Written on December 3rd, 2016.
I am going home.
For the first time in 10 years, I’m going back to Thailand. I’m nervous and excited all at once. It’s been a long time and it is the first time that I feel ready to go back to the country that stole my heart more than 20 years ago – even before I visited it for the first time in 1997. I had already fallen in love with it’s food and customs thanks to my Thai family in Sweden, so when I crossed the border that first time – on a coach from Singapore through Malaysia – I felt like I was coming home.
I spent a lot of time in Thailand, for work as well as for pleasure, and visited many times and many different places over the years. From 1997/98, when I studied in Singapore, through 2006 I visited at least once a year but often more than once. I spent several Christmas holidays traveling or working there for a month. I lived there for a year, from early 2004, and I did come back for Christmas the two following years but then for some reason I couldn’t seem to do it anymore….
It was partially the exploitation of my village (Khao Lak) but probably more than anything the trauma that I didn’t realise, or at least never acknowledged, that I (must have) suffered from.
I thought about going back two years ago, around Christmas time, for the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Tsunami but knowing the media circus that Swedish television alone put on, I just couldn’t. It felt wrong. It felt disrespectful to the thousands and thousands of Thai people who lost their lives, loved ones or livelihoods. I couldn’t be there and see all this attention to the Swedish people that were lost, or lost someone, when so many others lost so much more. I’m not saying anyone’s life matter more than someone else’s, or that suffering is comparable but it was the scale of the whole thing that put me off. The perspective felt off.
Maybe I shouldn’t have judged but gone there to see for myself but I wasn’t ready. And now I am. Or at least I think I am…
In the last couple of months, I’ve also reconnected with the local Thai community, through the Atammayatarama Buddhist Monastery here. And that’s helped me regain my confidence to go back for sure. Because seeing the warm smiles and being welcomed straight into the Thai community, without knowing anyone – no questions asked, brought back all the reasons why I love that country, the people and the culture so much! Being immediately mothered by a whole bunch of Thai women (Yes! They make me eat a lot! *lol*) was one very simple yet clear reminder of how amazing people, culture, nature and food is in Thailand. And how deeply I love it. And it made me see how dumb it is to deprive myself of that love, and all that happiness, over something that happened 12 years ago. Something that I cannot change anyway.
Why be a prisoner of the past? No matter how horrible that past was, it is time now to let it go. I’m on my way, home to Thailand – and I am really looking forward to it!