The Unsettlement of Settling In

The Unsettlement of Settling In

Moving into a new house can be stressful. Moving into a house out of town, in the countryside, by myself, in Thailand, when my only transportation is a bicycle (at least for the moment), is kind of isolating. Even though the house is furnished, I need to buy so much stuff. I don’t have pillows, sheets, cleaning supplies, food, or anything. I had the realtor drop me off at Big C to stock up on the basics. My favorite songthaew driver, named Mr. Neng, took me home with all my household goods. Today, she wasn’t there, but usually he drives with his little one year old daughter happily riding along with him. No such thing as a car seat in a songthaew, she just has a little spot with a blanket.

I cooked my first meal in my new house thinking that it would help if I listened to Fresh Air, like I often would when cooking dinner in Portland. The interview was about Portlandia. This made me homesick. I got the feeling something wasn’t right.

I was doubting my decision making and feeling like maybe I shouldn’t have moved here after all. What am I doing here anyway? The house is nice, but I’m feeling like now I’m just far away from where I need to go. I don’t want to drive. I do love it here, I’m just feeling very anxious. Everything from driving to snakes is making me nervous. Snakes and driving? I know it’s a weird combination, but there are snakes around as I live next to a rice field. Driving here has a whole different set of road rules and types of vehicles.

What a difference a day makes. I awoke the next day feeling immediately better when I looked outside and saw this:

View from my back porch. January 7, 2012. There will be rice planted soon.

The rice farmers are planting way out in the field.

View from the backyard

I cleaned inside, unpacked, my internet was installed, my washing machine was dropped off, I went sheet shopping (FYI decent sheets cost a bloody fortune here). A nice lady named Nok, a friend of my landlady who works in my neighborhood community, picked me up and showed me the back way in and out of my neighborhood. She was extremely friendly, had good English, and wants to make sure I’m comfortable in my new home. My tension started to ease.

Doing laundry here is a bit of a process. Since I haven’t done laundry in a machine in months, I thoroughly enjoyed it. First, the washing machine gets filled with a garden hose. When the grey water gets drained, it just comes out another hose, which I use to water the garden. It takes a while, but I found it soothing. I love my view and my garden which has some herbs, flowers, tons of medicinal plants, and fruit trees, and I look forward to planting some vegetables in the backyard.

My outdoor washing machine - filled with a garden hose. The grey water is used to water my garden.

View from my house on January 7th at sunset.

Feeling more settled, that night I called Mr. Neng to take me to Yoga Tree to watch a documentary film called Freedom Ahead about seed saving, self/community reliance, and permaculture around the world. Some places not faraway from here, The Panya Project and Pun Pun, were featured. I saw a bunch of people I knew there, and was invited to a party where I stayed until very late. I’m beginning to feel like I am starting to find a little bit of a community here.

After that late night, I went to yoga at Wild Rose the next morning, out to lunch with some new friends, then for a Thai massage, and Sunday Walking Street. I found some little lamps for my house and a dress. The woman didn’t have a mirror, and asked, “You have camera?” It was not a bad idea.

Good looks with the yoga top and dress at Sunday Walking Street. I bought the dress, which I usually wear without the yoga top underneath.

Tomorrow will be my first day back at school after the break. I’m feeling much more at home in my house, ready for working, and grateful that Mr. Neng, the songthaew driver, can take me to school. I think it’s all going to be OK.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day

It feels like the shift that soon will be my new life is happening. I am deciding on a house to live in today and have put a deposit on a car. With home and transportation it’s like I actually live here. I think it’s a home Ban Wang Tan with rice field view, and little garden, and a 1993 dark green Honda Civic.That’s how things roll these days.

Today was busy. I woke up early naturally as the light streamed in my room and Skyped with my family because it was still Christmas there. It was so nice to laugh with my sisters, Dory and Wendy.

I got my first haircut by someone besides myself in what must be at least 5 years. It was time. Mai cut it. I think it’s too short, as 2 centimeters tends to become 3 inches in the haircutting world. Chances are no one will even notice I got it cut. With the blow dry flip style I feel like I’m wearing a wig. It’s not a bad cut though and mai pen rai, hair grows. I love Mai, who said, “Thailand is no country for old men” love that! I hope it’s true. Mai is my boss’s wife. He is not an old man, but apparently Mai had plenty of proposals from older men back when she was single.

As I was talking with my boss outside Mai’s shop, I met a Mexican yoga teacher who just got back into town. I love Chiang Mai. I went back to my room to get my Nancy Chandler map, which is really an invaluable (don’t get me started on how confusing I think this word is) tool here in the city. It looks like vintage 1974, because it is, (though updated regularly), but it has all sorts of useful information right on the map, and only kick myself for not getting one sooner. I wanted to find a place to workout and a vegetarian place for lunch. I thought I’d try a vegan/raw food place. Unlike the rapid food service that comes with a smile in most places in Thailand, after 40 minutes in this tiny restaurant that only had 2 other customers I was told, “I haven’t even started yours get.” Really? You’re not doing the vegan/raw community any favors sir. I left hungry and slightly annoyed to meet with my realtor. Thankfully, there are fresh fruit juice stands everywhere, and I had a delicious passionfruit juice for 20 baht.

I went with my realtor to sign the contract and the put a deposit on the house. On the way, we looked at another house in a community where all the houses look the same, no view, no garden, no stove, and very hotel like house a bit closer to my school. No. I will move to my house with rice field view. It’s a small house 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, with some logical design. The kitchen, bathroom, and storage space all have practicality involved…and there is a garden with a fish pond, fruit trees, and a rice field view. Here it is:

fish pond at what will be my Thai house as of January 5

It is not letting me insert some photos. I will try inserting a gallery. Click on the images to make them larger.

the awesome western kitchen

The recently harvested rice fields, they will be planted again soon and look very pretty and green

I also wanted to move here because the landlady, Khun Watana, was delightful. She is Thai, but spends most of her time in LA and Costa Rica. Our conversation was in a tiny bit of Thai, a little Spanish, and mostly English. In the typical hospitable Thai fashion, she gave some food. Not only that but, being a natural medicine practitioner, she also gave me some Ayurvedic drops for my nose, which was stuffy, and a 5 minute session of the Gua sha ‘massage’ to remove toxins. My biggest fear of living in that house is driving, especially on Hang Dong Road. I know I will get used to it, but I think it will take a little bit of time. My realtor drove me back to Chiang Mai on some backs roads, which I was glad to know existed.

I got out of the car next to Grace Boutique, where I was staying, and noticed some beautiful art at this cute little art cafe place called Matoom Art Space. I met the wife of the artist, who was an amazing woman from Japan named Yoko, and her a cute baby. I fell in love with a few paintings with two people together happily and trees, lots of water symbolized, Buddhism and meditation too. The artist must be a Pisces. I explained that I would like to draw a partner into my life, and feel I should put art on the wall that represents the life I would like to create. I was thrilled to meet Tua, the artist. I found out he and Yoko are both Pisces. I knew they were kindred spirits and I wasn’t even surprised. Chiang Mai is a city full of Pisces. I loved them and their place and would like to spend time with Tua and Yoko again. I will. His art will grace the walls of my new house. I will make it a nice little place and draw in the person who should be there with me. I need to pursue my art, whether it be visual art or writing. Maybe I’ll also do my own art for the walls.

I love this city and am so glad I actually will have a place to call home here. I’m enjoying this Jazz music that is playing on the stereo here (“…we can fill the need with love in town…” – is that what I’m hearing now?) at Baby Dolls. Sometimes I need reminders of why I am here. I had so many of those magical moments today. Yes, despite occasional homesickness, the love affair with Thailand continues.

I had a dream about Yoyi, my Colombian ex-boyfriend, last night. I remember something about the warmth of his skin, and the grip of his hand. Because of this dream, little things have made me think of him throughout the day. The more I kept thinking about it, I think it was really just the hand letting go. I need another hand to feel as comfortable in my hand as his did, but I also need to feel comfortable with that person in heart and mind. I think I will have a boyfriend that lives in Chiang Mai city.

I just noticed the J&B bottle on the bar wall and thought of my mom. I have never ordered a J&B on the rocks with a twist, her favorite drink (as well as her initials) since she has passed. I drank one with her once, and hated it. My tastes may have changed a bit since then, so maybe I’ll try it again someday. I miss my mom, of course. As I’m thinking this, someone has started smoking near me. Cigarettes are horrible things and my tolerance for smoking has become less and less. Time to go.

2012 I hope you are the year of artistic resurgence, writing, creativity, learning Thai language, and a divine partnership.