Sunday, 1 April 2012

A SEA of love for South East Asia

I have been putting off writing this post for some time.  It’s as if it symbolises the end of the adventure.  Truthfully, it has more to do with the fact that I don’t know where to start.   Logically, the beginning would seem like a good place, but after ruminating on this issue for some time, I’ve decided that I don’t want this to be a blow-by-blow travelogue-esque type blog.  No.  So in the end it’s not quite that simple.

We’ve travelled to South East Asia a few times over the years.  There is something about the place that keeps drawing us back in.  It goes beyond the mere fact that I have Thai heritage, because I have a love for more than just Thailand.  In all of our adventures to the place I have always been impressed by one thing.  No, it’s not the culture or the food.  Nor is it the history or the pristine natural environments.  Yes, all of these things are amazing.  But it’s the memory of the people that has always struck a chord with me.

Village boy at the warung near Sunda Kelapa
An impromptu village sing-a-long
Returning to Thailand for the third time in my adult life I was reminded of their warmth and genorousity of spirit.  It was like returning to a warm embrace.  Over and over again we experienced their willingness to stop, chat and laugh.  To share a meal, a beer or a swig of see-sip degee (local whiskey).

Visiting my mum’s village in Ban Dong Nern near Nakhorn Ratchasima in North Eastern Thailand I noticed the sense of community that they shared.  Members of the family, neighbours and family friends banded together to pull off what was an amazing event.  Sometimes, I think that essence of community is sometimes lost here in Australia.  Yes we have friends and family but those moments shared together are too far and few between in most circumstances.

Indonesia was different to Thailand, but the people were no less impressive.  I will always remember the kids we met while visiting the riverside warung adjacent to Sunda Kelapa.  The poverty of the small village made my heart ache, the small homes squashed cheek-by-jowl together, the polluted river bubbling up frequently breaking the edge and regularly flooding the village.

But this sad, difficult image faded as soon as we came across a group of smiling children.  Jostling each other to get in front of the camera, in sing-songs voices yelling ‘Missy’ and ‘Miss Missy’, parroting gleefully after us, crowing with an excitement only possible in children.  This was the same happiness we came across time and time again in Indonesia, a country that has experienced many hardships, that has become accustomed to picking itself up, dusting itself off and moving into the future.

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