I wasn’t sure what to write for today’s post. In fact, unusually for me, I’m writing this on the day it’s going to go out. When I started thinking about why that might be, it gave me a topic to riff on.
It’s been a strange time in Thailand recently. Despite my lifestyle, not knowing what’s going on, or what’s going to happen, isn’t my favourite state of being.
But because of changes here, and a variety of work projects, as well as many personal projects which are at critical points, I have a lot going on – none of which I’m certain will actually happen.
Let me explain…
Visa changes – remembering travel is a privilege
As you may know, Thailand is in the middle of a military coup. It’s on wiki if you want a run down, I’m not going to talk about it here (you’ll see why if you read the wiki, especially the ‘Anti-coup symbols’ section), or accept comments on it, but I’m happy to talk about it privately.
We have limited information as ex-pats on what’s going on, and at the moment, most daily life, certainly on the Thai island I live on, seems unaffected. There are fewer tourists right now, and if you’re not sure whether or not to visit as a tourist, I would encourage you to come, as at the moment, all is fine safety-wise, but the small restaurants and other places geared to tourists are really suffering because of this drop in visitors. It’s tough to see these smaller places, with their warm Thai hosts, who aren’t necessarily so connected to politics (they see it as ‘happening in Bangkok’), not able to understand where the tourists are gone, and potentially losing their livelihoods because of the situation.
One of the consequences that does affect me, and all the longer-term travellers here is the tightening of border controls. I’m going to admit, I wrote several paragraphs on this, and I’ve deleted them, as even I was bored reading them. The nub is, there’s a lot of confusion, and issues around long-term travellers who come in and out of Thailand frequently (if you’re looking for more information, the best source is Thai Visa).
The consequence is that each time I leave Thailand, I’m not sure I’ll get back in. I went out to Singapore for some work last week, and coming back to the country was quite stressful – even the airline I travelled on weren’t convinced I’d get back in, asking me lots of questions and making me sign a form which said I was liable for my own costs coming back in if I was rejected by immigration. I did make it back, but I had to pack up my entire house and take everything I own with me just in case I didn’t.
I have more work trips planned, and so there’s more uncertainty in the future.
Even if I do get back in next time, what happens then? Living with this level of uncertainty isn’t something I want to do long term, and a number of friends have already left or are making plans to leave the region.
So I’m also looking at new places to live, like Malaysia, Bali, and South America (where quite a few friends have headed). These kinds of decisions feel huge, even though I know if I don’t like it I can just leave and move somewhere else, but it means there’s a lot going on in my already rather full head at the moment.
I keep remembering that travel is a privilege, in so many ways. That I’m a guest in other countries, and that Britain almost certainly wouldn’t be as relaxed about letting members of other countries in in the same way I spend time here. This helps me put the whole thing in perspective.
Juggling the balls
A friend and I were talking about it recently, and I said I thought it was like juggling, but that all you needed to do was give each ball a nudge each time, rather than trying to keep them all high in the air. That’s how I feel.
I’ve worked on seven different consulting projects, and visited China, Singapore and Malaysia as well as Thailand in the last few weeks, so consulting work is also keeping me busy.
At the same time, I’m working on a revamped website (which you are all going to love – promise!), which much love, sweat and tears is going into. This is hugely exciting, so look out for more news on this late August.
Feelings and Emotions
One of my key development areas (or, ‘weaknesses’ in normal people language 😉 ) in my early work life was around dealing with ambiguity and change. I always want to pin everything down, structure it, clarify and make decisions.
That’s what makes me a good project manager, but it can mean that situations like the one in which I’m living take a bit of a personal toll.
I’ve certainly developed this – I don’t think I would be able to live the life I do now if I didn’t have a much stronger tolerance for it all. Do I love it? No, not really. I do like the possibilities that change brings, like: Will I spend time in Bali? Will I go to Malaysia, and work more in Singapore, which is just over the border? Who will I meet in these new places? What will I learn?
But I’d rather have a definite plan – especially to know there was a house for me, that seems to be one of the things I like least, staying in hostels and not having a ‘safe place’ to burrow into. As I’ve said before, travel definitely helps you learn about your own needs, desires, wants and values, which is very helpful for guiding future plans.
In other news
I had a lovely visit with two good friends who were taking a week’s holiday on the neighbouring island of Samui. I came over for the day and hung out with them at their beautiful villa and pool, and we sat on the beach and caught up. It wasn’t the same as coffee in Surbiton, but it did the trick 😉
Ending on a positive
Things making me happy at the moment? It’s all in the detail.
- Sweet and nut-filled carrot cake with cappuccino, reading my book in the cafe where I feel most at home
- Being on my balcony in storms and wild winds, protected but exposed
- Progressing with the yoga despite fear and despite obstacles
- Emails from friends and family, with news and love
- Sunday veggie roast with friends – the first yorkshire pudding I’ve had in a long time!
How do you feel about change, ambiguity and uncertainty?
Do you enjoy the feeling of endless possibilities, or want to pin down decisions and structure plans?
Let me know in the comments below!