Thailand arrival: culture shock

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As I just sit here, in this crowded Starbucks, surrounded by people, people coming, people going, people drinking their coffees and checking their phones, as I sit here, waiting for my flight to Singapore to open, I realize how much my life has changed in the last three weeks.

It is not the big obvious changes that startle me. I knew how big a change this was going to be, moving from my safe public servant work near my little sleepy village in Alicante to a full bet on freelancing and entrepreneurship in one of the biggest metropolis there is: Bangkok.

And yet, it is not the big city that shocks me, and there is no panic or vertigo when I wake up every morning and remember there is no office to go to, no schedule to follow, that I am now my own boss.

It is the little things that make me feel how much life has changed: suddenly hearing but not understanding what people says around you, looking at commercials on the street and not getting a single word cause the different alphabet. Feeling strange because of that, shocked that this is not what you remembered from your previous visits but realizing it makes all the sense in the world. Talking too much when you meet people who speaks English just because you can and you are so looking forward to get to know your fellow citizens.

Saying sawadee ka every time you lock eyes with somebody while you press your hands together and lower your head. Getting surprised every time I smile and I am smiled back, moved by the warmth and generosity of those smiles. Shocked that I finally found a place where people smile as much as I do or I smile as much as they do.

Worrying about the plunge line of my dresses and t-shirts (for apparently this is the only female dress issue that matters, extreme miniskirts not posing a problem and being extremely present).

Looking at the other girls and wondering how they can wear those long sleeved elegant work attires and look radiant when you can only manage skimpy summer dresses and you sweat more than you ever have (actually you never used to break a sweat in Europe)

People and cars, always many many people everywhere and always traffic and jams, always cars and motorbikes even where you less expect them. Learning to cross the road like it is a dead or life bet every time. People staring at you because you like to walk even if it is hot and there are 10 motorbike taxis ready to drive you for a pittance.

Forgetting bread, wine, and knifes, replacing them with rice, fresh fruit juice, beer and spoons and not missing them. Being amazed, again and again, at the never ending variety of Thai dishes you find and fall in love with, at how delicious they are, how colorful, how delicate and how complex in their beauty.

Surprised, at the end, by how well you feel in a place that feels so remote and so different from anything you have ever known.

Grateful for getting the chance to experience all this and for having had the courage to go for it


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