I mentioned last week about getting invited to some things by some friendly people I met.
Meeting new people has been a very interesting and fun experience. Living in Utah, I never really had the need to try to get to know new people. I had established friends and people that I cared about. I often find myself missing my friends and family back home. People with whom, I am so comfortable, and with whom interactions are so consistent that conversation can effortlessly take a turn into something meaningful and rewarding.
But, as you can imagine, being in a new country can be a bit lonely. I think its hard for me to admit that since I really do thrive on solitude and me-time, yet we all need some sense of community in order to be happy.
But imagine having to create that from scratch. What would you do? Well, I had no idea what to do, so I just started going out of my way to talk to people here and there who looked like they spoke english. Basically my success rate with white or foreign people has been like 100% which is sort of interesting on its own since nearly everyone is from a different part of the world. I’ve met people from New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Canada, and of course the United States. I’ve met expats who haven’t lived in their home country for over a decade, people who have been in Thailand for going on 6 years. I’ve met people who, like me are quite new to world travel and thought Chiang Mai would be a good place to start. I’ve met people who seem to nomadically wander from place to place and you can imagine that if they had to settle down in one place, they would probably kill themselves out of boredom.
Everybody’s life and background is so different. I cant help but have a sense of wonder that people from totally different sides of the world, from different countries and cultures, can get along and even become friends. That we can talk about normal things, and have conversations like ones I would have back home in Utah. I cant put my finger on exactly why this is so interesting to me but it feels beautiful somehow to me.
So, if you are me and you just start talking to random foreigners you will find that 90% of these interactions don’t seem to go anywhere the first time. You establish names, countries of origin, duration in Thailand, occupation, and other superficial fluff. You will leave feeling happy to have met these new people but not feeling any sense that the the subtle loneliness you have been feeling has been soothed at all.
Many of the people you meet will never be more than a person you talked to once and then forgot their name 2 seconds later. But, then you will run into someone talk to them again, and with some of them you feel a comforting context begin to develop around the conversations. Their faces and expressions start to feel familiar and your conversations develop a bit of a rhythm. And you will start to feel a bit of the sense of community or friendship you were missing.
One of them will message you and invite you to a get together of some sort. You will go and meet a ton of more new people and you will just give up on any hope that you will remember anyones names. But you will run into people that you had randomly already met and talked to.
Your friendships will fall within different groups. You will have coffeshop friends, random guy you met on the street friends, people from a big group that all know each other, and that you somehow got invited to a get together friends.
You keep talking to random people that you don’t know, but the stakes are lower. and now, sometimes, you have already seen this person at the coffee shop like 5 times so talking feels even easier.
What happens next? I don’t know. Thats where I am in the process. I’m still having the time of my life here and beginning to establish friendships has made my experience even better.