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Comings and goings....

One thing I both love and hate about living in Bangkok is the fact that its so transient. People come and go all the time.

I love the fact that its easy to go somewhere like Khao San, sit in a coffee bar for a bit, and meet people who are travelling around. I like to hear their stories, where they've been, what they've done and where they plan to go next. Its nice to hear accents from home too.

But, one thing about living somewhere where people are always on the move, is that its hard to settle down and make 'real' friends. Even the ones you do manage to make never seem to stick around here for that long.

My friend B goes home today - only for a couple of days, to take his stuff home and say goodbye to his family, but, in 2 weeks time he's off to study in the US. By the time he gets back here - who knows when, maybe in 6 months, maybe in 3 years - I'll probably be long gone. I doubt we'll see each other again.

He probably speaks the best English of any of the Thai people where I live. He's the guy I play scrabble with, the guy I meet at Major when I'm in the mood to see a cheesy american blockbuster, the guy I winge to when I have a bad day at school and the guy that winges to me when he's fell out with his family or wants to complain about his students or life at uni. I'm really gonna miss him.

His mum and a driver friend arrived here late last night, and this morning the 4 of us had breakfast together. She asked me why I wasn't going back to Nan with them. When B first suggested that I go with them, 2 weeks ago, it sounded like a great idea. I would have had a free ride there, 2 days to wander around and relax and could easily take an overnight bus back to BKK, in time for school on Tuesday morning.

Naan is a great place to chill out. Its small, quiet, easy to walk (or bike) around, has some beautiful temples and is close to some stunning mountain scenery. B's family are great too. I really like his mum. She's kind, friendly and easy to talk to. She teaches English to Prathom students at a small school outside the town, but, like most Thai English teachers who work at poor, underfunded, rural schools isn't that fluent at speaking it.

Last time I went there, I stayed at her house. She showed me the stains, left on the wall after last years flash floods. Her house isn't that near the river, but its on low lying ground. For 2 or 3 days the water was almost 4 foot high. The floods wrecked her garden and her front room was ruined. Fixtures, furniture and family photos were all destroyed. The force of the water even pushed some of the bricks out of place.

I went to her school to say hi to the kids that she teaches and watched in amusement as some of the younger ones giggled hysterically when she told them to say hello to a 'real' farang. I helped her with her English and she helped me with my Thai. B's gran is great too. Smart, funny and, even better, a great cook. It would have been a brilliant trip. I would have been well looked after. I feel a bit jaded by being in Bangkok and could do with a trip upcountry. I had no other plans to travel or go anywhere this weekend. So, why did I say no ?

The only reason I could think of is that I'm not that good at saying goodbyes. It would have been odd going there, seeing my friends family, staying with them, eating their food, enjoying their company and knowing that I'm probably not going to see any of them ever again. I reckon I would have felt a bit uncomfortable, and I don't think I would have enjoyed the trip much.

Its funny. People living in places like Bangkok, are always meeting people that they'll only ever see, or hang out with for a few hours. I meet people every other day who I know I'm never going to stay in touch with. Saying good bye to people your hardly know is easy. Saying goodbye to people you've grown to like and care about, is much different.

Thinking back to the other foreigners that I met here when I came to Bangkok almost 3 years ago, there are only 2 that I know of who are still here. Of the 2, one occasionally e-mails to tell me that she's been travelling upcountry, or, more recently, to Australia. The other is a friend of hers. She normally tells me where he's working and what he's been doing. Everyone else has already left.

This is pretty normal. When I first arrived here I'd planned to do a TEFL course. Most of the other people on the course came here solely to study. When it came to finding work, they planned to head off to places like Korea, Taiwan, Japan and China, where the money and working conditions for TEFL teachers are much better than here. Of those that did stick around, only R and L stayed in touch. L because she was a friend of R's.

Whenever I meet people nowadays, I'm friendly and smiley but, at the back of my mind theres always the nagging thought that they aren't going to be around here for very long, especially if they're foreign and female. It makes it hard to get close to them, to confide in them, and to treat them in the same way that I would treat a friend back home.

The one exception to this rule was Bene. She moved into my apartment block in January. In her first few days she helped me gatecrash the 'new foreigners welcoming' party that the owner of the apartment block held. A couple of days later we headed out sightseeing and for food together and quicky became friends. Bene was great. Easy going, funny, independent and very bright. We hungout, went on daytrips, watched movies and got drunk together. 2 months ago, she went home. She was probably my closest friend here in 2 years.

I was dreading the day that she went back home. I'd be on my own again. I know I should be used to it by now. I say goodbye to people all the time here. But doing something a lot, doesn't always make it any easier.

For her last night in BKK we went to a hip-hop club (don't ask me which one - they all seem to be hip hop clubs) on RCA and partied till late. I was supposed to go to the airport with her too. 4am came around and I hid in my room, a little bit drunk, 1/2 asleep and totally dumbstruck as to what to say. I hoped she wouldn't call to ask where I was, as I had no idea how to explain my mood to her. Thankfully she didn't.

I said bye to B and his mum around 8.30 this morning. I'll see him again in a couple of days. He still has a lot of things to organise before his trip, and plans to hang out in BKK until his plane ticket is confirmed. We're supposed to be going to see a movie together on Wednesday, and if he still stays in my apartment block, they'll probably be a few more games of scrabble to be played before the week is out too... But in my head, its like he's gone already.

B wasn't the only one to go today. Carolina, the last of the foreigners also headed home. I hardly knew her but she was always smiley, friendly and eager to talk about her travels. That's 2 less people to talk to and say hi to in the lobby in the evenings.

It feels like everyone I know and get close to here leaves. I'm always really pleased for them when they go, as most of them are moving on to better things (B to America, Bene to Austria or wherever she decides to go to teach French.) But, it gets pretty depressing after a while, seeing friend after friend after friend disappear. You start to wonder who'll be next. Maybe it should be me ?


Create Date : 12 สิงหาคม 2550
Last Update : 13 สิงหาคม 2550 9:27:06 น. 0 comments
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kerrie
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