Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Thailand Post

Isn’t it funny how you can sit down to write, knowing what you’re going to write about, and yet once you start your fingers and brain go off on a completely different tangent? That happened to me yesterday. So today I am attempting again to write the posting that I planned to write yesterday. Does that make any sense?

So here we all are at the beach. We’re somewhere called Bansaphan, Prachuapkhirikhan, which probably isn’t much use to you; it’s on the Gulf of Thailand, an area not affected by the Tsunami of 2004. The sea has waves, which makes a change from the other places we’ve been beachside in Thailand. Sometimes the sea is so still that I long for the drama of the English Sea (I used to live in Dorset). I feel guilty saying that though, because the Thais have experienced the drama of the power of the sea and it was devastating.

Thailand has suffered both with the Tsunami and with the resultant knock to its tourism industry. As a mainly Buddhist country, many Thais believe in ghosts and they will not go to the areas that they believe are inhabited by spirits. Thai tourism needs visitors to go back to those areas: this, and a good price is why we went to Khao Lak the first time.

We’ve been to Khao Lak, north of Phuket, twice. It was ravaged by the Tsunami. I was afraid: it was so peaceful there, hardly a wave on the surface of the bluest sea I’d ever seen, and yet always I would have in my head the violence that had taken place just 18 months earlier. Sometimes I would sit and scan the horizon, looking for approaching waves. Silly I know, but I was scared.

My children had a go at scuba diving in the hotel pool with a gorgeous Swedish girl. She had a tattoo on her shoulders in Thai, and one of the children asked what it meant: she said “it says: ‘live every day as if it’s your last.’” It’s hard to be judgmental about a pedestrian statement when you think about what people have experienced.

My fingers have written something else of their own accord again. I didn’t plan to write this… I wonder why it happened.

Will I ever be able to write the other one?


Caroline said...

This is a beautiful post. You sent tingles over me. You are seeing sights that some of us can only imagine from reported images. Your eyes are open and absorbing.


Helen said...

I have started to reply to your post many times this morning and I'm finding it difficult to find the words. So I am going to write it quickly all in one rush. We were affected, tragically, by the tsunami. I wasn't there but my husband's brother was. He was on Phi Phi island and risked his own life to save others. He died shortly after returning to England.

The Swedish girl with the tattoo is absolutely right. My bother in law's death has been one of the reasons why I have decided to give this writing malarky a serious go. He lived his life to the full -following his dream - a good lesson to us all.

JJ said...

Thank you Caroline.

It's sometimes a worry that we've upped sticks and moved overseas, but you're right that we are seeing sights that I never thought I'd see, and we try to make the most of that while we can.

It's sometimes difficult to know how much Thailand-ness to give my blog: it'll turn some people off, and I don't want it to be 'an expat experience of Thailand' as it's done so often. I want it to be about my struggle to write, and a place to be me.

I know I'm living in Thailand but that's only a part of who I am!


JJ said...

Oh god Helen, I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing that though; I'm really touched. I hope that it didn't upset you reading about it again.

People were so courageous; the stories were so horrifying. We moved here 6 months after it happened; it killed several families at my children's school.

You are so completely right to make it give you the courage to start writing (I know we both feel similar about our confidence).

When we told people we were moving here, they said 'oh, I wouldn't go there: they have Tsunamis,' and it did frighten me, but you can be paralysed all your life by fear. It's dangerous and it stops you living.

I cannot tell you how many things frightened me about moving here, but life is short (to quote another cliche) and it didn't start and finish in the little village I lived in in Bucks.

I gathered up all my courage to come here, and that is what we have to do for our writing too.

Thanks again for sharing.

JJ xx

Helen said...

Thanks for your kind words JJ.

It didn't upset me at all reading about your holiday and the beaches and everything. I suppose I am looking for evidence that life is getting back to normal for them over there. I think it is great that you and your family are on the beach, playing and sunbathing. The things you are supposed to do on the beach.

I can understand you being scared. I get scared at the thought of travelling into London on the underground. But once I am there doing it, my fears banish. The fears are in my head and the reality is nothing like we envisage in our darkest moments.

Hmm. I shall take that thought and apply it to my writing!

PS I think you get the mix of Thailand-ness in your blog spot on. Not too much, but enough to know how living over there - away from home - does affect your life and subsequently your writing.

JJ said...

Good, glad it wasn't too upsetting. One of the things that I am involved in here is the British Women's Group, which friends tease me about saying it's the Bangkok version of the WI! You can look at some of the work that they do at: There's a lot of work done here by groups like us, but there are so many needy groups, too.

People are beginning to go back to the areas that were affected, but it may take some time for the Thais to go back. There aren't many signs of devastation still, but I guess it's the inner scars that need time to heal.

hesitant scribe said...

JJ, You are living, and living is scary. It is dangerous everywhere, and we all need a little luck to get us through. But it is also very beautiful and inspiring. There are beautiful people out there, and much to live for despite the horrendous tragedies we, as human beings, must endure. Lovely post. Lovely comments.

Now switch that bloody lap-top off and have a break... we'll all be here when you get back! :)

JJ said...

Hi Lisa

Today's posting is for you. In answer to your command!

I've been ribbed the entire time I've been here. I just can't seem to leave it alone.

You're right. Life is scary, but we do have to realise that having the courage to take risks is what makes it rewarding.