Dear Ban Phe;
We’ve had a good two months. From the moment I stepped off the bus, smelled your fishy smell and saw the sad excuse for a public garbage dump on your main road I thought that we might have a problem. However, I quickly got used to the smell of drying fish and learned how to avoid breathing from my nose when I passed the dump.
The first month brought a lot of fun. Meeting new people and making fast friends, going to class every day and spending a couple weekends on the beautiful shores of Koh Samet. It was a good month spent exploring back streets full of wonderful little shop front restaurants and enjoying the westerner bar, Christie’s.
The second month hasn’t been as good as the first, as I watched all my new friends leave, headed home or elsewhere, but it gave me a lot of time to self reflect and enjoy lazy, sun-soaked days. This month saw me get a job, lose a job,** and get offered too many to choose from. I’m happy to say that I’ve now figured out my life and will also be leaving your tourist piers and seashell shops, but not before I buy some of your beautiful seashell jewelry and decorations, my new apartment will bear memories of you.
Throughout these two months I’ve been amazed at how accepting and wonderful your citizens are. They are always willing to help and are genuinely curious about you and your life. I will be sad to say goodbye to all the friends I’ve made here that I’ve only ever been slightly able to communicate with. But to those who have helped me learn the little Thai I know, thank you. I could not have done it without you. Despite you wanting to practice your English, I am grateful for the conversations we had in Thai, ordering and paying for food. It’s a start!
To the staff at Christie’s; you were always a pleasure. I don’t know how you girls make every single customer feel welcome not only in the bar, but in the town. I thank you for taking us newbies under your wing and showing us Beach Bar and for constantly running to 7-11 when Sam requested more Spy Coolers.
As I pack my bags to leave this humid “non-touristy” beach town, with it’s abundance of tourist bars and restaurants. I’m sad to say that I can’t help but think of the negatives: I was just not meant to see the Rayong Aquarium, the only tourist destination aside from Koh Samet, your clinic could use a better doctor, and your beaches could use a full sweep from all the rubbish that has washed up on shore.
I will miss the quiet streets and my even quieter guesthouse, with only the random weekend wedding preventing me from sleeping until the god-awful hour of 11 PM. (How dare they? Don’t they know that some people don’t have lives and that Thai pop makes their ears bleed?) I’ll miss watching sunsets over the main strip.
I will miss the friendly smiles as I walk down the street, from the guy who lives in a shack in the field and takes care of all the puppies, to the staff at Christies and the old woman at Bedrock who is a seriously amazing cook and last but not least, to the staff that work here at Koh Kaew resort. Quiet little Boo and her German boyfriend, Yergan, the new cook, Lot, and the old man who seems to spend his days and nights on the couch viewable from my patio have always been nothing but accommodating and friendly. Welcoming smiles from those that recognize you and are truly happy to see you will be something that I remember fondly about Ban Phe. (And, of course, the smell of squid)
** I don’t want to focus too much on it, but on getting and (rather quickly) losin) a job here in Ban Phe:
I was ready to settle in, as is evidenced by a previous post deleted in anger. The job itself would have been mediocre, but the staff I worked with would have made it alright and the pay for the work was more than acceptable. However, in true Thailand fashion, things sometimes just don’t work out as well as planned. It’s best to shake my head, say “mai ben rai” and move on without (too many) expletives. Lesson learned: approach pilot projects with utmost caution.
I’m glad for it now, as I’m ready to move on and explore a new town and gain a different experience of life here in Thailand.