We are sitting in giant white leather recliners, stretched back, feet up. Our fifth foot massage in a week, each time in a different shop. It’s hard to pass up an hour of relaxation when the fee is only $6, so we tend to indulge fairly often. The street outside is busy: rushing tourists, motorbikes buzzing. There is an old Thai lady sitting cross legged in front of a small koi pool just outside my window, selling fresh fruit, making lots of sales, actually, despite the fact that there are hundreds of sellers much like her or have larger, nicer assortments. I keep my eyes out the window, taking it all in. Most of the shop names that I can see from my point of view are written in Thai, some in English. Many are Indian in this part of town, while Russian is predominantly seen everywhere else. It’s an overcast day, hot but not sweltering, and we took advantage of it by sightseeing a bit at the Big Buddha Temple.
Rusty has been quiet for several minutes, then asks…”What do you miss? About home?”
The answer was easy, yet superficial.
I miss knowing where to get things.
If I need something specific, I know where to go and I just GO.
Living in Thailand is not that easy.
Luckily, when it came time for us to purchase the things we needed for our new apartment here in Pattaya, we found some Thai Superstores. Aside from prices being in baht, and writing in mostly Thai, you could have been in any big box store in the States. Pricing on most things was better, but not by much. It made our shopping much easier, especially since the store delivered it all to us, and even installed a big portion of it. So, that was easy.
Things that are more difficult are the everyday things we take for granted. Simple groceries, for example.
In America, you walk into Kroger or HEB and pick up just about anything you could want or need, food wise. There are a couple of similar options here, but on MUCH smaller scales. Foodland is one. We’ve been twice, but never get much, because the street food is so inexpensive compared to the groceries that it doesn’t seem to make sense. So, we pick up a few things there, like fresh milk and potato chips. Oreos for Seven. Some cereal.
The majority of our food shopping we do in the street markets. Rows of fresh vegetables are laid out and weighed as you choose, fruits are whole, or often peeled and cut up, ready for you to eat. We bought a huge bowl of watermelon, cut into pieces already, for a dollar. It was perfectly sweet and ripe, unlike many of the melons I’ve had back in Texas this year, at 4 times the price. We buy cucumbers and greens, cherry tomatoes and pears. We’ve experimented with apples, and have found the Fuji apples here seem to be the best. We buy salt from a street vendor across from the cabbages. It’s 10 baht, or about 30 cents. We leave with a couple bags full, including the salt, for less than 2 dollars.
On nights we don’t feel like walking into town, we have fruit plates and salad. Other nights, we venture into the makeshift market for pad Thai, or kebabs…and all eat for under $2 each. The food is fresh and so full of flavor, plus, watching them cook for us is free entertainment. Seven has adapted so well, and knows exactly what he wants, which surprises me every time. I love that he’s getting this experience, and that Rusty has worked so hard to make this all possible.
We asked Sev yesterday where he wanted to go next summer, as we’ve not planned that far ahead. We offered up France. Italy. He wants to come back here. Although it’s so entirely different than where he’s from, he seems to understand. He knows the country is poor. The residents as well. But he sees them happy, always smiling, always helpful. He does not judge or pity them. He gets it, probably better than we do.
I hope one day he looks back on the life we’ve given him here, and appreciates it, as well as have a better appreciation for the life he has in America. Until you’ve been here, it’s hard to see how easy life is back home.
But for me, for us, this is home now. And I think, in many ways, I will miss it when we aren’t here. We are healthier here. More rested, despite walking an average of 5-6 miles a day. We eat better, we exercise. We play games and swim and wash clothes by hand. We do everything with purpose…something I know we don’t do back home. Maybe coming here has shown me that.
I like having it.