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This is the end. My only friend, the. . .

August 2, 2010

This will be the last post I write in Thailand.  *sigh*

First off, Chatuchack Market was excellent.  Bigger than anything I could handle.  There must have been dozens of kilometers to walk to ensure you passed by every shop, of which there were thousands.  I’d pass by entire neighbourhoods of shops that I simply didn’t have time for.  I bought some great souvenirs and spent a pile of money but it was all worth it.  Yesterday, as part of my re-entry into Western culture, Ashley and I saw Inception at the movies.  The movie was good, I really enjoyed it – strong cast, excellent pace considering the length, fascinating concept with Hollywood razzle-dazzle to fill in the gaps but I felt the movie tried to appeal to too many audiences.  The theater was huge.  More grand than anything back home and better chairs.  I toured about the gargantuan shopping complexes on the way to the theater.  I didn’t like it and I felt very confounded and out-of-place.  I know Bangkok does things a little extreme but the whole establishment seemed very grotesque.  I felt concerned about how much it resembled and seemingly trying to imitate Western culture.  I feel like that may have much to do with the fact that for the better part of a year I’ve lived between an ammenity-scarce island and an ammenity-less village where I had come to appreciate more of the slower, less refined aspects of Thai culture.

Anyway. . .

Tomorrow morning at 8 am my flight departs from Bangkok on to Tokyo and finally Vancouver.  For all I’ve thought about coming home and how I’ve felt myself distancing from Thailand there is a cornucopia of mixed emotions going into this.

I can’t begin to identify or understand all the ways Thailand has had an influence on me or how it will resonate with me as I begin to carve out a life for myself in Canada.  Right now, it feels like I’ve crossed a threshold – a transition into something resembling traditional adulthood and my mind races a mile a minute as I try to understand how I can best understand and make the most of this moment and opportunity.  It’s like a catharsis of sorts and I’m feeling very overwhelmed by the whole situation.

I feel like having come to Thailand I’ve allowed myself to have the time, space and freedom to live life in a new and structureless environment.  Something that has forced me to arrive with nothing, save some meager savings –  No friends, jobs, homes, adequate language skills, someone to tell you what to do, where to go or when to do it.  No predispositions you would expect of a developed, western nation and in that sense it leaves you with a very raw and malleable opportunity to do some very sincere self-discovery.  And my god, what a ride, it’s been.
The last time I was in Canada seems like a lifetime ago, and in a sense I feel like it has.  Not to say I’m coming back as a completely different person but when I think about that idea, I’m always reminded of a song lyric by Fastball that goes “I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same”.  Or something like that anyway.
One of the most significant things I see differently now, about me coming home is the opportunity to start fresh in the sense that I’m coming home to begin a new, important chapter of my life.  Time away from home has helped develop a different perspective of life back in Canada and for me to critique my own lifestyle and habits in a way I don’t think is possible when you’re always in the midst of things.  I can see more clearly what it is I like and don’t like about my own life back home and I feel like I’m in a much better place mentally and maturely to focus on the things I want for myself now and as I grow into adulthood.  It’s nice to talk about and be encouraged by such promotions, but of course time will tell how I readjust and whether or not I follow through with and realize such ideas.

Some of my friends are skeptical.  Not in a malicious or negative manner but skeptical all the same that I’ll be able to slide right back in and be another cog in the great Western Machine.  I’m sure that there is some truth to that sentiment but at the same time I want to come home and I understand that to live in Canada means putting up with all the bullshit that comes along with it.  It also means sacrificing this “sand box” approach to living your life but I’m also somewhat grateful for that.  For everything I’ve done I wasn’t successful enough to perpetuate a 100% independent lifestyle, completely detached from the support of family back home.  I’ve had to borrow money a couple of times and depend on my family for keeping my “Canadian life” in order such as making sure my taxes were done and finding me a place to live in September.  I’ve wondered though how it would be different if I were adamant on never going back.  I think I’d have a little more resolve to stay employed or play to my strengths and teach English in the long-term but to go down that path meant closing other doors and I was never prepared to fully commit to that.

In any event, my conclusion of Thailand is the end of an era for me.  A short one, but an important one nevertheless.  This characteristic/personality tweak that I’ve been going about it is being cut off from its source material and that is a little disheartening.  How much more would I learn about myself if I continued to live and learn the way I am now?  At this point, it doesn’t really matter I suppose.  This trip has been such a milestone for me that I feel like it’ll take me long enough to fully digest everything anyway.  And besides, it’s cheating to depend on a lifeline from home anyway.

That being the case Thailand has been, as my friends would joke, “tremendous” but this act has gone on long enough.  I hope I can come back some day – the teachers in Nanongthum are already asking and it’s warming to know I’ll have a place to stay but the world is a big place.  At least my time over here has made it seem a little bit smaller.

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Next time I write will be back in the land of loonies, maple syrup, etc.  I’m excited.

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2 Comments
  1. Sue Dolan permalink

    Hey Ben!
    Some people just become another cog on the wheel, not realizing it. Some deliberately choose to do so and some choose not to and start their own new wheel. Welcome back. Happy travels across the West to Ontario.
    Sue

    • Hey Aunt Sue,
      I meant it in a very broad sense, as in if you chose to participate in organized society, including diving in holiday destinations, you’re part it. And Canada like many highly developed nations is very good at finding a fit for most. Unless you’re growing your own potatoes and weaving home-spun sheep’s wool or possibly the type of resident that enjoys tax exempt status we’re all in this together. I just want to feel like I’m the one hammering my gear into place, if you know what I’m saying.

      See you in few days or so!

      Ben

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