Living in Thailand is not what I expected. I expected it to be easier. I expected to live more comfortably than I do in America because my currency would stretch further. I expected it would be like an extended holiday with the benefits of picking up the language. I know. What was I thinking?

While I do enjoy many comforts, there are things I never imagined or anticipated. I never imagined my view from my second story apartment window would be a large electrical tower, a deep concrete canal filled with murky water and homes made out of corrugated mental sheets, dried leaves, bamboo slats, mats and cinderblocks. Nothing prepared me for the onslaught, assault and ambush of noises: dogs barking by day and howling by night, children crying and yelling in the condo parking lot, and roosters crowing but the ducks don’t quack, they flap, flap, flap.

Television, video, photography all edit what it truly feels like when you are here. Even when I’m sitting on a train riding into Bangkok and I look at the ghetto slums and overflowing trash that litters the weeds, train stations and tracks, I feel removed. I feel safe. I am comfortable in the air conditioned train.

I suppose it is this juxtaposition on a not-a-vacation basis that makes me feel vulnerable. Sometimes my thoughts are at a standstill because I’m not sure what I am suppose to think so I simply absorb the sounds and sights and close my window to the burning smell of garbage and cooking fires. Other times I’ll turn on the A/C so I can’t hear the noise from down below.

Why would I trade my American standard of living for this? I don’t know exactly. I guess I’m still figuring it out. I know I don’t want to be part of the ignorant clan. I want to experience life and an easy life is not always a fulfilling one. I realize I have a choice and in that choice lies freedom. I could never be the kind of bird who is content to fly in its own neighborhood. There are times when I wish I could be. But strangely, as I get up to close my window, this is not one of those times.

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