Made in Thailand

If I was a typical backpacker and got a tattoo every time I had a few beers, I’d get one that said “Made in Thailand” on the bottom of my foot. For all of our sakes, thank goodness I’m not one of those typical BP-ers and I won’t be getting this ridiculously silly and tacky phrases etched forever on my foot.
But, I always thought it would be neat to have a tattoo that meant something profound. People constantly pointing to it and asking you the meaning/story—a reminder of some important part of your life (or at least let’s hope it was). So, it’s kind of like a sacrament—the tattoo is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace —pretty good PK interpretation if you ask me! If you aren’t lucky enough to have a priest as a father like me and/or attended Happening, that may sound like strange definition of a Sacrament, but I promise my priest-y father and uncle can recite this definition at the drop of a hat (as proof at Hannah’s wedding & therefore making it an accurate/correct definition!…)
But anyway, riding back to Bangkok on my 12 hour day bus from Koh Tao I thought of this silly phrase. My biggest thing about leaving early is I don’t want to fall into a pattern of luxury so quickly at home. Spending 6 weeks living out of a backpack, made me realize I have way too much stuff. Now let’s be real. This doesn’t mean I’m going to go home and throw out all my high heels. (take a moment now to realize I haven’t worn heels since church on October 12th 2012—7 whole months!) I’m not really sure what it means actually. I guess while I walk around in one of my twenty pairs of high heels I want to be reminded that people in Cambodia live with out AC and fresh water? I don’t think that’s what I want at all? I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it means..
But, to me the phrase made me laugh out loud. It’s the first time I’ve actually thought of something with a dual meaning that would remind me of my time here. Let me explain. When I told my co-worked and friends and family I was moving to Thailand, more often than not the response was “Isn’t that where everything is made?” And I would smile and say “No, that’s Taiwan.” Which isn’t all together true, lots of things are made here too! But it still made me laugh and I knew that’s what they meant.
Now for the second meaning— the deep proud backpacker one ha! I can’t say I’ve changed into this whole new person in Thailand, because I haven’t. I think I’m relatively the same. But, I do think I have learned a lot and most of it I’ve learned has been these past few weeks I’ve been traveling. Actually, I think I learned the most most most this last week and half I traveled alone. It was really hard at first and I was so scared to travel all by myself, but I’m so glad I did. I am so proud of myself too!
Traveling alone is easy and hard at the same time. In Thailand, backpackers are a dime a dozen. They are everywhere—but it doesn’t mean that it super easy to meet a lot of people. The first few days I arrived in Koh Tao, I felt really lonely. Only one other girl was staying in my dorm and she didn’t seem to be around! I took a deep breathe and was determined not to get upset or feel lonely! After all I was sure I would meet tons of people in my scuba dive class.
Well call me lucky or not, just so happens the day I signed up for my Open Water Certification at Siam Scuba happened to be the day no one else did. So, once again very lonely, I started watching all the information videos. UGH it sucked—so boring and so outdated! But, I made it through watching the videos and met my instructor!
Call me lucky/unlucky again—I really can’t say, but let’s be honest I was hoping for a cute Australian Scuba Instructor. Instead I was matched up with a beautiful French girl who wasn’t very bubbly/friendly seeming initially.
The dives started and day one was MISERABLE! I tell my mother everything, but I couldn’t even bring myself to tell her just how miserable it was. I thought it’d be fine with underwater breathing and I love sporty/athletic things/water!—I was certain I’d love scuba diving! Well after Day 1, I made myself follow the phrase “fake it, til you make it” and I was determined to make it through.
I can’t even say how glad I am that I pushed myself to keep going. The things that were hard on Day 1, suddenly didn’t seem hard anymore on day too. My heart didn’t race and I mastered every skill she asked me to do with absolute ease and suddenly it started being fun!
My favorite day of diving was my last day. We left really early in the morning—6am. What I didn’t realize before going to Koh Tao is that is quite the party island. I went to get water before our dive at 7-11 and it was the funniest mix of people. Half drunk stupid people and half serious divers. The girl in front of me in line was juggling 4 bottles of Chang beer and 2 cans of Pringles. I kept a close eye on her and thankfully took a step back as her grip slipped and she dropped two of the bottles on the ground. The poor diver in line in front of girl ended up with a bleeding foot minutes before heading out of a dive. Thankfully I slipped out of the store and we headed out to sea before I had anymore drunken encounters.
On most days we shared the boat with other divers and instructors that were doing either fun dives or advanced certifications. This day however, no one else was on the boat, but my instructor, the caption and me. At our first dive site we went to 18 meters. (meters means nothing to me still…the first few days when I was told I would dive to 18 meters, I thought she said I would be diving to 80 meters because of her accent—goes to show just how map/distance savvy I am..) This was the coolest dive, not a single other diver was around and we went to site where there are large schools of baby barracuda fish. There were million—I followed her lead and we started to breath very slowly and establish neutral buoyancy (smart words from my course!) and suddenly they cleared out of the middle made a ring around us. They kept circling and swimming faster and faster. It was amazing… I think I have mermaid blood after all…Day 1 I was really thinking I might be full-blood pirate!
The dive ended around 10am and I was done! I couldn’t believe it. It was four days of really hard work! And don’t worry, I ended up meeting amazing people too. Sometimes you just have to push through really crappy and lonely times when traveling to end up on the other side. My friends in Koh Tao had nothing in common with each other except for our shared love of scuba diving and we all somehow have been changed/made into something new after our time spent in Thailand. Maybe we should have all had a few beers the last night and all had our feet etched with “Made in Thailand.”

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