What Price, Thailand? ...

There was unleashed in the mid-afternoon a cleansing torrent from the heavens that passed as abruptly as it arrived.  Added to the fields was a bit more standing water, there were by now only a few remaining puddles on the drive, and everything green seemed that much greener.  There we were the usual suspects, gathered in the usual place, at the usual time searching for those thoughts we had left unfinished just the other day.

Looking north today presented me with a different sensation.  A cool moist breeze kissed my cheeks as it seemed to draw in moister from the mountains to the east.  Stationary, seemingly locked to the topography, was an impenetrable wall of grey.  We were just far enough away from the mountains to remain dry but you could smell it and feel it in the air.

Though not colorful, the western sky was bright by contrast and accented by those dramatic fingers of light that on special occasions reach out from behind the clouds at sunset.  As my eyes followed those rays of light, my thoughts were drawn to the mark that Thailand tends to leave on all of us who venture here.  While some escape her seductive embrace, returning to what many call the real world, others are marked forever and pay a price be it large or small.

Like many men, I suppose I was touched by the women when I first stumbled upon Thailand in my early twenties.  The resulting rush of hormones, no doubt colored everything else about the place with brighter more vibrant hues.  I went through all the typical phases that one does.  Much of the time, that meant I felt very uncomfortable back in my country of birth.  That which others took for granted and saw as inevitable, I no longer considered even an option.  Career, marriage, children, debt, divorce, redundancy and depression were not in the cards for me.

I remember my mother coming to visit once.  We were in a small office purchasing tickets to Chiang Mai, so she could ride an elephant up there.  Everyone in the office was interacting with me.  Even then my Thai was good enough to get everyone involved and I was a bit of a novelty back in those days.  Upon leaving the office my mother remarked that she got it, why I liked it here.  You would need to be a celebrity back home to get that kind of attention while going about mundane errands she remarked.

Though some of the lessons I learned here were painful at the time, in balance Thailand has been kind to me.  I am a different person for having matured in this foreign land far from the path I had been expected to follow.  Whether through luck or resilience I have run the gauntlet and come out the other end undiminished and content with my lot in life.  I have even found things to embrace about where I came from, though I would not wish to live there again. 

There is a fluidity to life here that I have come to embrace.  One never knows for certain what tomorrow will bring.  Life’s ebb and flow brings forth new and unexpected encounters.  As one scene passes from view another unfolds before us with something new to see, feel or learn.  I know Thailand has left a mark on you, so how would you answer the question?  What price, Thailand?