I'm moving to Thailand! Again. My husband Phillip and I lived there 2008-2010. People ask me why we're going back, and I don't really have a single answer. People ask me what I'll be doing and I ramble even more unintelligibly. Basically, I want to and I'll be working there.
Why: because it's awesome, we can save money on cost of living, we can get $5 massages, we have friends there, we are pretending it's not 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity year round, we can travel Asia cheaply, we have the support of family and friends that means the world, we can eat krapow every night for $2, we can study languages, we can meet people from all over and host friends and family from back home, we can make fools of ourself karaoke-ing, we can go to beaches on weekends, we think Loy Krathong is the best holiday, we can be useful, we can be uncomfortable, we can have sobbing breakdowns while re-washing laundry for the third day in a row during rainy season. Not that that last one ever happened to me. Performing even basic tasks has the ability to exhilarate or destroy you when you're navigating an unfamiliar environment. It's what I love about traveling -- every day could be the best, or the worst, of your life.
What I will be doing: I am capitalizing on the generosity of my employer and the Internet economy to work remotely for JP's Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation. In addition, I will be consulting with Raven + Lily and visiting their Asia artisan groups for them as needed. These paying jobs will allow me to live with and volunteer for my friends who started the Creative Life Foundation (CLF) in Bangkok. Unconventional, sure, but possible. I have loved being a small part of the refugee community in Austin these last five years, and I am hoping to learn even more about migrants and refugees while being a part of the CLF community. CLF runs a small school for kids who were previously working all night long to earn money for their families. They help a small-batch food business sell goods at farmers' markets around town, which has helped an entire family support itself. They provide counseling and support services for women, they equip local people to serve their communities. Basically, it's a community of Americans, Nepalis, Cambodians and Thais coming together to serve each other and the city.
Our time in Thailand was complex the last go-round. We got married a month before we moved overseas (DO NOT recommend). A month into living there, I was injured by a bomb while wandering around at a political protest (Also DO NOT recommend. 0 stars on Trip Advisor for Thai protests). I went to educate about sex trafficking and ended up getting quite the education myself on what that loaded term actually means and looks like. I walked away scarred, literally and otherwise, and just ever so slightly disenchanted with the male gender based on all the abuse and violence I'd witnessed. It was disorienting to be immersed in so many different cultures and languages at once, and I never had any clue what was going on. For a control freak, it was a strangely uncomfortable-in-a-good-way feeling. But I made friends with women who had suffered and they taught me much. I ate things that were still alive. I stood on the Great Wall of China and felt small and on Bangkok trains and felt giant. I lit a building on fire with my lantern that was supposed to bring better luck. I bought Phillip a moto for his birthday and we drove around back roads and felt free. I lived.
Right before we moved back last time, we were driving home in the pitch black in our janky truck I loved, and we pulled over on the side of the road, surrounded by silent rice fields. We laid down in the road and looked up at the stars. I was raw and crying and exhausted, and I made Phillip promise me that we would move back someday. These last five years in Austin have been a joy, but it's time to go. I hope every day there is the best and worst day of my life.