“My senses are filled with sights, sounds, and smells.Things I hear are karaoke in the distance, monks chanting, frogs, dogs barking, motorbikes, tuk tuks, tokay gecko chirps. Now I don’t even react to the loud gunshot type sound I hear, and figuring it’s just another firecracker, even if it’s in the middle of the day.”
- Elizabeth, Land of Infinite Possibilities
Living in a foreign country, or even spending a prolonged time away from your own, you certainly begin to take note of those things that are different from wherever you may be most familiar with. After a while though, you begin to loose the immediate wonder that these odd sights initially sparked. Daily routine and a more general shifting of norms settle in as you become more comfortable in the foreign environment.
Of course you could also always just as easily overlay your own culture on top of the foreign one to make yourself more comfortable. This becomes particularly easy to do in a city like Bangkok. In theory, I could live just like I would back in the U.S. Maybe even better. I could stay in my upper-scale apartment. I could go around the corner to McDonalds or Pizza Hut and have numerous western and ethnic foods delivered from restaurants on Sukhumvit.
But what would be the point of that?
To stay the same in a new place, you might as well have never left where you come from. One of the most basic ideas of seeing new places, whether it’s only a couple day vacation to a prolonged sojourn to long-term residency, is to learn and hopefully understand something about that place.
There is a converse point to that as well. Many of us come from countries that are inherently multicultural. In a country as unilaterally nationalist as Thailand, or many other SE Asian countries, the monotony sometimes needs to be broken up. And thankfully Bangkok has a constant revolving door of travelers from over the world that can and do provide a break from the homogeneity.
Still, looking back at these things and thinking about what made them so fascinating in the first place can bring back that same sense of wonder. This week’s Weekly Reblog post did that for me. In this long series of completely arbitrary sights common throughout Thailand and some of its neighbors, Elizabeth of Land of Infinite Possibilities has reawakened a small sense of nostalgia and curiosity of seeing these things for the first time.