Seven years ago this month Danielle and I rode quietly in a taxi for the hour or so ride from Pattaya to Bangkok. We were on our way to the airport for our return flight to the U.S. If we had not purchased round trip tickets, I am not sure we would have returned. At least not then.
We each looked out our own side window lost in our own thoughts trying to hold our emotions in. I find it hard to believe that it has been seven years since that day.
We spent our last two days in Pattaya saying good-bye to people who in just a few months had become life-long friends. I can still feel the strong sense of loss I felt deep within me.
We only lived in Thailand for six months. We both have been back at least once, but there are a few things that we still miss.
- Authentic Thai food. I liked most things I tried. But something about fish head soup was kind of weird. Especially when our Thai friend asked if anyone wanted the eyeball. Umm…no, you can have it!
My that’s different. Speaking of eating fish eyeballs, we learned to say, “my that’s different” when we encountered something, well, different. One of our favorite things to do was to find the strangest things carried on a motorbike—TVs, ladders, 5-6 people.
Diverse culture. We met and made friends from all over the world. England, Netherlands, Australia, China, India, and America. Danielle and I enjoy meeting people from different cultures. Even though Austin is becoming more multi-cultural, it’s not even close.
Passionate worship. It wasn’t just doing life together though that caused the depth of friendship. It was doing life together in the context of passionately worshiping our God. In a city of about 200,000 maybe 1-2,000 were Christian.
Purpose. I wrote a blog about why it was easier to follow Christ when I lived in Thailand. Part of the reason is I had a clear purpose for why I lived there. It takes intentionality to live life with a purpose within your own culture otherwise we easily become distracted and apathetic.
Yes, there are things that I don’t miss, such as, crazy traffic, loud grocery stores, no comprehension of what waiting in line means…
It took me a couple of months to learn that I couldn’t leave even the smallest of space between me and the person in front of me when I was in a line. Once I was waiting to order at a KFC. Yes they have KFC in Thailand! I am pressed right up against the counter waiting on the worker to take my order. A Thai woman comes up and stands right next to me. She tries to get the workers attention. Then she leans against me and over the counter. I turn and look with amazement at Danielle. The only way she could get in front of me would have been to jump up on the counter.
I don’t know how many times things like that happened to me! But even these things I kind of miss now.
We still keep the door open to go back for a while even now with a young son. Only God knows what the future holds for us. For now, we fondly remember our time in Thailand and the friendships we maintain.