The following essay was initially completed for a College Writing Composition and Theory essay assignment at Bangkok University International College:
Amazing Thailand, the Land of Smiles—such is the tone of promotional brands for the place I have called home for some seven years. Long before I ever stepped foot in Southeast Asia–for as long as I can remember–Thailand has carried appeal and charm abreast my youthful psyche. In the days as a young and curious boy growing up in/ around Denver, Colorado, I would indulge in Southeast Asia picture and geography books for hours at a time, day dreaming about a distant yet ever so familiar paradise out yonder the great Ocean; A dream land that would eventually become reality.
Entering adult-hood physically and legally in my long-anticipated dream land, the motherland of many of my ancestors, present reality concurs with fruitful visions of days past: Thailand truly is an amazing country that regularly brings a smile to my face. Depending on one’s mindset, it can be the absolute worst and best place to be living, but for the most part, it falls somewhere in between. Thus, it is a complicated task in defining the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ aspects of living in Thailand—at least to be universal for everyone, for my experiences and impressions may not be in sync with others. Nevertheless, a reckonable attempt to do so is as follows.
Personally, my favorite, yet at the same time, least favorite aspect of living in Thailand is the fact that I’m always immersed in a rich-yet-poor, cognitive-yet-idiotic, detailed-yet-broad, lax-yet-strict, hot-yet-wet, logical-yet-illogical and predictable-yet-surprising culture and society that one can never seem to get two full grasps of understanding on.
As mesmerized foreigners, we yearn for another piece of the sweet pie, for it’s so easy to fall in love in Thailand—whether being with people, sounds, attitudes, food, fashion, language, art, or whatever else it is that draws us to this enchanted place, there is an abundance of love and life to be embraced, if only one maintains an open mind and heart.
Yet as soon as we think we have had our filling, the whole world comes crumbling down–hungry eyes staring down on an empty plate; Just when you think you know what Thailand’s all about, reality finds a way to knock you upside the head and convey that you actually know nothing at all. While such phenomenon reassures one that he or she truly is an alive and evolving human being, it can also be a de-heartening reality to cope with at certain times, particularly when the cloud of homesickness engulfs in the initial years of Thailand assimilation.
With persistence and perserverence, eventually, the sky clears, and ‘home’ becomes a blurred reality in the waves of sub-consciousness: Time marches on. Some move on, others continue to stay. Those who have stayed have accepted that they can only ascend baby steps at a time, yet must be prepared for the major falls that are most guaranteed.
For tripping and falling are eminent catalysts for ultimately striving to summit the seemingly unconquerable mountain of Thailand. Anyone who spends a considerable amount of time in the country is shocked when LOS takes on a new meaning: The Land Of Surprises. While tourists and guidebooks charm curious minds about simplicity and happiness every where one turns, an accustomed and convicted eye eventually begins to scope out the intricate layers beyond the smile, and suddenly, reality makes a quantum jump; What one once believed to be beautiful, becomes ugly, and visa versa—what once was knowledge becomes confusion, what once drained, energizes, and so on.
Being a proud Thai American who strives to harness minimal complaint about my motherland, my position and filter for Thailand is clearly biased. However, there is some universal wisdom to be found in what is attempted to being conveyed in this short essay. Our reality is what we make of it. What may be wonderful for some turns out to be horrible for others. In Thailand, this fact is no exception.