Thursday, May 23, 2013

Letting Go

I write this entry from the cozy top bunk of my curtained sleeper train car on the way from Bangkok to Chumphon (all to get us to the paradise of Koh Tao or "turtle island").  On the other side of my curtained cubicle is a bunch of loud, drunk Dutch men who just won't shut up and let me sleep. And I am learning to let go. 

I haven't yet decided if this is like trying to sleep in an urban hospital emergency room, or if it's more like sleeping on the couch of a fraternity common room on a Saturday night (sorry, Max!). Maybe a little bit of both. And that's what this trip is about for me. It's about seeing the world - the temples, vistas, heritage sites. But it's more about seeing myself. And one month in, I'm seeing a WASPy, stressed-out person who's pretty set in her ways.

Oh my god, they're in a chorus of "one night in bangkok". Goody!!

Our train car :)
So far, the people of the world have driven me crazy. In Hong Kong, the mainland Chinese would rather shove me to the ground (and tried desperately) in order to be the first one on the tram (on which all of us in line will easily fit). And the Hong Kongers meander slowly down the center of the sidewalk, reading their cell phones, swinging their umbrellas right at my eyeballs. And the noise! Whether its whistling on the metro to one's own music, yelling into the phone for an entire bus journey, or singing 80's tunes at the top of one's lungs at 1am on an 8-hour train ride, there is so much noise!!! And my nice WASPy upbringing really doesn't stand for much public noise-making. So I learn (slowly) to adjust.

And what helps me adjust is all the charming ways that people are different than me. The Japanese we met were so embarrassed and apologetic that their english was not better, despite the fact that our Japanese was clearly lacking. When we had Dim Sum in Hong Kong at a remote hole-in-the-wall spot, two locals worked tirelessly with Cory to figure out what we wanted to eat. And the Thai are so charming that they skip over english altogether and just grab your hand to show you that their food is hot (or cold), that you should go here or there, and to help you, without any verbal language at all. 

But charming as it can be, sometimes it's too much! I've finally asked our musical friends to quiet down (nicely, I promise) and it's finally time for some z's. I'll get back to my journey of personal growth tomorrow, when I'm sitting on the beach, cocktail in hand.

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