|Beyond The Comfort Zone – Extracts|
Page 4 of 5
Tumbling Towards Thailand
.............My first view and impressions of my new home were from the air as we made our approach to Chiang Mai international airport. This was to be my home for the foreseeable future and I admit to feeling more than a little nervous as the aircraft swung around the side of the mountainous Doi Suthep past the huge seated Buddha on the hillside and started its descent over the flat plains of rice paddies. First impressions were not good. It looked so tiny, so much countryside and so few buildings I couldn’t really see any semblance to what I would call a real city. My apprehension grew as I came through passport control and hopped in a Tuk-Tuk making my way to the temporary guesthouse accommodation I had arranged before I left the UK. Once more it was teeming down, the streets were deserted and the Tuk-Tuk screeched and slithered down the narrow alleyways of the old city finally arriving at the aforementioned guest house. The owner greeted me with a huge smile, which eased my nervousness and I checked into what was a very simple room on the top floor. Opening the curtains and staring out through the ubiquitous mosquito screen revealed a small and ancient Wat opposite, almost identical to the one I had noticed next door when I arrived, the smell of fruit tree blossoms and jasmine wafted in though the open window.
The gravity of the situation, of what I was about to undertake, really hit me for the first time. I had left behind my friends, family and to all intents and purpose my profession, and landed in a country where I didn’t speak a word of the language and didn’t know a single soul. The stark reality was that, if something were to happen to me here there was not a single person in the entire country that would shed a solitary tear or mourn my passing in any way. I stared at the suitcase and two rucksacks at the end of the bed. My entire possessions, every single thing I owned in the world was in those cases. The rain outside increased its assault on the corrugated roof, it completed the feeling of total isolation that had now befallen me, I sank my head into my hands, ‘Jim, I hope you know what you are doing’. I allowed myself a few tears that night, actually more than a few. What had I done!.......................................