Thailand. I re-signed my contract back in November, so we’re officially here for at least one more year. It’s been quite the experience thus far, with many more adventures to come! In honor of the milestone, I’ve composed a short list of the pros and cons of life in Bangkok. I’m choosing to put the cons first so we can end on an upbeat note. Here goes:

Cons

  • Missing people. It can definitely be rough feeling disconnected from friends and family back home. I feel like I am missing out on both happy and sad events, from cousins graduating college to caring for family members who are ailing. Loved ones get married, have babies, buy houses, break up with boyfriends, and I feel guilty that I am not there to help celebrate, or to lend a listening ear and a bottle of wine. Last year, we received a wedding invitation in the mail and I cried when I opened it. I adore all my friends who have diligently sent me baby pictures, text messages, and continual updates, you have no idea how much that means to me!
  • Saying goodbye. I have learned that part of teaching internationally is the yearly cycle of making new friends and losing old ones. In this environment, it is easy to make new friends because you’re all struggling through the same heap of new experiences. There’s a definite “we’re all in this together” vibe, especially with the people who are hired the same year as you. Of course, the other side of the coin is that people are continually leaving, moving on to other international schools or heading back to their home countries. We are sad to say goodbye to several amazing families this year 😦 For a more eloquent take on the issue read this: Why Expats Hate June. And this: Tips for Expats Left Behind.
  • The gender divide. I will save the indignant rant for those who are interested, but suffice to say that the gender roles and expectations in Thailand are not equal. Not even close. Not even if you’re an expat. It has gotten under my skin at times, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, I expect.
  • The ick factor. One has only to wander around Bangkok for an hour or two to notice a large quantity of Western men (frequently but not always of the dirty old variety) paired with attractive, younger Thai ladies. While some of these couples are undoubtedly lovely people in happy biracial relationships, I am fairly certain that at least some of them are in the pairing for less than romantic reasons. I will exercise self-restraint and leave it at that (again, if you’d like the full rant version, I’m happy to oblige). A coworker of mine refers to the older men of these pairings as geoducks, or GDs for short. If you’ve never seen a geoduck, take a moment to google geoduck images, and you will understand.

Pros

  • Missing people. Yes, it’s a pro too (and it seems like a weird pro I know) however, a coworker philosophically pointed out that missing people, and being missed by people, are signs that a person has a life full of loved ones. We are lucky to have amazing friends and family who we miss tremendously, and who we can be incredibly psyched to see when we do get to spend time together.
  • Thailand. Not very specific, but I really do love this country. It’s beautiful; the islands, the rice paddies, the temples, all extraordinarily beautiful. I love the weather, despite the humidity and sometimes ridiculous temperatures. I see palm trees on a daily basis, which never fail to make me happy. The many sights, smells, and sounds that were strange to me at the beginning now feel like home, and I like it.
  • Motorbikes. I know, I’m obsessed. Driving my moto puts me in a good mood every single time. It wakes me up in the morning, it calms me down when I leave work feeling grumpy, and it provides a lovely breeze when the temps get excessive. There is a unique sense of freedom and zoom! that no other form of transportation replicates. Me gusta.
  • Thai food. I have always loved Thai food. There will be more blog posts in the future about Thai food. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and frequently do). Since moving here, I have discovered new favorites, new foods, and a new appreciation for fish sauce. I have also embraced Thai style spoon-plus-fork dining and eaten soup for breakfast, omelets for dinner, and fruit with chili salt.
  • Adventure! This has become my theme word of the past two years, and it’s fabulous. Every new place we travel and every unique or bizarre thing we see changes my perspective and adds to what I know about the world. Some of the experiences have been amazing, and some I would not care to repeat. I have at times been stressed, I have been exhausted (also confused, sunburnt, and lost), but I have yet to be bored, and I love it.
  • Friends! International teaching seems to attract a certain type of person. Our theory is that it takes a particular mindset to pick up, head off into the wilderness (figuratively speaking) and settle down into a new life. Everyone we have met has been incredibly friendly, welcoming, and open-minded. It has been wonderful making new friends, swapping travel advice, and exploring Thailand with awesome people.

And now, a few photos of some of the delightful people we’ve had adventures with in the last year or two (if you’re not in this collage, then we need to take a photo ASAP!)

 

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