Being very far away from home, around any major holiday, especially one like Thanksgiving, will really get you thinking. Thinking about friends, family, home, and life. We live our lives year to year, holiday to holiday, birthday to birthday. So when these occasions come around, it’s hard not to sit and reflect about what the day means to you, whether you want to or not.
As I taught my kids the other day, Thanksgiving in America is all about being thankful. I asked them to tell me things they were thankful for and make turkey hands like we used to in school. It’s interesting to see that even though the kids had no idea what Thanksgiving was or have ever had turkey or stuffing for that matter, their Thai turkey hands were the same as any American kid’s turkey hand. All were filled with the same things we are thankful for: family, friends, medicine, school, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and pets. One boy wrote “my machine gun” which was a bit suspicious, but other than that we were all on the same page.
This of course made me think about what I am thankful for. And being very far from the comforts of home and loved ones, it really makes you realize what is important to you and what you take for granted. So this year I am thankful for…
Toilets. A good, old fashioned, seated toilet. Call me spoiled, but I would like to go on the record saying America has the best toilets in the world. Like the grand daddy of toilets. Here they use squatters, as seen below (I used this one at a bar). This is a poor excuse for a toilet and a great excuse to get in an extra quad workout. They don’t even flush! You have to ladle water into them to make them go. It is the worst. There are western toilets here and there will be at least one in most places, but that is not enough in my opinion. I am thankful for western seat toilets.
Paper products. You guessed it, toilet paper. Also a novelty in this foreign land. There is always a hose apparatus near the squatter or toilet and I don’t know if anyone actually uses it, I am sure people do. I carry little packages of Kleenex with me everywhere. DO NOT leave home without it. Never in my life have I ever thought I would be uttering the words, “Guys, that is one hell of a bathroom. Seat toilet, toilet paper, soap AND paper towels! Definitely check it out.” over dinner.
Traffic Laws. Or stop lights or roundabouts or cross walks or YIELDING. There has to be a casualty an hour in this country. I do not know how I am still alive. The taxis, motorbikes, songtaos, and normal citizen drivers have no regard for your safety or the common pedestrian. It’s like we are invisible. I thought I knew how to cross a street having worked in Manhattan for two years and being a NJ native. WRONG. There is no mercy here. Do not even think about stepping into the street if a car is within eyesight because they will speed up and they try and hit you. And they drive on the other side of the road here. Do you know how hard it is to look both ways, the opposite way, and cross the street and not die?
Wine. This is for my Maloney ladies. Boy, oh boy do I miss good wine. You can get wine here but it is only at big grocery stores and it’s expensive as far as booze goes. The cheapest bottle you can get is $10 and its like drinking grapes I crushed with my feet and left in the sun for a few hours. A large bottle of beer is a little more than $1, so the choice is obvious. Tonight we will be trying to whip together a smorgasbord of American foods for our own personal Thanksgiving and I would kill for a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc to wash it down. Instead I will probably go with Thai whiskey (super cheap) and apple juice.
Health. On a more serious note, I am thankful my stomach is holding up okay. I always thought traveling here could have the potential for disaster due to my stomach issues and the first two things I mentioned I am thankful for, but so far I have been okay. Thank you to my doctors who put me on all sorts of new medicine and have somehow healed me. I drink Thai coffee, try and eat slightly spicy food (which is equivalent to me eating straight up chilies) and have diary. Voila, all fixed!
Friends, family and the interwebs. I am so thankful for the Internet and the amazing ways I can communicate with my loved ones at home. I am able to talk to my boyfriend literally everyday, morning and night, whether he likes it or not. My dad hasn’t called me ONCE since I have been here since he can read this blog, can ask my mom what she talked to me about via email or gchat and because he now has Facebook (everyone run for the hills). I still have trouble getting a hold of my little brother because although a millennial, he would prefer we lived in simpler times with carrier pigeons. Whatever. My friends and I can message and text, I can post photos and my whereabouts all over Facebook so people get annoyed, and I even have a Thai cellphone in case of emergencies. It’s a beautiful, tech savvy life.
I hope everyone at home is having an amazing Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and the things I mentioned above. Days like today make me realize just how far I am from home (mostly because I was forced to work, which is inhumane) but also how lucky I am to be here and have such an amazing support system on the other side. I am so thankful for my mom, dad, brother, boyfriend, family, friends (new and old) and all the people who actually read this blog! I miss and love everyone very much! Feel free to send wine.