1. Bangkok – Laos

Goodbye semester!
beautiful mural found when I was walking from Union Mall to Chatuchak (on my last day)
I landed in Bangkok and took the BTS, making my way to Makkasan > Hua Lamphong Station. Bangkok was a familiar place and didn’t trigger any anxiety. I packed light (40 litres!), so light I felt it was like a usual school day, except this was for one week. 
Upon reaching Hua Lamphong station, I followed the directional signs and made my way to the rail station. Asked where I could get tickets to Nong Khai, and was directed to the Ticket Office for Foreigners. Wow, a ticket office set up for foreigners! No thanks. I queued behind a lady at the counter and asked for the 8pm train to Nong Khai, which I’d read about. Hurray! 
Then I walked to Chinatown. 

Here I ate my lunch / very early dinner. It was about 4pm, and it seems like Chinatown is known for seafood perhaps? There were ethnic Chinese and Thais here, and some shops were selling ‘shark’s fin’ hmmmm. I missed doing fieldwork, I thought as I walked around. It would be nice if I’m armed with a clipboard of questions to ask them about how this place, Chinatown, fits in within Thailand. Or their languages, their heritage… 
I saw a plate of noodles that looked moderately delicious, pointed to it and sat down to eat. As she was preparing the food the rain suddenly came, heavy drops that started pelting from nowhere, harder with every second, the surroundings rising to a roar with their merciless downpour. It was interesting to see how these tiny shop / stalls stretched out their umbrella-like shelters and I continued eating. 
Then, as suddenly as it came, the rain stopped. Stall holders poured away the rainwater and rolled up the waterproof shelters, and the streets were busy again. 

the sun started to set, and i continued walking 

here, i bought my dinner – mango sticky rice

i was excited to board my accommodation for the night:

At about 755pm a man comes to set up the bed, wrapping it with fresh sheets. The boring brown bed changes into an appealing the place to snuggle under the blanket and catch a good night’s sleep. Plus, there’s air con – all for 688 baht. $27.50 

I eat my mango sticky rice, continue my Kafka by the Shore and its bizarre dialogue with cats, and eventually fall asleep.
Good morning Nong Khai! One of the Thai borders near Laos, many foreigners do their visa runs here. I bought my ticket to Vientiane, and waited.


bkk 2014


Bangkok, Land of Smiles –
Sailing along the gritty, grimy streets I couldn’t help but compare it to Vietnam. The hordes of motorcycles I had witnessed just the day before were replaced by trails of cars – pretty new ones too; the roads also seemed newer (cleaner) in comparison to the roads I had strolled across. Words, etched across the giant boards, were similarly foreign like before.



all the electrical jolts






so greedy one

prize presentation ceremony



I suppose life truly works in mysterious ways. Sometimes as I sit in the restaurant, in the bar, along the bridge I look at the 2 boys and it still hits me as almost bizarre that I was here, in bangkok, with them. Not that I expected never to cross paths with them again – but in these ways, the sets of circumstances that led to where we were today… Just not what I could have pictured. Yet it feels almost like the gap of those years didn’t pass that much – though they did, of course. Years of histories and chunks of life had flashed us by, but somehow it still felt a little like 15-16 year olds saying the same jokes and giving the same bullshit again, unchanged. I asked, will you still talk to me like that when I’m 50? I suspect so, and nope, that’s not really bad at all.

Every now and then my host father from Baan Laem Chong Thanon will cross my mind. His gentleness, his kind eyes, his warm smile. And I still feel that intense surge of gratefulness for all that he’s showed me, and all that he’s given to us. I still feel myself tearing up slightly when I think about it at times. Thank you, kop khun kha, once again.

The last night on this bed, under the soft warm blanket

There are so many things that I’m going to miss about this village.

The sturdy roof stacked with leaves that sheltered us in every way, the weaved bamboo walls that chased the cold winds away, the mud walls of our ‘classroom’. The grainy sound of shuffling pebbles as we walked to the classrooms and back home. I remember feeling surprised at how sturdy these structures were, and how they held up.

The stupid roosters to be shooed away, the meow meow in our dining area (awwww :(), and most of all, the children. The children.

I have taken so much away, it’s amazing what 6 weeks can do. I have been presented with such a rare opportunity, for everything that we did, as participants without a worry for the planning, the accommodation, the fear of the setting sun during travels, the fatigue of driving. I have been only a participant, allowed to fully bask in my experience. To have fun, to learn, to grow. And they’ve ensured that, and they’ve succeeded.

FS is one of the most beautiful memories in my life. I believe this thought stays with every single one of us. This journey has been so amazing I hold this thought almost everyday, just before I sleep, how damn lucky I am to be here.

Right now I’m still here, but it’s hard to believe its my last night in this snugly blanket, and that in one more day I will be home. This feels like a dream – and if so I don’t want to wake up just yet. I haven’t raved on and on about their hospitality, their kindness, their ever-open helpful arms, their smiles…

I think I’ll come back someday, this time as a tourist

View: standing on a songtiao

There’s something different about hanging out with the geographers; our observations, some of the things we say, our geographically related ideas about the environment. I really enjoy that, these conversations, subtle lines that draw a connection between us. How we perceive the world geographically. Something heartwarming about that 🙂

I don’t know if it’s because of FS, or because I turned 21, but I have never felt more appreciative of life. I feel thankful, lucky, and appreciative for everything I have, I had, and am having. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed, and it dawned on me that… I’ve realised my meaning in life. What life means to me now, I think, would be moments. Moments frozen in time, where you are happy, you are sad, you are troubled, you are afraid; no matter. It’s the experiences that you go through that blow your mind, that freeze your thoughts, that captivate your visions, that keep you in awe – I live for these moments now, I think.

How incredibly fortunate I am. How do I not forget this feeling?
I want to bottle up these thoughts and emotions of deep contentment and appreciation and breathe deeply into it whenever I lose sight of them when dark clouds gather

Field Studies has been amazing in many ways. 10 days to home, I am happy and sad and I don’t know how that could be.

Children are the sweetest. I mean, they CAN be pesky after awhile, but really, they make me smile and giggle and laugh. And, they (fight to) hold my hand. :))))


Tonight, one of the moments would be J + E + I singing (wholeheartedly) Karaoke at 1+am

I liked this night best

Before we knew it the sun had set, and darkness beckoned. We had missed the boat, and were unsure as to how we’d proceed to our supposed destination. We gathered in our pool of positivity, sat in a circle of food and laughter. Look! someone said. The stars had started to spread across the night sky.

Then –
Warning shots from across the Thailand-Myanmar border pierced the silence of the night. There were flashing lights, and there were murmurs, and there were whispers of crossing a border, and to keep down, lie low. We climbed onto the back of trucks that had arrived, squashed together and huddled close. The truck rockily edged forward, and we were off!

From the modern eye I was sitting on an amusement ride, a rocky ride in the theme park. But this wasn’t a ride, this was real. We were edging forward along a rocky terrain, tree branches scratching the edge of my skin. I wondered for a moment if this was how the refugees, the migrant workers, the holocaust victims, went through when they first boarded the vehicle. They would huddle closer, unsure of what lay ahead. There would be fear, but there would be nervous laughter, and cheerful chatter of the other mundaneness, to remind them of the ordinary. Most significantly, when the truck finally roars into life and trudges ahead, there would be stars. A vast sky of beautiful night stars that brought the simplest joys and hope amidst the dark.

-inserts mental picture-

I caught sight of a shooting star. I forgot to make a wish because I was excitedly exclaiming to the rest. It took me a second to think about what I should wish for, and then I realised very simply – or not -, I wished to be contentedly happy.


Rare off day! Presently at Sukhothai – we have hopped from Sg – Msia – Songkhla – Ban Laem Chong Thanon / Phatthalung – Ranong – Kanchanaburi – Sukhothai, just to trace the trail
Rare time for myself, in my room, now
It’s going to be difficult to trace my everyday – everyday is exciting, everyday I feel happy, happy – bouts of stress and fatigue, but happy
Drafts from the first week
Hello from  Thailand!
The first 3 days have been nothing short of amazing – I feel so happy here, I’m excited at almost everything and I’m annoyingly chirpy all the time. Yup, one of those annoying seemingly-perpetually-happy-and-chirpy people who laugh really loudly. But I really am :’) 
My Thai buddy has been nothing but kind, forgiving, lovely. In fact, all the Thai people are. ‘The Land of Smiles’ so to speak –
some rough notes from the past few days
speech from Dr. Carl that I was absolutely enchanted by- i felt immensely touched by his words, and it is moments like this that will stay with me till the end of the trip or more. I only wish that I can have a TINGE of his charisma – those words…
Watching my silly roomies being all silly and teenage girly giggling in the room hehehehe and it’s only our third day together :’) 
Calling each other scaredy cat in Thai, roomy cute (cute = eyebrow or something HAHAH) I can just feel it, I’m falling in love with this scene, watching them rolling on their beds and giggling. 
I talked to Kaew, Vern, Wilda, Kwan, etc over the past few days. Along the streets, the sands, the coastal shoreline of Samilah Beach, on the bus… If we shared a common language of fluency, we would have been good friends. Our experiences as university students are (pretty) similar. Friendships, laughter. Conversations. I sat in the middle of them in the tuk tuk. On my left a Singaporean group of girls, on my right the Thai buddies. It struck me, as I sat between the 2 groups, that these were 2 groups of people conversing in different languages, but they were essentially the same. The tone, the figure behavior, the expressions, the exclamations of friendships. They were apparent. And they were human.
Of course they are, and of course I knew that. But what takes me in awe is my question of – what if I was born in another country, how would I be now. Very easily one of them. Our experiences parallel each others’ very deeply, and it is (almost) only the language that differs. 
Anyway, I had a really good time and I’m happy 🙂
day 1
thaksin university – meet buddy 🙂
orientation – underwear superman game, instructions one, had to do chicken dance forfeit thai-style
reclining buddha
seafood by the lake
day 2
i liked this day best out of the 3. we ate breakfast (simple, but so good) at their canteen (chicken porridge), went to the Thaksin Folklore museum where I lost my camera thing :'(, went to nangam (??) street – hipster cafe with SUPER YUMMY FOOD that I paid 100 baht for (89 baht per person only :’)) and then ice cream thereafter (tried it with egg white + nice lady – funny pushing money scene)
Beach at night, we walked along the shores and I remember talking to Kwan / Phim about school, orientations, boys.. sigh, being able to share opinions on things and finding that similarity startles me with joy. And I guess that’s pretty bad, because in experiencing joy at our similar experiences, I have been subconsciously Other-ing them.What makes them different from us anyway? Why should I be anymore surprised? 
I really liked this day because I felt like I had a conversation with some depth with them. 🙂 Also, knowing that they stroll along the beaches in the evenings, and hanging out together after school, and watching them in their tuktuks, eating the street food makes me so envious of the friendship they share. Such pure joy. Maybe it’s because I’m a third party, but from the way Kaew speaks of them, it’s very clear they’re all sweet, nice people. My kind of people…
I’ve never thought of myself as a talkative / social kind of person, so it really strikes me as strange that I’ve been receiving remarks like that over the years. I mean, it’s almost bizarre, because I know I’m pretty shy/private with people. I guess I’m mostly surprised, because they don’t seem to be able to see through my cover. I guess it makes me wonder if i really do fake things really well.