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Joe Paul

Still Sweating (Just Not the Little Things)

by Joe Paul Monday, November 27, 2017

Hello everyone!

Thankfully, rainy season in Thailand is coming to a close which means much more comfortable weather. Adjusting to the climate here has been quite the journey! I swear I’ve forgotten what the sensation “cold” even means at this point! Now that I’ve gotten used to the heat, everyday tasks seem much easier than when I began my journey 3 months ago. Actually, here are a few things that might have gotten to me back in Madison, but have been pretty easy to deal with after living in Asia!

For one thing, Thailand is a present-oriented society. As such, no one is ever in a rush. This was a stark contrast coming from the U.S. where it always seems like there is never enough time. Therefore, as a side effect from living in Bangkok for three months, I walk much more slowly. Whether it be to class, through the malls, or just along the street, I no longer look like an Olympic speed walker as I do back home. It’s a simple change in habit, but I actually consider it a milestone in my journey to adapting to local culture.

Even haircuts are less of an event for me. Back home I’d contemplate for a week asking friends how I should cut my hair (even though I’d get it the same way every time). In Thailand, it’s a whole other ball game. For the most part, I just gesture to my head and point to certain areas and make different sized gaps between my thumb and forefinger to show what length I want. All fruitless of course, and the hairdresser just cuts. For my first time, they cut it far too short for my liking, and I considered being mopey for the whole day. But, in the end, I was a lot less warm in the daytime heat because of it, and ultimately, hair grows back!

Here’s another funny example: Grab, a popular app similar to Uber, let’s me call motorbikes to school for about $1 every day. Just last week, however, instead of getting onto the bike that I had ordered, I didn’t check the license plate of a motorbike I had mistakenly hailed from the side of the road. I climbed on the backseat of what turned out to be a random motorist, and once I realized this, my blood ran cold! Back home, over-the-top thoughts of serial killers and abduction would have raced through my head in a similar situation. But after a couple of deep breaths, I was able to direct the driver in Thai, all the way through Bangkok side streets to get in class on time! It was simultaneously terrifying and affirming. I really do live in this city, and am familiar enough with its streets and neighborhoods to always find my way.

While these are just a few examples, I really do consider Bangkok my current home. Things have stopped feeling like a vacation, and I’m thankful for it! In the beginning, I was always in a rush to do the next thing. Looking back, seeing the sights and traveling around the region almost appears as a chore. As of late however, I’ve only been traveling when I want to rather than trying to match everyone else’s pace, and it has yielded some of my most memorable moments!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!