Quite a few Thais who’ve asked me why I came to Thailand haven’t really understood my answer. They find it hard to believe that I had a good job in the US and then quit that job to come here. It’s not that I don’t like life in the US—the US is freedom, convenience, ease, variety, choice, home. I just knew that I wanted to—that I had to—go.
I’ve lived in Bangkok for six years now. I didn’t think I would be here this long—when I came, I imagined staying for three years before going somewhere else, maybe somewhere in South America. But Thailand unexpectedly got its claws into me and I find myself, now married, still here, though for how long, I’m we’re not sure.
I’ve been thinking lately about what a different life I live here than the life I lived in the US. It seems like everything is different, but is that even possible?
My mom first saw my dad – “a little skinny blonde kid with a crew cut” – in 1966 when they were both nine years old. My dad had accompanied my grandfather to the kids’ crusade he was conducting at Livingston Assembly of God, the church my mom’s family attended. My parents met three years later, when they were 12, when my mom’s family started going to Bethel Temple, the church my dad had attended since he was born.
Initially, my dad thought my mom had lots of boyfriends because quite a few boys liked her and she thought he was a snob, so while they were in the same Sunday school class and saw each other often, they didn’t have much to do with each other until a Sunday morning at church when they were 16.
Since Susan and I got married last April (2016), every morning when we leave for work, my wife hugs me and kisses me and reminds me that she loves me; she does this again when we get home. In contrast, when I was growing up, my parents would say goodbye to me by saying, “Ok, Chihan, go fast and come back soon.” I didn’t think much about this until my mom kissed me on the cheek for the first time on my wedding day in front of several hundred people.
That was the first time I remember my mom kissing me on the cheek. It was uncomfortable for both of us because it’s something we’ve never practiced in my family and in our culture. My mom must have kissed my six siblings and me thousands of times when we were babies but I don’t remember her doing this at all as we grew older. I find myself wondering why it took so long.
Why I read this: For most of my life, my dad served as a specially licensed minister and church business administrator. During the summer after my eighth grade year, when my dad was working at a large church in California, my family went to Fiji for two weeks as guests of a large church who asked that my parents—my mom is also a money management extraordinaire—put its finances in order; shortly after we returned home, my parents told my brother and me that we were going to be moving to Fiji to be missionaries. My parents had felt, months earlier, that it was time to leave Sacramento, where I grew up, but it wasn’t until our trip to Fiji that they realized where we were supposed to go. Ten months after our two-week trip, we were again on our way to Fiji, where we lived for three years.
I don’t remember reading any books to prepare for going overseas as missionaries, though I do remember reading Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home by Peter Jordan of YWAM when we returned to the US. I think my interest in books about missions comes from a desire to better understand our experiences as missionaries.
I read about the literary history assignment somewhere (Nancie Atwell, maybe, or Cris Tovani?) and assigned it to my middle school students a couple of years ago, but not before I wrote my own. I think it’s a great introductory assignment for a reading classroom.
I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my parents built up a collection of Little Golden Books and the Bernstein Bears, books they must have read over and over again to my brother and me, books that they have saved to give to our children.
When my brother and I were a bit older, my mom took us to the library every week or two, and we got to check out as many books as we were old, so when I was 8, I could check out 8 books. I remember reading Nancy Drew and The Baby-Sitters Club (I always identified with Kristy, the founder of the club, though I wished I was more like Dawn) and Sweet Valley Twins. (When the Sweet Valley Twins became Sweet Valley High, I remember feeling a great sense of sorrow.) I read every moment I could when I was a kid, including while I dried my hair in the morning before school when I was in middle school.
The longer I live in Thailand, the more I realize how easy it is to live here. Not as easy as do-everything-online-America, but safe, organized and in many ways, pretty convenient. I’ve now lived in Thailand for almost 6 years so I’ve figured out what I like the most about living here.
1 Took Lae Dee
I told a friend Took Lae Dee is my favorite restaurant because it’s good and cheap, and she told me that that’s what the name means: took = cheap, lae = and, dee = good. Took Lae Dee is inside Foodland, which is a grocery store that sells a lot of imported food. The menu includes Asian food and Western food and often features new items, like quesadillas! Service is very fast, free water is provided (this is the only restaurant I’ve been to in Thailand that gives free water), the servers are attentive, the prices are very reasonable and it’s open 24 hours, a feature we don’t take advantage of, but it’s nice to know it’s always an option.
Several months ago, Worchihan started talking about our need to begin preparing financially for our future, specifically for children and a house we want to build. We have been saving money every month since we got married a little more than a year ago, but he feels that we need to do more, so he came up with a couple of good ideas that we talked about but decided are not the best ideas for right now.
When Worchihan told me about another idea he had, I wasn’t so sure about it, because I’ve never owned a water buffalo before.