I don't know if this is normal or if I should be concerned, but it still hasn't clicked yet. I know that I'm on the opposite side of the world (relative to all but one of my other friends and family) but I don't feel it. On an emotional level, I just don't understand. What do you mean, the plan worked? How is it possible that after all the time I've spent thinking about this in the theoretical, it is now occurring in the actual? Dat shit don't make sense yet.
But hey! Here I am. So here's the quick, hopefully-not-boring story of my trip so far. I'll try to abbreviate it by leaving out excessive details and having a poor memory. Actually, no I won't. This is going to be long. Even if you've liked my blog so far, prepare to hate it ...But please don't actually hate it.
Honest-to-gods terror. It's what I felt as I made the final move to quit my job; It's what I felt on the way from Meadville to Pittsburgh to be dropped off without a car, phone, or most of my earthly possessions; It's what I felt on the way to the Pittsburgh airport; It's what I felt even as I made my way through the airport and eventually boarded my first flight, wide-eyed and ready for some random diety to reach down, slap me across the face, and point one large finger back toward home. Instead, I met Frank.
Frank spoke with a kind of measured calm that could have talked me away from a building ledge, or convinced me to just put down the bomb and have dinner with his family rather than going down in a bloody blaze of glory. "Come on, spaghetti's better than being dead," he would say to me, one hand outstretched. I might try to reason around his statement, but would be unable to do so. Inevitably, I would concede, step away from the ledge, and hand over the bomb. Then he really would take me to have dinner with his family. He really meant it, the whole time.
Frank talked with me for a majority of the flight. He was a teacher on his way to Haiti to build homes for the destitute. He described the terrible conditions down there, the squalor those people live in. He told me he'd gone there several times for the same purpose. As if he secretly knew me, he advised me to let go of my hate. No kidding, he did. And he told me he admired what I was doing. This guy, who was headed to a foreign country for the sole purpose of working his ass off to help out the locals, said he admired what I was doing. It would have been easy for him to think of me as just some naive, pre-college-trust-fund kid with more money than brains, but as far as I could tell, he meant what he said. It still doesn't make sense, but I still believe him. He just seemed like that nice of a guy.
I consider that to be the de facto start of my trip, and a foreshadowing of what was to come. While the 27 combined hours of flights and layovers, two days in chaotic Bangkok, 11 hours of train, 1.5 hours of bus and 2 hours of ferry were rough, I'm starting to feel good about this decidedly drastic decision. The people of Thailand have been overwhelmingly friendly. Smiles and nods are quick and convincing, everyone is very helpful, and while Bangkok was a bit stressful, peace seems to win out everywere else. So far, so good.
I lied. This isn't a story of my whole trip. But I'll get to the other stuff eventually, and I'll tie off this entry by describing a portion of last night.
Around 8, Melissa and I wandered along the beach. The lights of the quiet restaurants stood out in the darkness and reflected off the gently lapping waters of the bay. People sat, walked and mingled here and there, carrying on quiet conversations. There were absolutely no loud drunken partygoers, which was a testement to Melissa's wisdom in choosing a hotel far from the site of the Full Moon Festival. Menus sat on podiums which stood facing the water at intervals, often accompanied by collections of freshly-caught fish that were available for barbequeing. Eventually, we chose a restaurant and had dinner. I had 200 grams of fresh barracuda, cut and grilled thirty or so feet away, accompanied by a surprisingly delicious salad. I also had a 32 oz Beer Chang, 6.4% AVB. Part-way through our meal, our friendly and charming waiter took a break from serving food. He took off his shirt, lit each end of a stick on fire, and did a fire dance for twenty minutes. After he finished, he resumed waiting. Total cost of my portion of the meal: 240 Baht = $8.
After we finished and paid we walked back along the beach to our bungalow. I still don't know how this is admirable, but I really, really enjoy it.