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April 26, 2005

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

The flights home were long and uneventful (Phuket—>Taipei—>LAX). The plane had an individual screen on each seat for TiVo-like movie viewing, select TV shows, and video games. It rocked really hard. I saw four movies: Ray, Meet the Fokkers, Spanglish and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events — and an episode of Friends. I tried to sleep as little as possible so I would have a chance of sleeping when I got home (8pm) and minimizing the jet lag.

Our friends Julie, Marc and Olivier joined G. to meet me at the airport, along with Julie's brother Jean. It was so fun to have a welcoming party! And poor G. , his arm in a blue sling to help his shoulder heal. He has a great one-armed hug, though.

Please click continue below to read more impressions of coming home.

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Driving home was surreal. I climbed into the "wrong" side of the car and settled into the cushy leather seats. It was strange to be riding INSIDE the car — my last ride in Thailand was the flatbed lorry ride to the airport with five other volunteers. Great way to see the countryside (and to see crazy Thai bus drivers unnaturally face-to-face at high speed — not for the faint of heart). The ride home from the airport was a superspeed tour in contrast. Instead of lush rolling palm-forest hills, we passed square miles filled with commerce and wealth. Instead of long rows of unmarked wok vendors frying noodles, rice and chilies, we passed as many fast food places peddling grease. Instead of a two-lane highway puttering with motorbikes, open cars, buses and pickup trucks—taking turns to pass—we hurtled along 12 lanes of freeway filled with expensive sedans and SUVs and an overwhelming amount of signage.

It was strange to come home as well. Where did I get all this stuff? Why do I need all this stuff? I'd spent the last six weeks living out of a single suitcase, wearing basically two outfits and rinsing my knickers at night to keep them "fresh." And how can these sheets be so clean?

I missed the buggy one-room bungalow with the sandy floor, the noisy crickets and the chirping geckos. I missed my regular end-of-the-day chat with my girlfriend Moira from Chicago. I missed the Thai fare at Khao Lak Seafood, the favorite restaurant in town.

I told G. as many stories as I could gush out as I presented him with souvenirs: Thai shirt, Thai pants, a monk's alms bowl, Tiger Balm patches for his shoulder. I learned a lot more about his two years in Cameroon, and was able to understand his experiences even more. He took me to dinner at the most un-Thai place we could think of : El Conquistador, authentic Mexican. Mmmmmm...cheeeeese. They don't have much of that in Thailand.

It's COLD here, 65 degrees! I put on a heavy wool sweater. At Thap Tawan camp where we painted houses, the average temp was 91 in the shade, 122 in full sun.

The adjustment process won't take long, I know. But I did enjoy my work as a painter, a teacher, a blogger, a boatyard assistant. I worked with the nicest and most giving people. I will miss them very much. But hopefully some will stop through LA on their way to the rest of the world.

Posted by sedda at April 26, 2005 06:55 PM