I remember the first time I used chopsticks. We were at Aiea Chop Suey (HA!); it was my mom, my younger brother, and me. We were not given any silverware, just those horrible off-white plastic set of sticks.
My friend, who is somewhat newly moved to Thailand, was reflecting on what it’s like to be an expat: the culture shock, and then the struggle of not wanting to complain and feel culture shocked. As I walked to work, I thought about how much I had changed since living abroad.
I’m binge watching Season 24 of America’s Next Top Model (don’t laugh). In fact, I’ve watched every season (not every episode though) because I’m a wannabe model. Funnily, I take really bad photos, but counteract this by making goofy faces, and accepting the fact that I’m not photogenic.
But what has struck me, as I watched the girls in the house interact with one another, is how many of them carry pain inside them. At first, I thought it was ironic as heck that some of these stunning young women grew up being told they were ugly or funny-looking (this is a repeat theme throughout the seasons), but there’s more to this than just this.
It’s weird, you know, being back in Thailand. There are enough White men with Asian women around for you to you raise your chopsticks and your eyebrows. Sometimes it’s the age difference that’s startling. Sometimes though you can’t really tell, as some men look older than their age, and the women look (and dress) younger than they really are. Often foreigners are trying to guess if the woman is a ‘lady of the night’ or a proper girlfriend.
First of all, let me congratulate you on making a good choice. Going to Vientiane Laos for your Thai visa run is like competing in the Hunger Games. By contrast, heading to Kuala Lumpur is like taking your dog on a walk through the park, sometimes there are unsure moments, but overall, it’s a breeze.
What has haunted me since we’ve left Cambodia is all the stuff I gave away, all the stuff I left behind. My mind tosses and turns like a salad, over and over again, remembering this particular thing or that object that I miss. Because when we left, we left thinking we were going to the United States. We left believing we were never returning or not returning anytime soon.