This post is Grassroots, meaning a reader posted it directly. If you see an issue with it, contact an editor.
If you’d like to post a Grassroots post, click here!

October 3, 2022

I dislike my New home Bangkok but I am grateful for its Teachings

Currently I dislike my New home Bangkok but I am grateful for its Teachings

Benjamin Franklin: “Many young men die at age 25, but are not buried until they’re 75.”

At 25 I made a decision after being raped losing a long term partnership and my home that I would go out into the world and experience as much as possible of it. I had played it safe my whole life, always doing everything that everyone expected of me. I realised it did not make me happy or bring the life I dreamed of so it was time to challenge myself and get out there, because if ticking boxes doesn’t keep us comfortable or safe then nothing will. So I may as well try as much as I can and do as much as I can whilst I am alive and willing.
With not a cent to my name I got a job on a 6 star cruise ship working 7 days a week as an international fitness director. I was running from a life I once had, trauma I was numb from, people I knew as I did not want that knowing caring look and also trying to find who I was without any safety net.
For the last 12 years I have been living abroad from a cruise ship back home to Australia 6 months then off to Austria for 10 month, South Africa, Australia again after a great loss, to Austria again where I had my daughter and lived in 3 different Kantons, to Saudi Arabia, to Switzerland where I lived in two different cities and now I just moved to Bangkok a few months ago….Im not a big fan yet but I am working on it. It is challenging me to the core, this big concrete jungle. In Saudi Arabia it was hard but I knew it would be isolating and difficult but Bangkok is a mind fuck I cannot even explain, but I will try read on.
Each country has taught me so much about myself, life, people and made me work hard on my mental health and grow as a person. I can honestly say this has been the hardest most rewarding challenge I ever made to keep living abroad out of my comfort zone. I cannot remember the last time I felt truly home or like I fitted in. On the plus side I can remember all that I have been blessed to see, the strengths I’ve grown and also the magic of life I have experienced and cherished.
So getting back to Bangkok…..where do I begin….
Bangkok is a city that stirs your senses beyond anywhere I have ever lived in the world. I’ve always known I am sensitive and senses can tilt me off balance when one is disturb by loud noises, strong smells, certain things I see, feel or taste but usually it only lasts a moment.  Here in Bangkok it never stops disturbing the senses. To the point it increased my anxiety, made me feel overwhelmed and depressed.  When I started recognising this I had to become acutely aware of finding safe places to find peace.  Maybe this could be a new rock band name not just Disturbed but Disturbed Senses or Disturbed in Bangkok lol
The smells here in Bangkok never stop from the odours on the streets, the smell when it pours with rain and is wet, the street food lingering everywhere you walk and people as they sweat and hustle by you. The taste buds are literally on fire by the spices, chillies and flavours my mouth has never even imagined and cannot understand. The noise never stops the traffic, people and the high pitch sing songy voices of the thais beautiful language, air con, music, building works, the rain pouring and so much more. The sensations on your skin dry cold from air con or always sticky from the heat, clothes rubbing, skin rubbing as your body expands in the heat, bodies colliding in the busy moments, sticky seating and so the list goes on.  The sites just lose you with frogs, cockroaches and rats on the street wandering around just like people, the unfinished side walks, rubbish, dirty water ways, monitor lizards, concrete jungle of buildings old and new, brightly colored food and clothes, shopping malls after shopping malls, technology screens everywhere with advertisements, food the color of the rainbow, the red light districts, tourists, locals selling, street food, temples, monks, tuk tuks, young children begging for money, street buskers, trains, traffic, rain, sun, building cranes, trees and parks and more.
Your senses just never stop working and they never find home. They feel like they are on a rollercoaster or a compass that cannot find a magnet. It has made me realise how important mental health is and mental health is not just about meditating or breathing but also about finding safe spaces or respite for your senses so you can decrease anxiety, depression and find homeostasis and reset in your body.
Imagine playing pinball and the ball is bouncing around like crazy trying to get in the hole and over time you get really fired up.  When the ball finally goes in the hole you feel a sense of relief. This for me is how I think of my senses here in Bangkok: they are in a pinball machine and my job for my mental health is to find little pockets (holes) where I can re-centre them and not overwhelm them.
If you are struggling with your mental health anxiety, depression, a sense of overwhelm. I highly recommend you look at your senses and see if you can find things that settle them like calming music, food that does not overwhelm your taste buds, simple things to look at rather than a 100 scrolling items on your phone, clothes that feel comfortable or a temp that feels relaxing and smells that make you feel like you can breath deep like lavender oil or peppermint and citrus with a diffuser.
Bangkok is also teaching me that it is the stories we tell ourselves that make life hard or the lies we tell ourselves. You see we can live the same day from one day to the next, well very similar. However, one day we are grateful and the next day we complain.  By telling a story of gratitude, going to work doing our normal things, life is good and by telling a story of complaints and frustration the next day life is not so great.
Life in Switzerland had everything magical and everything set up for a good life however, depression is high there and there were days I did not enjoy it because the story I told was not positive. Here in Bangkok everything is challenging. It has made me realise how if I keep focusing on all I dislike or find hard in my mind and with my words I will never learn the joy of Bangkok. So I have started simply by saying things like I am learning to love Bangkok. I am happy my daughter is enjoying school and making friends when in Switzerland she was bullied in school, I am happy because the warm weather is beautiful, I love that I can hear a new language, try new food and see the beautiful Thai people who are always smiling or so kind and generous.
This is where I begin and over time I know I will find new places and experiences I love but everything I say in my mind I am mindful that it will either bring light or dark. So if I want to keep my mental health well I must keep choosing my stories and words and lies wisely. It is hard if we live a life that is comfortable and nothing changes, we get bored, it is hard if we live a life of the unknown, it’s overwhelming and uncomfortable. Both are hard and both can be negative or positive if we do not tell our stories well.
So if we all have hardships wherever here is for us and life is hard we may as well tell good stories to make us enjoy wherever it is because this makes life hardships worthwhile and brings lessons learned, growth, and joy, making life the art of suffering well. Suffering well meaning we all suffer but how we suffer is up to the stories we choose to write or tell ourselves.  I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I dont like this is a lie we tell ourselves and a story we tell ourselves. What if we changed it to I am learning to do this, I want to be able to do this soon. I will keep practicing? It makes everything more possible and lighter dont you think?
Bangkok is teaching me that being nice and kind is a choice.  This city is full of poor people and full of not great living conditions, jobs that do not pay well, health that is poor as they cannot afford a doctor, suffering, dirt, fast paced hectic environment, rubbish and more.  However, every person I meet is so kind. It does not matter how short on time they are, if they have 10 things in their hand, if they dont have money to eat, if they are working and in a disagreement they are always kind. In Switzerland people would not even say hello at the cash register, they would keep to themselves if you are near, they would not naturally help you and would not go out of their way to do something unless asked. In NYC I was pushed on the streets, yelled at when I was in the way, told to figure it out myself as I do not have time. In Switzerland everyone had reasonable jobs, money to have clothes, house, education, medical and food. They basically had everything like many of us in the western world yet there was always something to complain about, find fault with, be annoyed at. Bangkok is teaching me Kindness is a choice no matter your disposition and it is a habit that you can build into your life. It is a small thing that makes every day life better for you and the world and we should all do a better job of choosing.
Bangkok is teaching me that money doesn’t buy happiness. The amount of poverty in Bangkok and the slums is a lot.  I have watched people wash themselves in the river, seen people sleeping on the street with rats and cockroaches, young children 6 years old busking or begging for money with their baby siblings and more.  However each of these people go about it and still smile at you. In big cities like London and NYC I only experienced people complaining because they did not have enough money.  Most of us have enough money to get by in life.
Personally our move to Bangkok put us out backwards. We are struggling to keep up with the bills and not saving. However we are realizing the money in the bank does not make us happy learning, seeing, overcoming, doing and growing does. We do want to save and be more comfortable financially but when we do it we also want to appreciate and not get caught up in the spiral of we need more to be happy, but appreciate where we are.
Everytime my daughter complains of late here in Bangkok and wants something else I remind her of a toy she doesn’t use and I say a new toy won’t make you happy. You can either give it to a child on the street or play with it. She chooses to play with it and starts finding joy again. Every Time I feel stressed because I am struggling to pay for things I remind myself of the young children begging and busking for money, the people living in poor conditions and remember to be grateful. I also think about all those that have had money like the 27 club that died through drug adddiction or suicide and remember money never made them happy like Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Robin Williams and Kate Spade. Happiness only comes and let me loop back to the stories we tell ourselves when we find gratitude in the here and now with who we are and what we have and tell the right stories in our minds that empower us.
I am also realising how we all like to project and assume. So many think we are rich moving to another country. Yet I sit here with the air con off because I can’t afford to pay for it if it is on all the time in our apartment, books on the floor because I can’t afford to get more bookshelves yet. It took me 3 months to save for a vacuum. The first months I used a dustpan and brush to clean and wash with my hands on my knees and it has been 3 years since I have been home to Australia due to it being too expensive and the pandemic. I do not have a nanny or a cleaner. I do it all myself unlike many westerners here. You see we do not see things the way they are, we see things the way we are.  Just like on social media and in real life too.
For us as a family the whole time we lived in Switzerland we barely ate out and did not put our daughter into after school activities because we cant afford it. However people thought we were rich just because we lived there. What I am learning is people are always going to assume when you do something they do not do or understand. But the truth is life is not about being rich or happy or more easy for one then another. Things happen because we all make choices to make them happen and when we learn this that life is the sum total of our choices we will be much more likely to be successful with our goals and focusing on ourselves instead of others.Just like losing weight happens only if we really commit to do the things we need to do. In life we all need to learn there is more than one story and we need to stop creating disempowering stories or comparing to others, because it is stealing our joy and limiting us that someone else has something we dont that is why we can’t. If we do this we will learn to appreciate everyone has a story and works for what they have and we can too instead of making excuses and regrets so our goals come true.
One of the biggest and the last things I will talk about today I am learning is that often we as adults do not get out of our comfort zone and stay for growth, because it takes us longer to accept the discomfort than when we were a child. My daughter after about 6 weeks was really finding her new home acceptable in Bangkok and learning to see more magic than me. For me as an adult it has been 3 months and I would honestly like to go home wherever that is. I do not know these days but I am slowly learning to accept we are here and find the positives and growth. As adults getting out of our comfort zone is much harder and we need more time to accept changes and adapt to grow.  This is why we often fail with a new diet or New Year’s Resolutions and exercise routines. It is uncomfortable and we quit and say we are tired or it is too hard too soon. 80% of gym memberships in the USA alone are not used.  Because being uncomfortable & accepting change as adults we just aren’t great at because we dont do it often any more as we can always choose comfort if we want. Kids on the other hand just have to accept and adapt. They live under the rules of their parents and are always having growing pains.  As adults we get to choose a lot of our discomforts or routine comforts ourselves.  So if you are struggling with learning a new skill, getting fit or having growing pains with something new, keep sticking at it for a few months.  Remember it is hard staying where you are and not changing and it is hard being where you are and changing but one yields growth and new strengths and better tomorrows the other groundhog day.
Thank you for reading my adventures and thoughts of Bangkok and lessons learned so far.
See you next time Rhy xo
Read 1 Comment and Reply

Comments are closed.

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Rhyanna Watson  |  Contribution: 28,895