Bed, Booze and a Summer Breeze
As is so often the way of these things, the end of this adventure seems to have rudely snuck up on me despite the fact it’s been waving from afar for months. Suddenly I find I have only 7 full days left with the children I have seen grow, learn and develop over the last year. Yesterday Rachel, who arrived on the very same day as me and has been with me right the way through, booked her ticket home to the states and every week seems to bring a new last. Yesterday was the last movie night, our Monday night tradition, and every week now will bring more goodbyes as term ends and things rapidly begin to draw to a close; everybody seeing to their own new adventures. My own adventures will see me visiting Burma and different places in Thailand for a while before I set off for home with my friend Adam Shoeneman. Flying seemed too easy though so we decided to get the train; shortly this blog should get decidedly more chaotic as we attempt to make our way through Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Mongolia before hitting Asian Siberia and powering our way through to European Russia. Then it’s on through Eastern Europe and to home.
Ah home. To more-or-less everyone here it has become like a tribal drumbeat increasing in intensity; ominous to some and longed-for to others. For me, it’s a little mixture of both. I’m so excited in many ways but now that the time comes to begin the (admittedly long) journey home there’s a sadness that creeps in and sets down deep roots. I find the only way to get through all these endings and goodbyes is to think of all the things I’m most looking forwards to about home and there are definitely several. Of course the people most of all, but here is a list of all the little things I have found missed the most over the last year. It’s never the things you think it’s going to be before you go.
- Booze: Ok, I hear you, I’m in Thailand. A 1.5 pint bottle of beer costs about £1.20, a bucket of SangSom rum and Red Bull £2-3, or a full gallon bucket of rum, vodka and gawd knows what else is about £6. That’s some good drinkings by anyone’s standards *hic*. What I miss is just something a bit, well, nicer I guess. What I wouldn’t give for an Aspalls cider or Stowford Press, a glass of decent wine or – heaven of heavens here’s the Brit in me – a tall jug of Pimms in the garden with ice and mint leaves and all that lovely stuff.
- My dog: Oh my lovely doggy! Cutest little fella that ever graced the earth. I’m so scared that he won’t remember me but he’s so fickle he’ll probably charge around and look really excited at a new person anyway. It’ll be nice to pet an animal that doesn’t leave your hand feeling filthy or have several hitch-hikers.
- Food: This one’s a given, there’s nothing in particular I really miss that much, once you know your way around you can get pretty much anything you want in Bangkok but my mum’s macaroni cheese I’m pretty sure is so amazing it could bring about world peace. What will be wonderful however is choice. As a vegetarian in Lop Buri I pretty much get to flit between pad Thai and fried rice. It will be amazing to have a few choices at the end of the day!
- Computer Games: Nerdy I know but there’ve been times I’ve had a real hankering for a bit of Skyrim or Dragonage. I’ll get home and be poor and unemployed so there’ll be plenty of time to scratch that itch!
- Art: Canvases and materials and resources amassed over a lifetime – can’t wait to carry on all my half-finished projects!
- English: I know you’re not really supposed to say this but it’ll be nice to be somewhere English-speaking after so long never really knowing if you’ve fully understood/been understood conversationally.
- The New Forest: Oddly, whenever I think of home in a nostalgic, wistful sort of way (happens to the best of us at times) it’s never actually my home I think of – it’s the New Forest, about 30 miles west of my home. The New Forest is where I spent a childhood playing in rivers and watching wild ponies and has become a sort of Shangri-la in my head whenever Asia’s driving me crazy. I think of how green it is, golden sunlight dappling the forest floor, cream teas, ploughman’s lunches, my family throwing sticks for the dog… when I’ve been homesick I’ve tortured myself with this image more than any other which would have surprised me to know before I left. Probably when I go back next it will be raining and muddy and shatter the image completely!
- Bed: No bamboo slats, no rock hard boards; a real mattress, a crisp, clean, thick duvet. Window open so the room is slightly chill but I’m warm and snug in my cocoon. Wake up in the morning and turn the pillow over to the cool side against my cheek. Heaven.
- Being Clean: No dirty nails, sweaty matted hair, filthy dusty feet, grubby clothes, whites that are never white, clean, clean, clean! Heaven.
- Grooming: Which brings me nicely to my next point – being well-presented! No frizzy hair, sweaty pink face, 9 million mosquito bites, scruffy clothes, shoes falling to pieces, make-up that stays on longer than 5 minutes before getting sweated off. I’m somewhat amazed to look at pictures of myself before I came here, it’s hard to remember a time when I did things as frivolous as wear high-heels and blow-dry my hair.
- Climate: Call me jaded but I’ve come to the conclusion that the south coast of England has the best weather in the world; never too hot, never too cold, it really doesn’t rain as much as people make out down in our corner and when it does its usually a gentle rain – not the stuff that’ll take the plaster off your building that they have here. Oh to wear a hoody and jeans! More than anything its climate that I’m looking forwards to, to walk and not be drenched in sweat, to have a gentle breeze swaying the trees and kissing your shoulders, to have the sun be a kind, benign thing rather than an aggressive dictator. It’s what dreams are made of.
So that’s it, my list; this is what keeps me going when I’m starting to get over-whelmed with sadness at the end of things – all that fabulous stuff to look forwards to plus the best friends and family a person could have.