There are definite signs that a need for adventure has sunk deep into the soul. The feeling that the comfort zone that you are living in is inescapable. The routine of life isn’t brought into balance with a feeling that what you are doing is important or necessary. However, the signs an adventure should end are less certain and apparent. I wonder about hard decisions and if sometimes the hard decision and the good one are synonymous.
Most people including myself would lead you to believe that my wanderlust is a condition that is incurable and allows me reprieve from things like homesickness. I would love if this were the case and if it was as simple as packing a bag and never looking back. This couldn’t be further from the truth. To close yourself off from a feeling, even a terrible one, doesn’t let you truly appreciate the experience you are taking part in.
I was sitting outside sweat pouring down my forehead as the class ate a various assortment of items made entirely out of sugar. Snack time. I talked to P’Pu, the classes’ Thai assistant, about what made me come to Thailand. I told her that first I was interested in teaching and my ability as an educator. The second thing I said was that I have a persistent and unshakable curiosity about the world. It was surprising, to realize that this was what came out in conversation. If you had asked me in the airport why I was boarding the plane to Thailand I would have said plainly the need for adventure. However, that is not the reason I am staying.
P’Pu responded by asking if I planned on staying and I heard the words before registering them.
“Yes,” I said. It was as if I had to say it out loud to understand that it was the right decision.
“Good Teacher, the 5 years I have worked here, 10 different foreign teachers. No one stay. They want travel but not job.” She replied.
I understand people want, maybe even need new experiences. Chachoengsao is not the place for everyone. It doesn’t hold the same possibility that it does for me. The Thai way of life and the general allure of going home may be too much. But what has become true for me is that it is a lot harder to leave my students than it would be for my students to leave me. At the end of next term, they will move on to K3 and I will return home. My only hope is that I have made a deep enough impression to be committed to memory.
I can’t wait for another term of craft projects, sticky hands, and the unconditional support I receive both from my Thai Teacher and assistant. I can’t wait to teach my students about Christmas in a country unfamiliar with snow and pine trees. It will be hard. It would be an insult to the family that I left behind to say that it will be easy to stay. I miss even the simplest things as striking up a conversation standing in line for coffee and the colors of foliage. I’m forever grateful for the chances I have had to see the corners of the world but to be a traveler in some ways means that you will never be content. I am like Gretel sans Hansel, leaving breadcrumbs but instead it’s pieces of my heart and there is no clear path out of the forest.
While my decision to stay for another term was driven mainly by my love of teaching the children I do, it also means I get more opportunities to travel. I have planned an upcoming trip to Vietnam where I will be traveling from Da Nang north to Hanoi and Sapa. The first leg of the adventure will be with Hannah who I am very excited to travel with as we had a fantastic time on Koh Phi Phi. After the first week, we will meet up with Amy who will trek with us to Sapa.
After we return to Hanoi, they will continue to Bali before eventually making the journey back to England. There is a small flame that lives in my chest that hopes for easy goodbyes but is always quickly extinguished by connection and a feeling; “If I just had a little more time.” I sometimes think that only knowing someone for so long will help ease the feeling but in fact it makes it more potent and overwhelming. Thankfully, I do get just a little more time in a land I have yet to explore and I couldn’t be anymore grateful.
To all the beautiful souls I have met, keep the adventure alive and have safe journeys. In all the goodbyes don’t forget to think about the future with wonder.
With Love, Wanderlust, and Wonder,
The Exuberant Traveler