Oh, Thailand… How you change me!

Experiences gathered through living, working and travelling in and through different parts of the world are bound to leave a lasting impact on anyone. As for me, I don’t think any experience has left me unchanged. Working and travelling in Southern and East Africa has surely increased my patience by 500%! There is no point in being impatient when everything is going at its own pace – there is no way you can control it, so you just better sit back, relax and enjoy the surroundings. My living in London combined with my travels to India and China have turned me a strict vegetarian – but not yet a vegan, that will take another chapter (but that’s surely not Thailand)!

So, before I even boarded the plane to Bangkok, I knew this experience – no matter how long it would last – would leave a serious impact on me. First of all, working in Asia for the first time while I have always been more Africa-focused would be quite a change, although I anticipated a smooth intro due to my Asian heritage. It turned out to be a nice and easy transition. I love big cities and I find Bangkok a eclectic mix between East and West (maybe a little bit like me). Then, I knew for sure that my image of men in general would drop by 1000%. I don’t mean friends (I have a whole bunch of guy friends that I love) and neither guys in professional relationships (I tend to work well, or say better, with men – although now I have a really great female supervisor and it’s going really well) – but when it comes to love and relationships, I tend to mistrust (most of) them. It’s not fair, I know. But I knew that coming to Bangkok would only make this worse. Of course, Thailand and especially Bangkok is infamous for its influx of sex tourists and retired old men with young gorgeous women on each side. Little did I know that six months later, I would be working at ECPAT International, and dealing with cases of nasty men (and sometimes women) exploiting children for sexual purposes, on a daily basis. Third and finally, I was sure that this chapter would mean a lot of positivity to me – gaining practical experiences in the field I want to work in and doing what I love. For the most part, this has been true (except for some setbacks at the organisation I worked with prior to ECPAT). Some things, however, I did not anticipate and I realise Thailand has changed me a lot already – and will probably continue to do so!

On my day of arrival in Bangkok in January 2011, I found my first grey hair (at age 26!) – and I have found five more since! At least worrying over the right issues is surely worth it!

Until I got here, I never had a manicure/pedicure before and I used to hate nail polish (and still do, a little). Now I am going on a regular basis… Same applies to massages done by strangers!

I used to wear jeans and casual tops on a daily basis. Now I wear girly clothing like dresses and skirts and I even bought my first pink top! I also bought flouffy (fluffy and pouffy) tops to wear to work!

I used to avoid eating rice as much as possible. Having been fed rice everyday while growing up made me dislike it. Now, I’m eating it again.

I used to be able to hold my cocktails, or at least one or two, before I got tipsy. In Thailand, I turn out to be allergic and faint…

I used to think 25 degrees Celsius was the perfect temperature. Now, I get chills and goosebumps at anything lower than 27 degrees Celsius!

I used to think getting a tan was a good thing! And I still do, actually. However, since Thai society seems to think the more tan you are, the lower class you are, I should be careful. I walk to work and I am a little worried that if I become too tan, drivers may think I am very low class and be a lot less careful in driving, if you know what I mean! But maybe that’s just my vivid imagination.

I used to bike and walk a lot in the Netherlands and the UK. Here, I joined a gym for the first time in my life! Biking and running while it’s 30 something degrees Celsius out is not so pleasant. I like hot temperatures, but I don’t like working out in them…

€45/US$65 used to be a pretty good price for a pair of shoes. Now, I think the equivalent ฿2000 is quite a lot of money of a pair of shoes!

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