- The handling of bugs and other woodland creatures:
While it is not appropriate to claim that I remain ‘cool’ or ‘calm’ in the presence of the creepy crawlies… I have come a loooong way.
For example: It’s rainy season. This mean it’s the season of my all time favorite insect–the flying termite. I hate these stupid and arguably harmless bug with every inch of my being and usually have to wrap my head in some sort of protective garb in order to keep them from burrowing into my hair and never coming back out. Yes. BUT… the other night, we had two friends over for dinner and when the assigned time came for these bugs to begin swarming around my head and… I DID NOT retreat into the house, nor did I wrap my hair in anything. Perhaps this was a one time scenario, but it seemed momentous at the time.
Another example of my adaptation is in relation to those dang huntsman spiders (go here if you need to be reminded of what I used to be like…). Just the other day I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom and I saw one peeping out from under my bed. Instead of springing up in panic, I sat there and calmly told him that we could co-exist as long as he kept his distance. I trust he has kept up his side of the promise… and what I don’t know, I want to keep that way.
There are other examples of this, but if I want you to read this entire post, I suppose I should get moving on.
2. My perception of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ weather:
We are coming off one of the hottest hot seasons Thailand has known in many years… like at 60 years. (I want to say 100 years, but then someone might fact check me and I may be exaggerating…) It’s been hot. We had week after week into months of weather hitting 110, 112, 114 fahrenheit with overnight lows of 85, 88, 90. Overnight. Lows.
I do not sleep in air conditioning. This particular year I had three short stays in peoples’ homes where I was blessed with a climate controlled bedroom.. but those nights only made nights back in my bedroom nearly impossible. At home, I would wake up in the middle of the night literally dripping in sweat. It was hot.
Now that the rains have begun our highs are only 97…95 and this Tuesday it gets down to a HIGH of only 91. With overnights lows as low as 75. And guess what. I get cold at night. Instead of waking up in sweat… I wake up to add a blanket and/or turn off my fan.
This is adaptation.
3. Personal hygiene:
Over the course of my short life I have somehow gained the reputation of being… how should I say?.. dirty? In Thailand they have a phrase ‘สกมก’ (sokmok) which roughly translates as ‘dirty homeless person’. This is a word that has been used to describe me. John Huffman likes to tell hyperbolized stories of my lack of feminitiy and seemingly displaced desire to shower. It was not uncommon for me to go 2, 3…4 days without showering. Looking back, this is slightly embarrassing… but, what can I say?
In Thailand, this is not acceptable. Thai people shower at least twice a day, every day. Regardless of activity and sweat levels. Twice a day. I was a walking offense. However, those days are behind me and I can proudly say that I shower–at least–once a day, but often two–even three times a day.
I have turned a page in my life. So long สกมก. Hello being clean.
4. The use of the Thai language:
Thai has become such a normal part of my life that I often speak Thai without taking into account who I am talking to. For example, I had a meeting with one of my professors at University and as she is Thai, I naturally just started talking to her in Thai. However, this was not appropriate, as I am in an international program studying about teaching English. My professor does not talk to her Thai students in Thai… let alone her American student.
Another example happened today in my classroom. If one of my students needs further explanation of something I have gone over repeatedly in English, I will revert to Thai to ensure that comprehension is there. I have two students from English speaking homes in my classroom and today one of them was asking for further explanation. I knelt down beside him and started explaining the activity to him in Thai. He does not speak Thai.
This also comes out when I am with other English speakers and drop Thai words into the conversation because I cannot think of a word to express the appropriate message in English. How did I ever thoroughly communicate before?
5. I find Asian men attractive:
Before moving to Thailand I had no interest, whatsoever, in Asian men. So often I would get asked, ‘do you think you will marry a Thai person‘ and I would almost get offended by the question. No. I had this misconception that all Thais (and therefore, all Asians) are super short, super skinny and have weird voices. I also thought that all Asian people look the same.
Well, guess what. Asians (and Thais) come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of personalities and all have very diverse facial features. Asian women have long been praised for their beauty, but I am here to say that Asian men can be quite attractive as well.
Of course I am not attracted to every Thai man that walks past me… but that wasn’t the case in America either.
For me, the surest sign that I have adapted to Thailand is that I have crushes on at least four Thai guys.
So there you have it. After a little over three and a half years, I can say with some amount of confidence, I have adapted to Thailand.