Being half Thai you'd think I got the opportunity to get a satisfyingly good grasp of this part of my roots, despite being born and raised in Norway - considering that my mother relentlessly tried to teach me Thai and gave me an insight in Thai culture, also taking me and my sister several times to visit our grandfather ("Dtaa", in Thai) and other relatives still left in her home town, Hua Hin.
It's almost sad how this former small fishing village has turned into this massive touristy place, with Seven Eleven shops and internet cafés popping up everywhere, and even having Scandinavian restaurants selling Norwegian newspapers.
When I was a child, Dtaa's very modest and typical Thai style house (which I like to refer to as "the shack") still found itself located in a remote area. Now it's sourrounded by massive multiple story houses, populated by farangs (westerners). Before you had to travel into the town center to go to the market early in the morning, now shopping malls and Starbucks are paving their way.
The picture above shows one of the many "play areas" Dtaa had around the house. He was always busy, doing something. On the picture you can see a few (four..) of his dogs and his "comfy" sitting bench to the right (it's good for your back!). There were always a lot of animals being taken care of; turtles, cats, dogs, several big ponds of fish around the house. I remember him having seven cats at one time, and he would even take the colour he used to dye his hair jet black to create a unibrow on one of his small dogs. Weird sense of humor, that ol' fella.
I've taken several pictures I would've loved to show you guys, but unfortunately they all suffered a tragic hard-drive death a couple of years ago. Needless to say I now am the owner of two external hard drives, in addition to my macbook.
Midway through high school I decided that I needed to spend time in Thailand, to get a better grasp of my roots and learn the language better. You can say I got to do some soul searching too.
I started taking more shifts at work, saving money, until I had saved up enough to be able to survive a full year in Bangkok on my own two feet.
I had an amazing year, being all alone in the crazy big city of Bangkok. Sure I made friends, but I never really met anyone in a similar life situation. There were mostly Japanese people in their late twenties at my school, already married and looking for work in Thailand, so for an 18-year-old it wasn't always easy to find someone like-minded to confide in. But this was just yet an other challenge.
I learned a lot, not only how to read and write Thai, but of course about life, myself and how incredible fortunate I am to be born in Norway - being able to go to school, having an extra job, providing for myself and being independent.
I think a lot of this we tend to take for granted, living in the western world, not realising (or wanting to realise) that our reality isn't neccesarily the reality of those out there, in the world.
We should at least be grateful and take the possible eye-widening opportunities we get, such as getting an education, travel and contribute to the society.
Bangkok is truly the city of my heart.