“Sawatdi, khrap!,” bellowed the taxi driver as he waved his hand in my direction, calling for my attention. A sudden chill shot up my back as I ambled my way toward him. The chill was distinctive. It was the sort of chill one feels in the wake of illumination. For me, the chill accompanied the realization that I was in Thailand… that I was here for 12 months… and that I did not speak a word of Thai! “What was I doing here?!,” I screamed at myself, frustrated. As I closed the taxi door and buckled my seatbelt, the feeling escalated. What was mild trepidation was now unbridled terror. But as the taxi descended from Suvarnabhumi’s arrival terminal toward the highway, I was given a glimpse of Bangkok in a dawning horizon. Almost immediately, the feeling dissipated, and excitement ensued. “I am in Thailand!,” I told myself again, this time enthusiastically.
My name is Andy Hoang. I’m a Fulbright Scholar to Thailand studying the social and cultural perception of disability in rural Southeast Asia. In subsequent entries, I hope to share with you the emotional and cultural experiences my travels have brought me, and the personal development that they have inspired.
Click here to view a slideshow of Andy’s pictures of the ancient ruins of Ayuthuya.