I’ve been living on Koh Samui, an island in Thailand, for two weeks now. Throughout my time here, I have seen a glimpse into island life and Thai culture. I have slowly built friendships with people in the community, like the juice lady from across the street and the bartenders in the bars I frequent. Each one of them has taught me something new and has given me a glimpse into their life and their history.
For example, here are some of the things I took for granted in America:
- Running water (the island has been out of water for 6 consecutive days now)
- Privacy (I live in a small room with 5-7 people)
- Non-corrupt police
- Being able to flush the toilet after I pee (we can only flush if we go #2)
- Free water and ice
- The luxury of wearing shoes inside (we have to take off our shoes to enter stores and homes)
- Comfortable beds without springs that give my hip bones bruises
- Clean water
- Air Conditioning
- Walking down the street without being chased by stray dogs
- Trashcans (trash is scattered through the streets)
- Sidewalks (we walk in the streets with cars, trucks and motorbikes honking at you)
- Dollar menu at McDonalds (drunk munchies is real)
- Not knowing the ingredients and chemicals used in the food I’m eating (I get most my meals from street carts where very little English is spoken)
- Free speech (In Thailand, we can not speak ill about the royal family)
- Hustled/scammed by everyone because if they see white skin they automatically think you’re wealthy
- Traffic laws (I don’t think there are any in Thailand, and if they are, people don’t follow them)
- Clean feet (the minute I walk out of the shower and walk across the pavement to the staff building, my feet are dirty again)
- Indoor kitchens (everyone’s kitchens are outside their home)
- Mosquito bites (with repellent on or not, I get bitten up every time I go to the beach)
- Clean bathrooms (no matter how much I clean them, they never seem to stay clean)
Some of these things may seem unbearable. I never thought I would be okay with sand in my bed because my feet are never fully clean. Or that I would feel comfortable walking outside in just my towel on. Or that I would learn to be okay with never being fully cooled down because no rooms or restaurants have A/C in them. Or that I would walk around the street barefoot. But the calluses I have earned and the lessons I have learned are testaments that you can live anywhere and be happy.
If you told me this was how I would live a few months ago, I would have said you’re crazy. But during this time, I have learned that you don’t need fancy accommodations to enjoy life. I am living a very cheap, minimalistic life, yet I feel so rich. I feel rich from my experiences, the memories I have created and the knowledge I have learned from this community.
And now I am confident that I can shower anywhere anytime. Just give me a bucket of water and I can make it work.
Also, thank you to my friend and fellow traveler, Riley from Minnesota, for helping me come up with this list.