Thailand–I’ve Arrived!

Note: I’ll be spending the first half of my summer in Thailand on behalf of Pomona’s Pacific Basin Institute.  If you’d like to read a little more about my project and PBI’s documentary grants, see my previous post about it here!

Dear summer readers,

Hello!  I’m writing from a place farther from home than I’ve ever been before: Bangkok!  I am surviving my second layover and perhaps my 30th hour of travel, and I am bouncing off the glass walls of this terminal with excitement (and slight craze) because only an hour and a half separates me from the great outdoors—the Krabi Province—and my first Thai destination.

I was able to briefly leave the airport, and my first impression is that humidity is a real, real thing.  Living in temperate Seattle and the dry Claremont, I’m inexperienced with notion of the temperature being 85 degrees at 6AM and “feeling like” 90!  My best friend warned me about this, and I swallowed her advice without fully chewing it over—and I certainly felt it (in a very distinct wave) the moment I met the Bangkok air.  That said, I otherwise haven’t had much of a chance to form any meaningful impression other than appreciation of the beautiful gardens and narrow streets I can see from the windows.  Even in the early morning, the streets were bustling with bicyclists and street vendors and people starting their day.

Like I said, the anticipation is killing me, because so much time has been poured into this trip sewing the intricate details together.  Attempting to create contacts to interview for the documentary, finding places to stay, memorizing a (dubious) list of social dos and don’ts, taking vaccines at specific times, collecting visas and passport stamps, and a healthy dose of photographs (perhaps a less necessary step than the others, but the most enticing one.)

I can already sense this will be very different than studying abroad in Scotland in the fall.  Pre-Scotland, I was in a frenzy of excitement for months on end, and spare my current fervor, I’ve approached Thailand with much more of a level head, and I’m unsure why.  I realized yesterday in my hours and hours (and hours) of free time that from June 2012-July 2013, I’ve spent about half of my year outside the country—perhaps I’m more acclimated to traveling than before.  But when I remember Edinburgh, I remember Medieval brick-patterned buildings and blustery winds and warmly-lit pubs filled with people who wouldn’t give me a second glance and probably wouldn’t speak to me unless I reached out to do so.  However, Thailand (so far) has an entirely different vibe with its rustling palm trees and heat.  I stand out in the crowd in a way I never have before and communication seems to be a dance between two parties just trying to meet in the middle and make it work.

Everything will become clearer with time.  However, as I sat down for breakfast this morning with a flat, soft mango, I got the sense that I will like it here a lot.