I don’t know what’s wrong with me. When I get that urge to flee, it’s hard for me to shake it. I thought I was lucky when I discovered that there was a direct bus from Bangkok to Sanghklaburi, and I wouldn’t have to transfer in Kanchanaburi as most people recommend. My friend and I had said our good-byes the night before: she was heading to Ko Phi Phi for some beach time and I was off to another volunteer project. I took the 9am bus, it was a scenic ride, and I arrived just after 4pm. It was a Sunday afternoon in a small town and there were no more sawngthaews (shared taxi) heading to Huay Malai that day. I could have taken a motorbike taxi, as the cost difference was negligible, but I was still lugging around my precious wood carvings since I could not mail them in Chiang Mai. I had been carrying these Buddhas since Laos, only to discover that I needed to get permission to mail them out of the country, and it would take five days. So, I will continue to carry them until I get to Malaysia in October. Anyhow, with all of my junk, a motorbike taxi just wasn’t ideal. I started to feel a bit of anxiety about my poor planning and wished I had taken the 6am bus. I decided to stay in Sanghklaburi for the night and try again the next morning to take a sawngthaew, in hopes that other people would be heading that way. Since I hadn’t planned on staying in Sanghklaburi, I just picked the cheapest, closest guesthouse.
Burmese Inn= Ewww
I walked a kilometer with my things downhill to one on the lake. A young lady showed me a room, and though it had tacky sheets and was scruffy looking, I didn’t want to hike with my belongings to look for something else. When I inquired about the whereabouts of the bathroom, assuming that it was shared, she pointed to an inconspicuous door in my room; the bathroom was en suite. I set down my belongings, entered the bathroom and noticed that an entire wall of tile had been removed. I also discovered snails hanging out on the wall. Ick. The guesthouse provided toilet paper and soap though, so I figured I’d survive. I stepped back in the room, grabbed the bar of soap from the side table, and went to wash my hands. But I couldn’t find the sink; maybe it’s in the room, I thought. Wrong. There was no sink, so I washed my hands under the shower faucet.
I started feeling anxious, and had that, What am I doing here? moment. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go out to this volunteer project anymore. Pathetic, I know. The staff had written nothing but kind words to me, the volunteer reviews I read sounded great, and the project sounded right up my alley. But here I was having a ‘flee’ moment. I walked back into town and went to an internet place to let my parents know I had made it as far as Sanghklaburi. The bus doesn’t run very often from here so I contemplated looking up the bus timetable to return to Bangkok.
Bangkok? Maybe. Home? Yes please.
Not only did I feel like I should leave, but then I had the feeling that I wanted to go home. It was 6:30am on a Sunday morning back home so I couldn’t call to have anyone reassure me that I should buck up and go to this project. I imagined myself back home, sitting around the island in the kitchen while my mom cooked dinner. I yearned to be gossiping with her about anything from where to go on our next shopping trip to the cute guy that works out at the gym to what movie we should go see over the weekend. Simply put, I just wanted to indulge in the normalcy of home.
I left the internet café feeling bummed. I grabbed some sticky rice on the street and walked back to my guesthouse, dreading having to return to my depressing digs.When I got back, I took some photos of my hideous room and uploaded them to make myself feel better. It began to thunder, and the nightly downpour commenced. The sound of the rain provided a calming effect, and my anxieties began to fade. I started having rational thoughts again and concluded that yes, I did want to check out this volunteer project. It sounded like such a perfect fit for me when I first discovered it, and because things hadn’t worked out exactly as planned, I had let that get in the way.
Thankfully, I shook off the urge to run back to Bangkok and hunkered down in my lumpy bed with faded teddy bear sheets. I reminded myself that I was a happily unemployed traveling bum, and that I wasn’t a fan of the alternative: a working woman back in the States. I relaxed… for all of about five minutes until a gigantic moth flew at me, causing me to squeal. In my defense, I had rat sightings several times in the past week so any moving creature, especially one diving at me, had me a little on edge. I decided to get up really early the next day to get the heck out of my grotesque surroundings and get on to my intended destination: Baan Dada Children’s Home.