You know you’re in Thailand, when every other first name finishes with ‘porn’. When the food is so spicy, you just want to jam your tongue in a pile of snow (and you realize: fuck, there’s no snow!). When you drive on the left side of the road, but overtake left instead of right if you’re on a scooter. Just because. When it’s bring your kids to work day, every day. When you see a beautiful women but you better check for masculine elbows, hands and an adams apple – just to be sure. When a Thai massage is about 10 bucks and comes with complimentory tea, a footbath and a possibly very dodgy and inapropriate ‘up’selling proposal.
Weeks after the emperors death, people are still moaning and/or celebrating his life, being proud to be born in his reign. All over Thailand, a massive awareness campaign has brought to live thousands of black out of home banners, paying tribute and condolences to a great king. For many farein (short for foreigners, a term mostly used for expats living in Thailand), this unfortunate event causes nothing but inconveniance, mostly in regards to administrative challenges (which are tricky enough on their own). Respectfully others comply and patiently wait for their papers to be processed. And patience really is the key here.
If you haven’t learned this virtue in Southeast Asia, you have done something terribly wrong. Time loses its value in a place, where transcendence and spirituality are the main pillars of cultural and religious belief. Being zen about both the things you can’t and can change seems to be the only rational answer, putting people very much at ease as it seems. Why worry or get angry about something you can’t change? Why worry if you can change it? I can still very much relate to this approach, living it every day myself.
Speaking of which: I live here now. You might have assumed it already, since I have been talking about Thailand for the last two minutes. But anyhow, my recreational profession (is this a paradox?) has led me to take on a job for a local dive operator in Khao Lak, roughly an hour north of Phuket. This place is known for being the venue for one of Thailands more devastating Tsunamis, in 2004. The wave caused massive floodings and left countless people homeless. Some of the damages can still be seen today. Ironically, the waves are normally rather small, but there is a bit of surf and surfing is always a nice option. There is a long list of activities to do here, Khao Lak itself being the least attractive of all the alternatives: it’s a very typical Thai town, charactetised by wrapping its shops, hotels and restaurants around mainly one big and and rather busy street. It doesn’t get as touristic as in other places in Thailand though, and if money is not an issue there are even fantastic resorts on the lovely beach. Most people come for the diving here, as the Similan Islands are a short ride on a speedboat away, but I take notice the overall relaxed atmosphere of Khao Lak more and more and it actually grows on me.
Jobwise, I regularly leave on both day- and multiday-trips to the Andaman Sea, popular for the Similan Islands National park (including the nearby Richelieu Rock). I feel like I need a seperate blog just to talk about the scuba diving part of my journey. So I am gonna spare you details for now. It’s great fun though and I am looking forward to spending an awesome time here this season. Also, you’re very much welcome to come here and learn how to dive with me. Some of my friends already chose to do so and performed brilliantly. So proud!