In the day when our life comes to the point of change

This week has been extremely draining. The worse is it’s not because I am busy with work but because I am in the middle of a huge change. I have exactly 2 weeks left in the office and in Bangkok. After which I will spend 2 weeks on vacation back home in the Philippines before flying to Australia to start graduate school.

Today I could not work. I am sick, actually. My brain cannot – do not want to — function. I am in a mixed emotion between separation anxiety and metathesiophobia which is ironic because people know me as a risk-taker and one who dreads routine.

A friend posted a video of my favorite Thai song on Facebook (the only Thai song I know, actually). I have been listening to this song for more than 2 years. I listen to it before I sleep. I listen to it in the taxi on my way to the airport, on the plane, and in my hotel room. I listen to it in my daily train ride if I am not reading a book. I listen to it at ungodly hours and unearthly places. It’s one of the only 12 songs I downloaded in my iPhone.

I first heard of it at the farewell dinner of one of the most important and instrumental persons in my life. How time flies. Now that person is back in Thailand and I am the one leaving. We will have dinner on Friday, probably our last. Whether our paths will cross again in the future, only God knows.

Did I say I have been listening to this song for more than 2 years? Then I must add that in those times I did not bother searching for its English translation. I have no idea why. But today, I did. Listen to the song below with both Thai and English subtitle.

And indeed, songs become more powerful when they speak to us and hit us to the core. This song did just that.


Books: Why I prefer paperback

Our generation has become rapidly digitalized. Nowadays many people read e-books, the digitization of the written word which began as early as 1971 through Project Gutenberg which was meant to archive cultural works. However, its popularity was not evident until 1993 when Peter James made his novel, Host, available on digital copy. So it took a novel for people to start embracing the concept of reading an e-book, huh.

Several of my friends have encouraged me to buy kindle. My answer was always a quick NO. Reading a book for me is “sacred” from smelling it to leafing through the pages and seeing progress in each chapter. It’s also my way of disconnecting from the internet. Reading e-books feels like I am still not fully disconnected from the digital world.

Through 6 years of living in Bangkok, I’ve hoarded a massive collection. I’m not into shopping so my place doesn’t have much stuff except books. I’ve grown attached to each one of them that against my friend’s suggestion to sell them, I decided to ship them all home.

Books Bangkok

Reading e-books has its advantages but since I haven’t read one, I am not the right person to comment. I do know that you can carry hundreds and thousands of books in just about 7-13 ounce, 4×7 inch e-readers.

While reading e-books has its advantages, studies show that reading paperbacks is better. The Guardian reports that based on a new Europe-wide research, readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper. The research found that, “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does”.

TIME also highlighted the benefits of reading a “real” book stating it increases intelligence, boosts brain power, improves empathy, helps fight Alzheimer’s disease, helps you sleep among others.

I spent hundreds of dollars shipping all my books home but it’s all worth it. Those books will not only remind me of the wonderful time we shared in Bangkok, they are also treasures I can share with my future family (if I ever get married).


3AM meetup and life on the edge

I have this impulsive habit my friends call “Cambodia syndrome”. It was during my annual leave in June 2014 that I woke up at 9AM and declared I will go to Cambodia. All I did was check if there is a train scheduled to Aranyaprathet, a province in eastern Thailand that borders with Cambodia, then packed my bag and left. I didn’t know yet how to actually reach Siem Reap, where to stay or what exactly I should anticipate from the trip. I just wanted random things to happen without me making so much fuss planning about it. My close friends who know me well are aware how such a risk-taker I am. And I have lived life this way even before that trip to Cambodia.

Long train ride from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet

Long train ride from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet

It was summer. I just finished my first year at uni. I went to my cousin’s birthday party. She told me about her school and how it looked like one in the telenovela, Meteor Garden, with its natural beauty and a beach at the lower campus. I went home, woke my mom from her nap and told her I will transfer to my cousin’s school. This is where I’m good at, running away.

After graduation, I went to apply for a job. I did not get in. The interviewer told me I have a different potential and may pose risks to the company (private). He said, “I don’t think you belong here. We invest money training our staff but you don’t seem to be the kind who would stay longer.” So much about being honest on one’s passion.

I went home feeling bad about the result. Although it may not have been because I am not good enough, still I took it against myself. I was on a hammock feeling bitter when suddenly I thought about coming to Thailand. I chose Thailand because 1) I did not need a visa 2) It is geographically well-positioned in the region 3) I have this beautiful image of Thailand in my head – glistening temples, monks meditating – and it has a vibrant, friendly society. In less than a week I flew to Thailand. I told myself I will stay for just one year, work on whatever decent job I can get, explore the country, mend my chaotic and confused heart, get a headspace and decide which direction I want to take, then leave.

Six years after, I found myself having trouble getting around the fact that I am leaving Thailand in 8 weeks from now. This country that cradled me, the country now I call home, how can I be leaving it already?

I’m moving to Australia for grad school at the University of Sydney, another impulse of mine. With the little time I have left, I juggled between finishing work, putting my life of 6 years into boxes, making arrangements in Sydney and meeting friends.

Last Sunday, I told my friend Art that I’m leaving and it would be nice to see him. This man being a troll told me we can meet 3AM at Burger King (open 24 hrs). Perhaps he didn’t know who he was talking with. Of course I agreed and he suffered from his own trap! It was an amusing experience though, meeting at 3AM! Like, who would do that? Although what started as amusing ended up to be embarrassing for me, having to meet his mom at his house who must have been thinking what kind of a woman would allow a meetup at a wee hour.

I left his home at 6AM and walked to Benchasiri Park. I guess about an hour walk can only get you numb for a minute. And then a pang… wrench.

Benchasiri Park, Bangkok

Benchasiri Park, Bangkok

It was when it started to sink in that I was leaving, for real. I’ve been living life on the edge; always going beyond my comfort zone. Thailand has become a comfort zone and this was probably why I decided it’s time to leave, among other reasons. But why has it become this hard?

I guess it’s because my spontaneity has led me here, a country where I had a life all by myself away from the shield of my family; a country where I battled with my own demons; a country that opened my eyes to a vast horizon; a country that showed me the beauty of imperfections, the possibility of new beginnings. It’s the country where I met the person who makes saying goodbye the hardest.

Want to be spontaneous? For once, try to let go of fears and just go somewhere for some adventures. All you have to do is identify certain places or countries you want to visit, check and book cheap accommodations HERE then off you go. Oh of course, once you find cheap places to stay you also have to book your flights if you need to fly. Enjoy the uncertainty!