Free At Heart

Well, looks like I have bullshit all wifi, so god knows when THIS will be up. That majorly fucks up my posting order, and the way I wanted this to be presented, but EHH well. (I’m writing this on the afternoon of the 12th, inside and in front of a fan, which is lovely).

Last time I came to Thailand, I was 11, meaning that 5 years have passed since I’ve been to the village. A lot has changed in 5 years: I’m not the loud girl I once was, I don’t have the same incessant curiosity, but I guess something in me must still be the same. The village itself hasn’t changed much either, save for a few more buildings being added. Of course, the people have got older, which is the thing that’s difficult to adjust to.

You don’t really appreciate what you have until you’re out in a rural place that, you may think, lacks any luxury. However, it’s just different; after two days, I’m slowly getting used to it again.

My stepmother’s mother’s home is very, very different to any other home I’ve been in, in any other country, except for Malaysia where my Popo ′grandmother′ used to live. The downstairs is open: there are no doors, no entryways and no real walls, so that you step onto the tiled surface from the street. Stray cats and even dogs come in: there’s this cat that appears to love our family, and I swear it has flees because I’ve been bitten by something that isn’t a mosquito. The cat is still lovely though, and meows constantly so that I know it’s there.

The kitchen has a stone floor, and the tap water isn’t safe to drink, but I’ve known that since I was 8. My stepmother’s mum’s room is near the kitchen, too, though I’ve never been inside; I don’t speak to her much because of the language barrier, though I have a deep-rooted respect for her. So do the rest of the village, from what I can tell. The stairs that lead up to the rooms where we sleep are steep and wooden, the floor in my temporary room made of boards of wood, with a fan there to offer some relief from the heat.

The main thing I’m struggling a bit with is the sleeping. My bed’s a mattress on the floor: not that I mind; I don’t exactly care where I sleep. A fan is at the end of my bed, but even with it it’s stiflingly hot, but I don’t want to take the blanket off because of insects. Even so, I have about 12 bites on my legs, and they’re either from mosquitos or bedbugs. I’m suspecting the latter, so that’s why I went into my dad and stepmum’s room to try and sleep last night. It worked.

This might sound odd, but the most different thing is the toilet. You could say that it’s outside, because there’s an outdoor space between the main bit of the house and the toilet. The side of it backs out onto an allotment, where there are so many home grown vegetables that my dad gets jealous. The floor in the toilet is always slightly wet, on account of there being no shower cubicle, and the shower – which only started working properly today – is one you’d usually consider “normal” in a typical western home. People often have the assumption that villages in places like Thailand are totally removed from the outside world, but that’s not the case at all; the Temple has wifi, and kids go to school in the surrounding villages and towns. Yesterday, we used a bucket to wash, with cold water, which is something I actually really enjoy. It was, in a way, my childhood – when I went to Malaysia, we always had bucket baths, and when our boiler broke when I was 3, we had the same. Because it’s so hot, having a shower is amazing.

Whenever you’re walking, or sitting inside, you can always hear motorbikes going past. I always jump to the side of the road, paranoid we would get run over, but the feeling of actually going on a motorbike is the best. Saying that, there aren’t really ‘roads’ and that’s what I like: it’s natural, with dirt maths and a few cobbles scattered about, the smell of heat and calls of people as we walk past, intermingled with the chirps of birds.

I’ve made what you could call friends – or at least I do. There are no kids in the village my age, but seeming as I’ve known many of them since I was 8, I’ve seen them grow up as they’ve seen me. Yes, 5 years have passed and so much has changed, but today and the day before, it didn’t feel that way. I’m antisocial as anything, but sometimes I do stop going on my phone to talk to people (shocker, I know).

I played a game, with two of the children: Um and Boat, who are 13 and 11 respectively. I’ve always liked them both, because even though we can’t speak each other’s language ′I can speak more Thai than they can speak English′, we communicate in different ways. Laughter’s a big part of it, because whenever something happens, I know what they feel by their laughter. Trust me, when you find out the name of a fruit you’ve never seen before in Thai, not know it in English, and eat it wrong, you know you’re not doing it right by the laughter. We improvised a game, where they clap, I clap to let them know I heard them, and we throw a ball at each other (or they poke me with a broom to make me laugh). Two claps have become our signal to say, “Let’s do this!” which just shows that you don’t need a language to speak, even if you’re blind like me. They’re good, helping me and letting me smile, because it’s so simple to be with them. There are no hurtful words or anything like that, because they’re people I’ve technically known since I was 8, and so I have a “bond” with them.

(I’m writing this on the 13th now, and have wifi which is great!) Yesterday, we went to the market. Thai markets are amazing, because stalls line the walls and pathways, outside too. You can hear the buzz of chatter, unrecognisable words flowing together, and the smell of food is so glorious that it makes you want to buy everything. I loved walking around the market with my dad, and on the way home, I sat in the back of a pickup truck with Boat and Um (another thing that defined my childhood here). The wind blew my hair around, making my eyes water, but it was beautiful and exhilarating.

I’m not the free spirit I once was, but I still have that side of me left. I love the village, even though I have bites from mosquitos and other insects all over me (some even on my back). Right now, that doesn’t matter. I’m getting horribly stressed over homework, because I’ve done nothing, but I’m just revelling in the simplicity of everything.

Also, in case anyone was worried, the bombs that exploded were on the other side of the country. I’m safe, though I feel terrible for the families suffering at the moment.

From Elm 🙂

32 thoughts on “Free At Heart

  1. I loved reading this post! Your descriptive writing is so engaging I felt like I was there with you! And it seems like such a great and non-touristy experience! I hope you’re having a great time 😀

    • I definitely am! AHHH I’m so happy you liked it; I tried to make it as descriptive as I could. Yeah, I love the non-touristy aspect of it, because I feel like I’m experiencing everything in the most real sense.

  2. DAMN your holiday sounds good! My Thai uncle and his family used to live in a wooden house that doubled as a barn for their livestock, but now they’ve upgraded to a proper concrete building. Have a fab time! x

  3. This sounds amazing. I love how we can all communicate without using words, the game sounds hilarious! I’d be scared of all the motorbikes too:) How much time have you got left in Thailand? x

  4. This sounds so much fun. I would love to go to Thailand and stay in a little village and get to know the culture.
    The part with the toilet made me laugh because I have just been in the UK and the toilets were so different from the toilets in Germany. The same thing when I was in the US. I always miss German toilets when I am abroad for some reason. Maybe I’ll write a post about it.

  5. Thailand sound so amazing. I am so happy you are enjoying yourself!!!!
    I loved hearing about how you communicate with Um and Boat. It is very sweet 🙂

  6. eeeee sounds like so much fun!! Thailand sounds a bit like Taiwan, where my family is from. I definitely relate to the whole mosquitoes and sweltering heat thing- it’s what you get from the Equator. :/ And it’s so cute how you communicate with the kids!! I can understand the language but not speak it, so yeah.

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