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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All good things come to an end

Today is my last day in Thailand.

I don't think three weeks could have gone so quickly and been more fun.

The car arrives to take me to Bangkok at 6:30 PM tonight. My flight leaves at 11:55 PM. I am assured of better Wifi connection at the airport than I've had at my condo, which has been iffy at best. The only place I can really blog without total frustration is at the pool but there's lots of activity and even more distractions when the Internet doesn't have moments when it simply drops for no obvious reason.

I won't be missing the WiFi here.

I'm going to miss "The Boyz of Suni Plaza, Soi VC 7". They have been very dear and gracious and generous to me. Treated me like a proper lady, they did. Well, except for the language, which, from time to time, turned the air blue. No matter where you are in the world, boyz will be boyz - especially when they get together and forget there's a proper lady present.

I will also miss my brothers, the monks at the Wat, who have been my prayer companions on this journey. You may not have known it, but while you were praying for me, we were praying for all of you. I've learned some wonderful chants which I'll be taking with me and incorporated into my daily meditation and prayer life.

It's a bit different from saying the rosary, but not by much, really. Except, it's all chanted. Not anything like Anglican chant, but more like Taize chant, which I've always loved.

I went to morning prayer for the last time this morning. As I bid them all farewell, one of the monks said, "Ah, now craving you, sister Elizabeth. You crave me, too?"

Oh, yes, dear brothers. I craving you already. It's not something I intend to work to rid myself of, either. Buddha will forgive me. So will Jesus, I'm sure.

I'm missing Rob already, who is the reason I came here in the first place. As my Portuguese grandmother would say, I already have 'suadade'. He's been most generous and uncommonly gracious. He's my brother, sure and true.

We're talking about his coming to the States this July / August. Next year, I hope to return to Thailand, stay a few days, and then Rob and I will hop a plane to Nepal and visit Katmandu for five or seven days. I'll return to Thailand with him, stay another five to seven days and then head home.

I'm already excited.

I will tell you about my experience last night.

Rob was out at rehearsals, so I walked to my favorite little 'hole in the wall' place - The Or-Ah-Harn Thai Restaurant - which just got a new sign out front.

Oh, there was much rejoicing and celebrating over that. The cook had promised me my last wonderful dinner of Mussaman Chicken which was absolutely superb.

After dinner, as I was taking a leisurely stroll home, just as I got near the Wat, I was greeted by a most pleasant Thai man, standing up near the wall.

"Sawadee, Madam" he said, smiling broadly. (Sawadee means 'Good day' or 'Good evening'.)

"Sawadee," I said.

"Ah, farang lady want manshaft? 300 bahat. We go to your place? Manshaft and massage? 500 baht."

It took me a few moments to register what he was saying.  I thought, 'Manshaft'? What is he saying? And then, I 'heard' it and what he was "offering" me.

It took me a few more moments to try and figure out an appropriate response, which I thought was fairly measured, given my sense of outrage.

I told him what he could do with his "manshaft". Well, that's essentially what I said, expletives deleted. Manshaft? Are you kidding me? Where did he ever learn that? Rob says he's been reading straight porn. Or, some other European farang taught it to him.

He also told me I was offered a really good price for Pattaya. A massage alone would cost 300 baht. I guess something got lost in the cultural translation.

I did have a few moments as I was walking back to my room, when I thought, perhaps, I should have made a different response - like, maybe, not using the expletives, but Rob also said that my response was exactly right.  Had I been "nice," he would have taken it as an invitation to press on.

Well, I guess I'll have that story to tell my grandchildren in my dotage. Or, maybe not.

Of course, I will be happy to be home - after 23 hours in the air and after I recover from the jet lag (which I'm seriously dreading) - but I shall miss everyone I've come to know and become so fond of here in Thailand.

I won't be missing the heat and humidity, though. Gawd, its beastly. No joke. I won't be complaining about the summer heat and humidity in Delaware, that's for sure. Well, not this summer, anyway. I'm sure by the time next summer rolls around, my memory will have faded just a tad.

I might have a reflection or two about my experience in Thailand left in me, which will pop out after I get home, but I think you may have had enough of this.

Thank you for all your kind comments - especially those of you who left them here and suffered through the word verification process in order to do it.

All too soon, it will be "wheels up" and I'll be flying back home to see my loved ones. So, you'll excuse me while I savor these last few moments in The Land of Smiles.

I'm so blessed to have had this experience. Thanks for sharing it with me.


David@Montreal said...

dearest Elizabeth:
this trip has been such an incredible gift- and not just for you and Rob.
thank-you again for taking the time and making the effort to share it with us all.
as to those yet-to-pop-up thoughts and insights we're all waiting to hear them when you've got your feet up on your new deck and the breeze off the marsh is....just right, and your glass has worked up an opaque sweat.
in the meantime, bon retour sweet sister: God-speed

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Maybe it's me, but um...I figured out what "manshaft" was pretty darn quick. LOL. I'm still rolling over that one!

Jim said...

Prayers for safe travel!

I am glad you had a great experience.


it's margaret said...

Travel safely, dear sister.

Brother David said...

I would like to hear more about your experiences with the monks at the Wat. Who you met. What they shared. What you shared. Do you have photos? Did they understand that you were also ordained? Etc.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

My dear brother, David - It has indeed been a blessing. I'm glad you liked my "dispatches from Thailand". I'm in Tokyo right now, waiting for my 19 hour flight to take me home. I miss my family and can't wait to see them again.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks for your prayers, Jim. Pray for endurance!!!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - I must say that, while I went out at night alone a handful of times, this was the first time I was ... "approached". It was disconcerting and it took me a minute to figure out just what he was saying...and, why. Talk about barking up the wrong tree!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Margaret

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Brother David - It would have been disrespectful for me to take pictures of the monks. I got one of the back of two young monks scurrying to the Wat and I was quickly admonished.

I will write more about my experience with the monks in a later post.

JCF said...

I'm missing Rob... He's my bother, sure and true.

Heh-heh, Freudian Slip? ;-p


I told him what he could do with his "manshaft". Well, that's essentially what I said, expletives deleted.

Now, now, Lisbeth, no need for "Straight Panic". As always in these situations (straight or gay), the proper answer is "No thank you". [Or maybe "NO! Thank you." ;-D]

MarkBrunson said...

I haven't been well enough, or at leisure enough to follow your entire holiday - did you get to see the royal family, at all?

I assume, of course, that you gave muai thai (sic) a miss.

It is considered disrespectful to treat monks and temples as mere tourist attractions in the Theravada tradition (as I understand - it's Hinayana and I've always tended more towards Mahayana).

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - You know, I had to think about whether or not to change it. He's my brother in part because he's such a bother. I adore him.

As for the "Straight Panic" - it's what a straight Thai woman would have said to him. Otherwise, they take "nice" for an opportunity to negotiate. It's just business, is all.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mark, I'm sorry you've not been well. Feel better soon.

We did go to dinner at Mata Hare. While we were there, one of the Royal Princesses came in. It's her favorite restaurant. When she arrived, those of us who were there were told we could stay but to "hurry along". Everyone else was turned away.

Several of the wait staff were in tears. "They are our gods," one whispered to me as he wiped away the tears.

I appreciate it but I don't get it.

Muthah+ said...

Dang, I have been stealing your stuff for sermons. I am going to miss your daily tour log. I won't ever be able go there because the heat would get to me, but I am so glad you shared.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Muthah+ Wait - you live in TX where it gets 110 in the shade. If you can live in TX you can live in Thailand. Trust me on this.

textjunkie said...

these have been amazing posts--thank you so much for sharing them, and have a great trip home!