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"At Home in Thailand"
By Kathryn Brimacombe
Editor / Feature Writer
Ko Samet 1
Beneath my closed eyelids I can hear the soft pitter-patter of rain falling lightly on the roof of my bungalow and on the giant green leaves of the jungle outside. I open one sleepy eye and while still lying on the hard mattress, draw the tobacco-smoke stained curtain back to reveal tall coconut palms rustling against a pale sky. My last day on Ko Samet, a beautiful tropical island off the eastern coast of Thailand, looks like it's going to be a grey contrast to the previous days of scorching hot sunshine.

I swing my legs to the floor, and after shaking the cobwebs from my brain, push myself off the bed to take a shower. My eyes widen in shock as the first splash of cool water hits my hot skin but soon it feels luxurious, and by the time I towel myself dry and dress I'm feeling awake and refreshed.

Grabbing my journal, I open the door and am greeted by the sweet scent of the sea, titillating my nostrils. The rain has abated, but as I leave the bungalow fat droplets of water fall on my bare shoulders, dripping off the broad green leaves above my head. I wander down to the open-air restaurant, built right on the sand out of bamboo and driftwood and surrounded by bright, beautiful flowers bursting from large clay pots.

As I sit down at a table facing the ocean and order a coffee, wind-chimes made from flat, peach-coloured shells tinkle delicately in the soft breeze. The waiter, Nui, a twenty-something man with smooth skin and dark dancing eyes, arrives with my coffee and a smile, and I open my journal, soon lost in a world of words and the sounds of the ocean.

Ko Samet 2
Several hours later I put down my pen, shaking my aching hand, and focus my eyes on the view in front of me. The clouds are hanging low and heavy, thick with rain, almost caressing the surface of the sea, yet not releasing their deluge as if waiting for the opportune moment. The ocean itself, a slate-green colour, is surprisingly still as if it's holding its breath, and only tiny waves lap languidly upon the sandy shore. The palm-fringed beach is deserted, due to the lack of sunshine I presume, as if everyone has abandoned it now that they can't get a tan.

Looking around me, I notice there are only a few people seated in the restaurant. Another traveler, like myself, and the others are Thai. The mood is quiet and contemplative, each person separated in comfortable silence, either lost in daydreams or reading a newspaper.

Several meters away an old Thai woman with a betelnut-stained mouth and grey-streaked hair is raking leaves into a pile with a coarse broom, leaving scratching sounds on the ground and in the air, creating a symphony with the sounds of the sea and the cool breeze tickling the pages of newspaper.

The acrid smell of burning leaves wafts in on the wind and I am suddenly brought home to Canada, to quiet autumn Sunday afternoons as a child reading contentedly in the warm comfort of my parents' living room as my father worked at the coffee table, while outside the clouds hung dark and deep and the wind mixed up the scents of rain to come, damp leaves and muffled smoke.

Ko Samet 3
I remember feeling so safe, snug in the security of our house and my parents' love that would protect me from the wild elements outside. Nothing could touch me. Now thousands of miles away and many years from my childhood, I share similar emotions. Contentedness and peace wrap me like a security blanket, protecting me from the threat of the imminent storm and from all harm. I feel that I belong here, that I'm cared for.

My gaze, lost in the past, refocuses and meets the teasing eyes of Nui seated across from me. We smile. I revel in my thoughts of home, reminiscences that have lain dormant for so many years. Then with memories fresh in my mind, the cool sea breeze whispering through my hair, I pick up my pen and once again begin to write.



Other Articles by Kathryn Brimacombe
    National Museum Shows Wealth of History
    Garden Shrine Abounds with Strange Gods
    Rocket Festival Appeases Rain God
    "Coming Home to Nong Khai"
    "Wat Phra That Doi Suthep"
    Korean Buddhism Values Education


Kathryn Margaret Brimacombe is a Canadian freelance writer and photographer, who also works as an editor at The Seoul Times. Before coming to Korea, Thailand was her home for many years. Her articles have appeared in several publications, including the Pattaya Mail and Chiang Mai Mail newspapers in Thailand, and The Province newspaper in Canada. She has a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of British Columbia, as well as a certificate in journalism.

 

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