Farewell to a Friend

December 30, 2002

Dear Thailand,

I must begin by saying that writing this goodbye letter to you makes me sad. It seems like only yesterday that I decided to come live with you, but in fact it was almost four years ago. Time flies. Getting to know you was not easy but I have come to consider you a close friend. This friendship took a lot of hard work and understanding from both of us and I thank you for your patience and tolerance of me over these years.

Although we have had our ups and downs and there were some days when I didn’t even want to talk to you at all (you probably didn’t want to talk to me, either!), the truth is that I will miss you terribly. Your people possess a grace and kindness I’ve never known before and don’t expect to find elsewhere. I’ll miss your stunning countryside and the beautiful melodies that can sometimes be heard floating through your air. I’ll pine for your sleepy villages, overloaded pickup trucks and mysterious temples. I’ll crave for a shopping adventure at one of your grocery stores and a ride with one of your motorcycle taxi drivers. I’ll miss your prices too, I bet. But I know what I’ll miss most of all and that is your sense of humour. I’ve got to hand it to you Thailand, no friend has ever made me laugh more than you have.

To brighten myself up I have to remember the things I won’t miss about you, like your diesel fumes and the number of times I have ended up with the ‘Bangkok Belly.’ Your mosquitoes are crafty little pests, the guys who blow whistles in your parking lots give me a headache and sometimes you get so hot I feel like I am going to explode.

Looking out my window I have felt many different things: utterly confused, ecstatically happy, massively homesick, ridiculously lonely, serene and calm, exhausted or at peace with both you and myself. I can’t even begin to imagine what you must have thought looking back at me!

You must be wondering where I am going and why. You certainly should not take it personally! After giving it much thought, I have decided to attend graduate school in Australia. I am a bit nervous about this new adventure. It will be a culture shock all over again. Perhaps I’ll find myself accidentally flagging down red pickup trucks as they pass because I think they are ‘song-taews’ or getting offended when people point their feet at me. But hopefully I can make friends with Australia, too. Time will tell. I have no idea what to expect once I land there but I didn’t know what to expect from you either.

Don’t worry. I won’t forget you. How could I? I have more photos of you than anyone or anything else. Plus all of my ‘Kat’s Window’ columns to reread from time to time, not to mention all of the friends I have that are staying here with you. If you think back to my very first column (Life Begins on Planet Bangkok, July 03, 2000) I ended the article by saying, “Especially in the beginning, living in Thailand is a feeling of being out of step, out of time, like a zit-faced teenager tramping on your partner’s feet. But at least your partner is smiling, because your dance partner is Thailand. Don’t worry. Time will reveal there is no better partner to dance with.” That opinion is truer now than ever and I can only hope that over the years I have become a better dance partner for you.

You have taught me more than you will ever know. I am leaving you with a drastically cooler and calmer heart, a much more open mind, and with a sense of accomplishment. It is because of you, Thailand, that I have received so many emails from readers around the world wishing me well. I appreciate this more than I can express. It seems the journey of our friendship made for some good tales and entertained many people along the way.

Yes, my window is closing but there will be a new one for me to open waiting downunder but you will keep your special place in my heart. Don’t take this as a goodbye, just as a farewell for now. I’ll be back. In fact, I doubt if I could keep myself away.

I will certainly miss you and I thank you for the years that we have spent together.

Your friend, Kat

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