“Decisions, Decisions”: A True Love Travelogue Series – Part 1

24 November 2012

I woke up a few minutes after 5 o’clock in the morning, as usual; save that there was nothing usual at all about that day. It was the day that would change my life forever.

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I felt really tired, and my back muscles ached from staying up late the previous night. I got up from my bed feeling dreamy, as if what transpired the night before was indeed just a dream.

It was his call over Skype that had awoken me, and while I knew he was telling me something important, I found it difficult to shake my sleepiness off. Less than five minutes into the video-call, my eyes had begun to droop again and his words were only a mumble-jumble to me.

“So I cut my hair”, I very faintly heard him say.

“You what??” I jolted.

“I asked my mom to cut my hair, see?”

“Why?!”, I exclaimed in panic.

“Because you wanted me to.”

“No!!!!”

“Cecille”, I could hear desperation in his voice. “I thought you said I will attract unwanted attention over there and you don’t want that”.

Now I do remember telling him that. “I don’t know…I don’t know…I liked your long hair. I’m not used to seeing you like that!”…I seemed almost a child, unreasonable. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted anymore. Confused, tears started rolling down my cheeks.

“Oh, Cecille, please don’t cry.” He was almost pleading. “I have to go now, okay? My parents are taking me to the airport. It will grow back soon, anyway”.

It felt really weird for him to be consoling me then. He was the one who had one foot of his hair cut off and yet he was the one who was trying to make me feel better. I know he was kind of “attached” to his hair. He’s had it long since he was 11 years old. Looking back to it now, I thought it was frivolous for me to even mention the haircut. Of course, I tell him I never forced him, I was  just…sayin’.

When we first started talking online, I didn’t really care about his hair. I thought it was hot and I was attracted to that mysterious side of him. As the day to our meeting drew closer, I became concerned. I think it must have been my conservative influence. Men with long hair are sometimes stereotyped as bad boys: wild and probably addicted to dangerous drugs! How ignorant does that sound?

Not all long-haired men are like that of course, but it was all about the image of it. I knew my family was going to meet him and I just wanted him to make a good first impression. I was like, “Who knows? We could end up getting married!” 😉 Little did I know, he was going to impress them anyway with his charms, his very polite demeanor and, as my father said, his outstanding table manners. But more on that later.

After sleeping a while longer, I got up to check my messages. I wondered if he’d left me anything before he boarded the plane. Boy, did he!

airchinanotification

“Great! That’s all we need”, I muttered.  A glitch right in the beginning of the two-week itinerary that we’ve been planning for months is a downer, I thought. My nerves were already wracked at the thought of seeing him, finally in the flesh, after four months of relentless correspondence. I was on the cusp of being stressed.

I waited until 8am for business hours to begin so I that I could speak with the hotel personnel regarding his reservation. He was supposed to arrive at 11 o’clock that night so I called the hotel to let them know that he would be arriving the next day instead. The unexpected detour in Alaska was going to delay his flight for 3 hours. This also meant that he was going to miss his Beijing to Bangkok flight, the last flight for the day. He was going to sleep in a hotel in China, alone, and catch another flight to Thailand on the following day. I could imagine how anxious he must be, travelling halfway across the globe for the first time, to places where he doesn’t speak the language, while encountering these mishaps at the same time. The horror!

I smile at the thought of him making that gesture to see me. I’ve got to admire him for being so determined. I was actually sad that I had to cancel the chauffeur service I had previously booked  to pick him up. I wanted him to at least be comfortable when he arrived, after all the stress of intercontinental flight. I asked the lady if they could move the booking for the following day but she said they were fully-booked. Oh well! I tried.

I decided to let the stress of the rescheduled arrival go. There was really nothing we could have done about it. I thought: it’s only one night. I was going to see him tomorrow. At 1pm, I went about with my other scheduled appointments: Last minute girly preps that, without getting into much detail, included a nail spa. I would later reap the fruits of my tortured labor when he says the very first words that came out of his mouth upon seeing me. 😉

It took me several hours to finish and when I was finally settled in the couch, checked my messages again. Lo and behold! He was online and was typing to me, possibly as fast as he could!

“I’m in China. We did not stop in Anchorage”

“What?!?”

“Will you be able to pick me up?”

“Uhhh…I changed my plans for the day. I’m here at my mother’s place”. Yeah, I forgot to mention that!

“……….” Nothing from him. It said he was typing.

“Oh!” He finally replied. Goodness! What was I doing?!? I must be freaking him out!

“Of course, I’ll pick you up!” I typed in haste. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to do it in my condition.

“Okay. Boarding now. I’ll turn this off”, he said.

I sent a quick goodbye then his little green circle was gone. I exhaled in desperation.

Now what? Decisions, decisions.

I jumped up from the couch, picked up my backpack from the floor, and began packing haphazardly.

“Where are you going?”, my mom wondered.

Silence. You can almost hear the wheels turning.

“I have to go, Mom”, almost a whisper.

“Go where?”

“Back to my place”,

“But your foot!” Right! I forgot to mention that too. I had stepped on something earlier. I needed minor surgical intervention and my two feet were bandaged. Did I mention it was painful?  I’d been downing pain killers the whole day.

“I’m okay Mom, I’ll be fine”. She was observing me as I was cross-checking my stuff with my list in  hand.

“I thought you’re staying here tonight.” I didn’t respond.

“Just tell me what is it, okay? So I’d know.”, she prodded…I was worrying her.

“It’s Ian.  He’s arriving tonight.”

What ensued was an exchange between a worried mother and a stubborn daughter who will do what she wants, even against advice.

“Will you at least let your brother take you to the airport?”

……

……

……

For all of my life, my family and friends were always there to support me. I’ve always had people to consult with for all of the major decisions I’ve made. But as I said, it was not an ordinary day.

“No. I’m doing this on my own”.

I’d made up my mind.

TO BE CONCLUDED

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CURB or CURVE: That is the Question

So today at lunch a co-worker from the table across asked me if I’m pregnant. “Cos you know, you gained weight”, she said.

“No they didn’t!” was my fiancé Ian’s reply when I called him later (I skipped the courtesies and immediately launched into “They asked me if I’m pregnant” in my best Oppressed Cecille voice).

“Baby, are you crying?”, he asked when I didn’t answer.

“No” is what I should have said…Instead, I said “Yes”, lobbying for sympathy. (Well, I was feeling bad, okay?)

“Don’t mind them, Baby. They’re just jealous of you because you’re beautiful and sexy”. (Oh yeah, my fiancé is awesome, isn’t he?)

See, when you have somebody telling you that, you don’t really care if you gain a few pounds. This isn’t the first time the girls at work have said something about my weight, but I never really minded them. I know that I’m healthy and I’m secure about my future husband’s attraction to me no matter what.

Today, I’ve decided that I’m sick of co-workers picking on my weight every chance they get when I don’t even give a damn. Jesus Christ, I’m 49.5 kg at 5 feet 3 inches. Is that so bad?

To be honest, it’s indeed a jump from the 45.5 kg I weighed at the same time last year. But it doesn’t really bother me much. Well, until last month when I couldn’t stop saying: “I’m fat”. I seriously thought that I was beginning to have body-image issues. I took a beating when my co-workers’, with their prying eyes, started to notice my weight gain. And boy, did they remind me every day!

I once took the lift carrying take-out dinner. This girl I ride the shuttle with every day came in and commented that it’s already 7pm and that I should have eaten dinner before 6pm! It doesn’t end there: I have girls knocking on my door asking me if I want to go to the gym. When I’ve wanted to buy a chocolate croissant for dessert, I’ve had to sneak out to the bakeshop, making sure my colleagues didn’t see me, or risk being told “Ceciw, you eating again?!? Khun Ian see you, he say: What happened to you? Now you are uaan (Thai: fat)!” 

 Sigh! It’s exactly these kinds of “criticisms” that have been souring my mood. I’ve always been happy and confident with my body.  Like I said, I don’t give a damn. But I guess that’s why: They want me to give a damn!  Like really, telling me I should stop eating rice every day or else my fiancé would leave me for a skinnier woman?!?

As annoyed as I am, I really don’t blame them for the kind of mentality they have. It’s all the media bullshit they see in TV commercials, bus and train ads, posters, etc.

Have you seen Beyonce’s Cavalli  ad?

In the poster, we see an extremely stylized image of the songstress to the point that her famous curves completely disappeared! Instead, we see  B’s head on top of an exaggeratedly skinny CGI body with spider-like extremities that makes her look more abnormal than a Barbie doll.

Here’s the Skinny: Roberto Cavalli is the official designer for Beyonce’s Mrs. Carter Show. The poster is supposedly for the tour’s campaign.

Famous fashion designer Roberto Cavalli was, of course, widely criticized for the release. The photo was immediately removed from circulation after the slamming from fans, nutritionists, health advocates, feminists, etcetera.  Cavalli’s camp had explained – and I quote: “the image of the gown (sic.) is a sketch and not a photo, and therefore it is only meant to be a stylized and artistic vision”.

I get you, Roberto, but you know that the damage is done.

Beyonce, of course, was reportedly upset about the whole fiasco just as she was when H & M airbrushed her swim-suit photos (to make her look thinner) and insisted the original/unedited versions be used for the official summer campaign. She is currently suing them for millions of dollars.

Speaking of H & M, this was a really ironic move considering that their April 2013 campaign featuring Size 14 Jennie Runk earned them positive raves and accolades.

24-year old Ms. Runk here is billed as the heroine of self-loathing women, especially teenage girls who suffer starvation, amongst other scary means of losing weight. She is said to be helping women feel better about themselves because she heralds real beauty and that she has “the body of a normal woman”. Ha!

While I admire Ms. Runk’s beauty and support her message, I couldn’t help but see this as a dubious stunt—big corporations preying on vulnerable women’s craving for approval from the mass media. Even Ms. Runk can be just a pawn in this giant scheme. I hope not.

But whatever, if it works for the deflation of the over-all insecurity of the female population and teen suicide rates, then it’s fine with me. Besides, whatever the billboard ads say is “trendy”, then that’s what is “trendy”.  Ugh!

Obviously, trend varies depending on the market these companies cater to. The disparity between the message of Jennie and Beyonce’s H & M ads says it clearly: There’s the normal market and the other markets. Jennie Runk isn’t’ exactly labeled as just a “model” but a “plus size model”. Ask any beauty or fashion magazine and they will tell you that the normal sized- women are supposed to look like this:

Scary!

As an advocate for women and a healthy lifestyle enthusiast, this issue has always been close to my heart. I have always found the popular standards of beauty to be ridiculous and unrealistic for most people.  To condone this is outrageous and it sickens me to think how many women have suffered (and are suffering still) both emotionally and physically just to fit into the accepted “beautiful” and/or “sexy” category mostly perpetuated by selfish companies with vested financial interests.

 But, why this sudden lashing? Well, because, I too have become a victim of this vulgar commercialism and I can’t just stand there and take it.

I live in Thailand- where girls eat garden salad for breakfast and have dinner before 6 o’clock in the evening, where women go out of their houses as if they forgot to put their pants on, flaunting their chicken-skinny legs! Here in Bangkok, a popular cosmetic hotspot, co-workers eye you with disdain every time you put food into your mouth.

I am not arguing that women should just eat with abandon and not care about their bodies at all. I say we should all take measures to ensure our bodies are healthy and that includes eating in moderation and proper exercise. Certainly not by skipping meals, or even worse, fad dieting.  More importantly, on a bigger scale, the bashing has got to stop!

It’s not as if this is a life and death situation where one has to curb her diet or run the risk of gaining, whoa! unwanted curves! Yeah, because that’s really the worst thing a woman could have!

This obsession with these (and I say this with a bitter taste in my mouth) “standards of beauty”, of an ideal sexiness is pushing women to go to absurd lengths- pressuring them to achieve a figure that may not be healthy for them. By the way, these ideals are not only promoting malnutrition, they are also cultivating a culture of mean-spiritedness and superiority complexes in those who fit the criteria, and low self-esteem in those who aren’t welcome into the category.

I do know that some women are just naturally skinny and they don’t gain weight no matter how much they eat. I don’t have anything against them. I do think they can be indeed sexy too, but not just because of their vital statistics. There are a million things that can make a woman sexy: wit, wisdom, kindness, sense of humor, skill, perhaps? If I were a man, these would certainly attract me.

It’s very sad that nowadays, the art of husband-hunting has almost regressed to merely an aesthetic tourney.  They used to laugh about women in the time of Jane Austen or the 1950s that had to be educated in art, literature, music, geography, science, language, home economics and the like to make a good match, when eventually they will be consigned to the home to attend to their men’s needs and look after the children. Well, at least they had to use their brains; these days, women only have to look good, wear a perfect smile, be a size 0-2 and they can land senators, business tycoons, heirs to fortunes, etc.

Lastly, these days women don’t really seem to try to look good just for the hell of it. When you hear people say “Oh you should do this and that so you can get a boyfriend” or “Oh you should be like this or else your husband will look somewhere else”, it makes you think, is it really all about attracting men?

I love it when my fiancé compliments me and this encourages me to try to look good. But also, I just want to look good for myself…just because it makes me feel good. Do you know what I’m talking about? I mean, these decisions about our bodies are ours to make and should not be influenced by peer or social pressure.  It should also be about us!

Sweating it out, running around the park, and working my butt off in the fitness center? Yes, I do it because I want to. I know I have a responsibility to take care of my body. I do it and I will keep doing it – not because some damn commercial is telling me too or that I am afraid of Ian Weinstein abandoning me if I bloat.

CURB or CURVE? No! I am not letting anyone or anything decide for me whether I am “sexy” or not.

I believe that in every woman is an innate seductress, a charming maiden, an irresistible nymph, a goddess… no matter what her shape and size. We only have to claim that inner vixen…and tell her she shouldn’t be intimidated by whatever people around her say. Let her out, because she should be freakin’ running the world. Size 2 or not.

Prathet Thai Antarai (Dangerous Thailand): Accident Files in the Land of Smiles

Every morning, my company shuttles me and other employees between our dorm and the hospital in which we work. Today, the driver was burning up the road like crazy, as usual. So I fastened my seatbelt and upon the “click” sound, all eyes turned to me. It seemed they all found it weird that I didn’t want to die yet.

So I sent the fiancé a message: “They all chuckled when I wore my seatbelt”.

To that he replied: “Oh f*** them! If the van crashes you can laugh as you walk away and step over their corpses.”

Me: “Yes, in sky-high heels!”

Him: “That’s my girl!”

Don’t get us wrong. We are not really mean people and we don’t really wish any harm to anyone. Quite the contrary, we are both frustrated by the lack of precaution some people have…..

I’ll give you the gory facts straight up.

Up to 26,000 people are killed in road accidents every year in Thailand, which puts the country in the 6th rank worldwide in terms of road casualties.

Between October 2011 and September 2012, the total number of reported accidents in Thailand was a whopping…wait for it…54,384!!! (1)

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LIKE CRUMPLED PAPER.A distorted piece of metal that was once a commuter van

Between October 27th 2012 and January 2nd, 2013, in celebration of the New Year holiday, a total of 3,329 people were injured in 3,176 road accidents reported throughout the country. Meanwhile, 365 people were killed. I don’t know about you but this really creeps me out. That’s 365 bodies for 365 days of the year. What a morbid and unlucky way to start the year!

I am not very superstitious but I know death tolls as high as this can’t be good. While some say accidents are premonitions of things to come, to me, it’s rather the result of an action previously taken (or not taken). If I were to be so bold, I’d say it’s a reflection of the people’s attitudes towards personal safety and welfare.  On a macro level, it teaches us a lot about Thai society’s disregard for responsible road practices and also, how they value life.

Maybe it’s the “Mai bpen rai” attitude that the Thais embody so well…

The site “Things Asian: Experience Asia Through the Eyes of the Travelers” provides us with a clearer understanding on the matter:

mai bpen rai, mai mee bpunhaa

The first phrase roughly translates to “it doesn’t matter”, the second to “no problem.” Together, they typify the Thai approach to life: don’t get bogged down by small obstacles, don’t worry, take it easy. Much to the dismay of Westerners, Thais employ these phrases even in situations that are dangerous, even life-threatening. (Westerner: “The house is on fire!” Thai: “No problem.”) If a Westerner protests, he is swiftly reprimanded with “jai yen” (calm ).

I admit, I had a little bit of this careless attitude when Ian and I were planning our trips all over Thailand. We both agreed that we want to travel and see the sights outside of the Bangkok metropolis. Our incessant dilemma though was: How to get there? Warnings about the Thai public transportation did not escape our ears.

I was born and raised in the Philippines and I have ridden practically all of the means of transportation there is, horse and water buffalo (carabao) included.  So I wasn’t really scared.  But Ian had never been to Asia before and I was worried about him. If there’s one thing I like about America, it is their strict adherence to road safety.  That is what he is used to.

During our first trip to Koh Samed, I didn’t have a problem with taking a mini-van back to Bangkok. My idea was: hell, mini-vans cut the travel time by an hour. We’ll get to our destination faster than a bullet.

And fast it was. I didn’t realize how much of a terrifying experience it was for Ian because I was asleep and drooling on his shoulders by the time our half-crazy driver was playing “Catch Me If You Can” with his fellow motorists. Expressway Edition.

Halfway to Bangkok, I woke up to the sound of my fiance, calling on to Jesus like an old Catholic lady. My baby was sweating like a sun-burnt laborer, the small towel I put in his back was soaking wet…I realized, the passengers’ attitudes towards the drivers’ speeding is a very important factor in the perpetuation of this devil-may care behavior on the road. Inside the van, I looked around us and saw the locals were dozing off, even snoring, like it’s just another day.

I used to hear people say that if you can drive in Manila, you can drive anywhere, pertaining to the “kaskasero” (speed maniac) attitude of Manila/Filipino drivers. Ha! They probably have never been to Thailand! If it were in my country, the Old Catholic ladies would have already cursed the delinquent driver to hell and back! Speeding and swerving Bangkok-bound, no one even bothered to call-out the kon kap’s (driver) maneuvering techniques. For them, the faster the better.

I made a mental note:  I would never put Ian through that kind of torment again.

Visit http://www.thingsasian.com/stories-photos/2489 for the full list.

On a more scientific approach, Ponboon et.al, of the Thailand Accident Research Center cited in “Contributing Factors of Road Crashes in Thailand: Evidence from an Accident In-Depth Study” reasons such as roadside hazards, cargo load, panic -like steering and driver age for the mounting accident rate.

For this article, I read the Land Traffic Act, B.E. 2522 (1979) proclaimed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej himself.  I don’t really know how the traffic authorities actually enforces these regulations (do they go on patrol, do they install checkpoints, do they penalize non-seatbelt wearing drivers or overloading of passengers, etc.). But whichever way they are doing it, I am not impressed.

My first-hand observations on the traffic conditions here are unbelievable.

Take this photo, for example:

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This exhibits a simultaneous violation of:

Section 121 (500B). …………..The passenger shall ride at the back seat provided for the passenger, or in the side car.

Section 122 (500B). The rider and the passenger of a motorcycle shall wear a motorcycle helmet.

Section 43 (400-1000B)
No driver shall drive the vehicle:

* while being intoxicated by liquor or other alcoholic drinks

(I have no proof that Mr. Driver has been drinking but one must be surely drunk to make irrational decisions such as to carry 5 human beings, the 4 being children on a tiny two-wheel vehicle)

*with carelessness or recklessness which may cause danger to persons or property

* in a manner not normally practiced in driving a vehicle or while unable to see the way in front or at the back or either/both sides clearly enough for safety

*without thinking about the safety or suffering of other persons.

I am putting emphasis on that last line.

Safety issues which could potentially lead to suffering of persons should not be taken lightly.  I do think there is a limit to when “sabai sabai” (could be translated into English slang as “everything’s chill” or “not a care in the world”) is appropriate. Adherence to road regulation is clearly not something we should be “chill” about especially when it could mean the lives of our fellow human beings…

Perhaps in the third world countries plagued by poverty, the lives of our fellow human beings have become so cheap that we don’t care if we lose…what’s the statistics again? 26,000 people every year excluding the unreported cases!

Surely, I am not the first person to make these observations. While researching for this article, I have come across lots of blogs and websites who are expressing the same degree of frustration as I have. Check out some of them:

http://womenlearnthai.com/index.php/motorcycle-safety-campaign-in-thailand/

http://superenglishsurat.blog.com/2012/12/20/riding-on-your-motorbike-thai-style/

http://www.pattayadailynews.com/en/2012/01/13/dangerous-overloaded-sattahip-songthaews-carry-30-students/

http://amusingthailand.com/hell-on-wheels/thailand-bottled-water-truck/

http://www.globalish.com/forum/threads/when-three-isnt-a-crowd.294/

As I read and discover more about the traffic situation, I realize I need to learn more. It seems, there’s more to this story than what meets the eye. Most of the blogs I’ve read focused on the motorbike problem. Some discussed the issue of traffic violations in general, detailing statistics, charting values of road accidents per type of vehicle, overloading, etc. The list is endless.

The facts are appalling but what I am truly puzzled about is the motivation. Why would these people subject themselves to this amount of potential danger? My impression was that the story is more about a sheer disregard for rules or safety regulations, an overly relaxed or daredevil approach in life. I mean, I would understand if a passenger cab driver does a 100-120 (minimum is 80) in an almost empty toll way. But speeding and swerving when other vehicles are also speeding and swerving is unacceptable. Especially when I tell him I am not in a hurry!!! Maybe he doesn’t care about his life but I do care about mine.

Once again, I wonder if it is only a true mindlessness or unawareness of the possible tragedies that lurk in the sidelines. I am doubtful because mindlessness is not a very Buddhist attribute. But then again, I could be just generalizing. Besides, reckless drivers are everywhere, not only in Buddhist countries like Thailand.

Despite my annoyance, I am still concerned about those speeding private vehicle drivers- those who race to death as if they don’t have families to go home to. How many children each year lose their mothers or fathers to drunk driving?

More so, I am very worried about the future of those children whose parents take overloaded public transport commuting to and from their workplace.

Those parents — do they pause for a while and contemplate what could be the consequence of their actions? Do they think for a second…hey, maybe if I ride this overloaded vehicle and something bad happens, what’s going to happen to my kids? How will my loved ones feel?

Maybe they never think about it because the forms of transportation they take daily are the only ones they’ve known since the beginning of their lives. Maybe they learned from their parents that taking overloaded “song thaews” is okay. “Riding the motorbike taxi without a helmet is okay; ask mother, she does it too”. Don’t worry.  In turn, their kids learn from them and the cycle continues. It becomes a societal habit. It is integrated into the culture. It becomes a “normal” thing. That’s when it becomes a bigger problem-when we don’t realize the hazards plaguing us even when they’re already staring us in the eye.

1r

2r 3r 4r 5r 6r

While writing this, I asked various co-workers about what they think of the traffic problem in Thailand. More specifically, I asked whether they had an issue regarding speeding drivers in their country. 3/3 said “120kph is normal. In fact, that’s not too fast.” The nurse manager in the next department said “Oh! I’m not the only one doing that. XXXX does it too”.

I am no cultural psychology expert or road accident specialist, but I do have common sense. Most of the time, that is all that it takes to know that there is something wrong.

I believe the government of Thailand has recognized this issue too, long before I wrote this article.  The Thailand Accident Research Center is incessant in their efforts to promote safety awareness. Or so their website says. Despite its prevalence, the government tells us the accidents have been significantly reduced in the last few years. I don’t know about that but the numbers mentioned above still look big  to me.

A public problem becomes more relevant based on how it affects people across the socioeconomic spectrum. The Upper-class may not need to take public transport, their kids may not need to ride motorbike taxis to go to school. The rest rely on public transport drivers to take them to their destination. No matter the differences, tragedy can strike anybody. It is a great equalizer. Some motorists drive slow and steady. But a speeding car could hit them and cause damage to life and property. Little children crossing the pedestrian could get hit by drunk drivers. Even a careful driver who forgot to wear his seatbelt could die when he gets hit by a big delivery truck. What I’m saying: our individual actions affect not only ourselves but the world around us. Every little thing we do or not do impacts our lives in varying degrees.

Having said this, I conclude that in facing this dilemma, both government and people must do their share.

Individual motorists and even passengers can start by thinking about personal safety before turning on the ignition key. A perfect example is securing their seatbelts on. I often notice that public transportations such as taxis and mini-vans don’t have safety belts except for the passenger in the front. Tsk! Had Princess Diana worn hers, it’s possible she would be alive now. Who knows? Of course, regard for personal safety must be accompanied by a social conscience, a responsibility for one’s actions keeping in mind that a rapidly moving ton of metal could hurt or kill someone. Pedestrians must also be wary of what’s happening around them before they cross the street. They must use the right crossing or an overpass. Motor accidents also happen when pedestrians are careless and do not follow rules of the road.

On the government’s side, the solution, for Thailand, and likely also for the other developing Southeast Asian nations that have poor safety standards and practices, is a combination of boosting the existing  public awareness programs and  effective enforcement. Maybe the commercial campaigns, TV, radio, sopy and billboard ads depicting road responsibility as well as the horrible consequences of dangerous behavior messages aren’t coming across, eh?   And seriously, somebody has got to penalize those speeding drivers and drivers who don’t wear their goddamn seatbelts. Even harsher mandates are necessary for securing children safely in vehicles.

If the above suggestions could be effectively employed, the state will reap the windfall created by punitive fines for speeders and reckless drivers, the revenue paying for the public awareness campaign and – who knows? Maybe some funds left over to improve the roads! (Though honestly, Thailand’s road system is waaay better than most countries)

The eventual result would be a decrease in accidents over the coming years, which translates to more lives saved. Less injuries, less health care costs…the benefits go on.

Piña Colada, Prose and Poetry: Parting Ain’t Pretty

It’s been 43 hours since Ian left. I am still not ready to face my life…my life in Thailand, to be exact.

My thoughts keep repeating: I don’t belong here anymore.

I am at the point where my reality feels unreal.

My real life is in my fiancé’s arms.

_________________________

I’m supposed to be cheery. This last visit marks the final leg of this K1 journey.  In a few months, I will finally be with my love for good. We will never be apart again. But I’m not exactly feeling like Missus Positivus today.

I don’t feel like doing anything. I’m blaming it on the fact that after 10 days together, I got so used to Ian being here. I wrote him a poem earlier and in it, I expressed my melancholy…

My darling…

It’s only hours from your departure

And even the skies in Bangkok

Cry tears of grief

Your absence has sucked

The life out of my city

***************

I know…I know…I can be overly dramatic sometimes. Or hormonal.

There’s something different about this last visit though, aside from (but possibly related to) it being the last. I feel like this time I am bluntly refusing to feel all of the agony of longing. I cried so much before Ian even left, so maybe that’s why I didn’t have any more tears to spill after coming back from the airport.

Ah! The train trip back to the hotel – always the worst part of Ian’s every visit.

This time, I managed to scribble a note aboard the coach:

Dear Ian,

It’s 9pm and you must be boarding your plane now. I’m at the basement level of the airport, waiting for the next train to arrive.

I am safe. Don’t worry about me (although that’s impossible for you not to do). I’m a big girl and I will take good care of myself-I can handle it. 

So this is it! We’ve come to the last leg …three exciting, exhilarating and extraordinary visits. We have definitely made tons of memories that will last a lifetime. I want to thank you, with all my heart, for everything you’ve done to make these visits possible. And of course, for all the things you did while you were here. You have made me feel very special in countless ways.

 

Absolutely special! Years back, I used to wonder: How do you know when the person you’re with truly cares about you and cherishes you? I never found the answers until I met Ian. I know now, even without putting so much though into it, I am truly deeply madly loved. I feel it in every word that comes out of his mouth, every little lazy croon of endearment, every single touch and breath…

I am secure.  He makes certain I feel that way every day.

On my end, I am equally and irrevocably in love with him, powerfully so.

Have you ever thought of being in, or staying in a relationship just for the sake of it? Have you ever felt like keeping it the way it is because, after all, it was a good-enough set-up for you?

It’s not the most wonderful thing in the world.  But some say, you won’t really know the difference until you are in a relationship where both partners are truly crazy and craves for each other, respects, trusts and values each other like they would themselves, admires  and adores each other and expresses said admiration and adoration for each other through words, actions, etc.  It’s elusive, this seemingly ideal thing I am talking about, but it’s not impossible to have it. It does happen to mere mortals like us. Once you have it, you’ll be wise enough to follow Christina Perri’s example:

I will be brave I will not let anything

Take away

What’s standing in front of me”

 The PA announced the train’s arrival to Makkasan Station…less than 13 days ago, Ian and I got off at this stop to go to our hotel. That place is special to us because it’s the same place we stayed the first time Ian came here. Being in its lobby, rooms and dining hall once more was reminiscent of our very first few moments as a couple…It was in this place that we first said the three little words that made us both the happiest people in the world that minute…

(more of this in TRUE LOVE TRAVEL LOGS…Coming Soon!)

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20 minutes after my departure from the airport, I was still sitting in the little corner I found inside the train. I kept writing:

“Your plane is probably flying back now. I pray for a safe flight for you my love. Know that I am always sending positive thoughts your way.

Darling, I already long for you, even though we were together only a few minutes ago.”

***************

It’s almost silly how I could miss him already when we were together only a few minutes ago. Silly, yes, but ironically it’s more sad than silly, how Farewells are.

You say goodbye with the promise that you will see each other soon…as if the promises will make it less painful. It doesn’t. But they give hope. It’s almost like grimacing a smile, or swallowing a bitter pill that you know would heal you and end your suffering…Thankfully, his farewell kisses (like the Pina Colada I had back when we frolicked on the beautiful island of Koh Samed), were sweet, full of promise, with a burst of salt from my tears…they were a reprieve.

“Parting is such sorrow, but your warm embraces and loving whispers are sweet sugar cubes to our otherwise bitter cup.”

But I know Ian and I know each other more than anybody else does. Our love transcends. I am connected to him and he is connected to me no matter how far apart: We are two photons entangled.

b-w photons I+W

“I am pressing my lips, savoring the memory of your last few kisses: quick but passionate still, urgent but not any less meaningful, a public display which yet delivers a secret only our two hearts will understand…”

Yes. I truly believe you my love. We will see each other soon.