It’s time to wrap Thailand up. Last night was Christmas and I sat on the floor of my Apartment in Harlem eating my delivered Thai dinner and allowed my mind to wander back to that time a year ago. Wow, a year ago I spent Christmas in Thailand feeling alone and strangely at home. It’s amazing how long a year can truly feel. While the meal I ate last night was a sad representation of a culture that left such a deep groove in my being, it did however evoke the feelings that I needed to finally finish the story of how I left Thailand.
The last things I told you about, a break up, a mysterious man from Spain, my Thai, Burmese and New Zealand kitchen family. Now with a few weeks left on my hands before I was to leave the country, I decided I should see the south. Go to the beach and try to just relax and let the events of the last year try to settle into my brain and bones. I booked a ticket down to Krabi to spend a few days staring into the Andaman sea. I’d gotten so used to my autonomous life in BKK that going to this small beach town over run with sun burnt tourists slopping down overly sweet curries and fruit juices was a serious culture shock. The laid backness of the locals was typical of any beach town and the tourists made me sad and feel even more foreign than I had felt in months. I spent my time drinking beer and listening to the incredibly talented local cover bands and avoiding conversations with people in English. I booked a snorkel tour where I was crammed into a boat with unfriendly tourists and spent the day talking to myself in my own head. I took in some of the most stunning water and views I’d ever seen in my life. I saw giant wooden dicks painted gold and red and tied with ribbons. I ate curry off a boat on the beach and drank tiger beer in the hopes to numb the dullness of the people around me.
My heart was in such a state of turmoil that most of my time in Krabi was spent in a vaguely catatonic state. I wept at the beauty of each sunset, every night it was like a dagger in my heart. I let my mind drift back over events that I had fought to forget. I missed my family for the first time. I missed the familiarness of the home I had built with my ex husband and the sound of his laughter. I missed our evil cat and the comfort of a life I systematically destroyed. I stood there on the shore every night feeling completely lost inside the strange twisting and turning of my mind. I had this huge thing looming in the horizon half way across the world on an Island I had never even heard of until a few weeks before and all I could do was sit there and think about the past.
I left Krabi, sun burned and hung over with the taste of sugary curry in my mouth and headed back to BKK. Immersed back in the city I relaxed and my mind was more easily distracted. I was to meet up with Waew again, we were planning a road trip of sorts. We had planned to head down to Hua Hin, her childhood vacation town. Her family owns a condo on the sea and it sounded relaxing and lovely.
She picked me up at my hotel, I’d already moved out of my apartment, and we headed out of BKK. We listened to music and talked in-depth about our lives. Past relationships, our parents and what its like to loose a parent, food and how we feel about being professional cooks. We stared out the windows and we just enjoyed our time together. Waew was struggling to figure out what she wanted to do and was seriously considering coming to Spain as well. I was of course prodding her to do so, I wanted my friend to come with me and at that time the opportunity seemed so fantastical to us both.
We stopped in Ampawa, which has a floating market of sorts and shops over hanging the water. We walked and ate coconut ice cream and decided to take the sunset massage cruise, which was brilliant on our part. We texted with our other kitchen friends that were working away while we were gently rocked by waves and massaged by lovely Thai ladies. We got to Hua Hin at dark and decided to stroll down the beach to grab some dinner at a little local seafood place on the beach. Waew warned me to wear shoes and not go in the water, animal feces littered the beach and the ocean was polluted and would cause serious skin irritations. This was disappointing at best, but we made the most of it. We ate and relaxed then crashed early. I woke to the sounds of the waves and flat blue and gold horizon. We drove around town and Waew was not as enchanted by her small vacation town as she once had been. We decided to head up the coast and try another small town, this one was hustling and bustling but it was like an eastern European retirement swingers party, we were clearly out of place. We got a hotel room and sat drinking cocktails and watched the working girls and sad saggy flesh of tourists try to make something magic happen in what is otherwise a fairly dull life. Needless to say we didn’t stay long and we soon found ourselves on the road to BKK and me back in my 5 star hotel on Khaosan road.
I spent that night out on the strip, drinking with other tourists and flirting with men for the first time in months. I had forgotten that some western men are still attracted to western women, ha. I was leaving in a few days for Tokyo and to reunite with an old friend and that filled me with a new kind of excitement. I was heavy hearted to leave Thailand but I knew my time had come to a close there. I’d return someday to visit the friends I’d made. Thailand changed me in a lot of ways and every time I make a Khao Soi or Tom Kah I am instantly reminded of this time in my life.