Imagine a five-hour, countryside bus, full of drunk Chinese people and their screaming children, and that’s what my flight from Beijing to Phuket was like. I don’t recommend Hainan Airlines for that route, but I also took them from Seattle to Beijing and that flight was pleasant enough. Needless to say, arriving at my quiet guesthouse, Green House Phuket, around 11pm, was just the rescue I needed. My head hit the pillow and I knew that no nightmare could compare with the real life I had just gone through.
Moving to a new country is nothing like a vacation. I woke up and felt as though I should be off exploring temples and the beaches, but I’ll have many months to do that. More pressing was buying a phone and figuring out where the hell I was. Ming, the receptionist, was extremely helpful and showed me a map on her phone of where the Tesco Lotus was located. She said a taxi would be around 300 baht/10 dollars one way.
“Is there a local bus?” I asked, as I did want to pay for a taxi.
“This is not like Bangkok, with buses every minute. There is one, but it takes a long time. No air conditioning and open,” she warned me.
Ming took me on her motorbike through the daily market and down to the Heroines Monument. I made her take a picture of me because I thought my American flag helmet was hilarious, but you can’t even see it in the picture.
She then gave me some advice as we waited to cross the street.
“Make sure you ask how much the ride is before you get in. Some people here are nice, and some people not nice.”
Ming grabbed my hand.
“Here, people do not stop for you. You must walk in front of them.”
In a sweet act of helpfulness, she walked me across the lane and then handed me off to some random Thai dude and told him in Thai, what I think meant, please help her get across this next lane now.
“Sah wat dee kaaah!,” she cried and then disappeared.
I waited at a stop for one of the blue, open trucks and it took maybe fifteen minutes to show up. A taxi would obviously be more convenient, but the “bus” is so much more exciting. I jumped on, as it was pulling away (thank you driver) and sat with all the women whose shoppings bags were pilled high on their laps. The men stood, hanging off the back ladder rungs. I found it somewhat gentlemanly that it was situated this way. A large portrait of the king hung by the window and a girl next to me wore a shirt proclaiming “We love the King!” One man’s bag of chicken feet was close to touching my own feet and I had to put it out of my mind so I wouldn’t get squeamish. I was certainly in Thailand now.
The bus only cost 20 baht/50 cents one way. Bargain. Tesco Lotus has groceries, clothes, an office supplies store, and KOREAN FOOD. I can’t wait to try this place out.
I bought a burner phone for 700 baht/19 dollars and topped it up, then feeling fairly successful, decided to treat myself to some Thai Basil stir-fried chicken from the food court. It was only 55 baht/1.50 dollars and was so spicy that I dreamed of a glass of milk, but instead ate pieces of cucumber to try and smother the fire. I treated myself to a iced cappuccino at Blue Canyon Cofeee afterwards, which cost double my meal, but was completely worth it.
The area in which I’m staying, and ultimately living, is called Thalang and so far, it’s fairly local and I’ve only seen a couple foreigners wandering around the Tesco. A coworker of mine told me it was “rural”, yet I find that laughable, coming from the woods of California, and having lived on farm land in Korea. It’s more accurately a suburb set in the jungle. I can walk to a 7/11, pharmacy, and food vendors from my guesthouse, but there are no fancy restaurants, bars, or shops to be seen. I love it. I’m well aware that once I venture out of this area, it will be tourist/foreigner central, and ultimately, more expensive. I’ve always enjoyed living close to the action, but not in it. Right now, I’m deciding if I will rent an apartment on this road, a 5 minute walk from my school, or get a condo that is a 10 minute drive from my school, but in a more modern area, closer to the coast. I’ll get to see both places by the end of Monday.
Riding back on the bus, the rain poured down, and I felt overwhelmingly content. I am giddy to be here and I’m so happy that I literally felt as though I could cry. I love walking in the drizzle along the road, smelling spices being cooked in oil, and looking at billboards that show a festival where men have metal swords poking through their face. My soul loves an adventure. I just started reading Tales of a Female Nomad and it has been resonating with me very deeply. This quote sums up why, yet again, I’ve decided to move abroad and teach, despite it being “time” for me to start a career and settle down.
“I’m not running away. I’m running toward…toward adventure, toward discovery, toward diversity….Once I leave the U.S., I am not bound by the rules of my culture. And when I am a foreigner in another country, I am exempt for the local rules. This extraordinary situation means that there are no rules in my life. I am free to live by the standards and ideals and rules I create for myself.”
That’s just it. I feel free. No matter what tribulations I face with acclimating to this new life, that won’t change. I can’t wait to create this new life for myself and I’m ready for what may come.
Can’t wait for you all to visit! 😉