into the deep end

by ty

it’s been awhile since i’ve posted anything, mostly because of how hectic the school term was and how painfully quiet the holidays were when they first started. it kind of hit me a little while ago when i was in this little process of thinking (when you’re on the plane with no flight entertainment, that’s all you can actually do) i kind of thought about how whimsical and ridiculous it is to rant daily on a blog which isn’t that private and so i’ll try to steer clear of ranting today?

in terms of travelling, i’m kind of saturated at the moment considering that close to the end of the school term, due to circumstances we made a trip down to penang, and in the course of the past two weeks, we went to bangkok and penang. which adds up to six plane rides in the course of a month, two of which were staggered by twelve hours – which might not seem much to some but trust me, it was tiring.

and for some reason i’m really growing to like bangkok for several reasons. i still remember being really hyped when we got back from the tour trip to thailand last year and went on happily about all the fun things we did on pattaya and the theme park and the shopping in bangkok, but this time even with spending three short days in a small portion of bangkok, i got the same amount of satisfaction (if not more). rather than sitting in a tour bus or being lazy like we probably would’ve been before, we ended up walking and getting lost and squabbling (inevitably) and often got to our destinations with sore legs and close encounters to being cheated by a guy who claimed that the mall only opened at 1pm on that day and offered to bring us around – of course when we got there at 9am it was really, really crowded.

and there’s something about just walking with a very skimpy and blurry map on your phone that makes everything really interesting. there’s no time limit besides the desire for air-conditioning, and there was always a high chance of getting lost because we did try a shortcut on one of the days but ended up miserably lost and angry. but everything fell into place eventually, and that’s what matters.

people always say being on a trip with family or friends is a huge hit or miss thing, it either makes your bonds stronger or ruins the vibe entirely. and that’s true, because if we weren’t quick to fall back together after two hours of walking and getting lost, things could’ve turned sour. but it gets fun when despite the frustration involved in squabbles, they become jokes and things to look back on when you’re done.

i also discovered that the enigmatic flavour of travelling that made our family much closer was the fact that it was just us against the crowds and our attention was right there. in the now.

besides fond memories of laughing and all, the special thing about this trip was how we really experienced the hospitality of people in bangkok and how they literally, really, service with a smile. regardless of whether it was people in the hotel, owners of small cozy restaurants or stall owners along the streets outside the hotel – they were all so friendly and into whatever they were doing. it gets very comfortable and warm when you’re in a foreign country getting lost or at a roadside stall and clogging the place up and instead of snorting or swearing for you to hurry, they’re just smiling and asking you to take your time.

generally, i loved bangkok and really, wanted to smack myself when i did my prayers wrong. my god. 

bangkok made me think that maybe being in crowds wasn’t that painful after all.

but it’s still really stifling in crowds at home so i don’t know, really.

penang was lovely too, of course. in this trip we shifted the focus from shopping and all to being around the family. starting from taking a public bus over to a morning market with the grandaunt during the premature trip to spending our nights at the grandmother’s house with warm dinner and talks (and gym sesssions??) – it was different from the past few years. a highlight was how i spent alot of time talking to my grandaunts and granduncles over the span of the two trips which was enriching and extremely amusing at times as well.

one of my grandaunts is a fighter, a strong fighter for life, enduring lots of things and telling us that having walked through things like anxiety, depression and countless struggles regardless mental or physical – things aren’t as bad as they seem if you stop making them the centre of your attention. and generally, if you don’t place it as the centre of the universe then it won’t affect you as much as you think it does. which makes sense, but easier said than done i suppose. she recently walked through a surgery for her eye and it was really intense, given her body’s condition but she pulled through and started driving too early – she’s so adorable. she has arthritis and can’t eat peanuts but sneaks them in her mouth when my uncle isn’t around, and gets caught endearingly everytime.

another’s a really adorable figure, who loves knitting as a past time and has a queer habit of talking to inanimate objects. she once talks about speaking to her deceased mother’s photo, talking to her plant and even her utensils. her sense of humour is really gold and being around her sometimes reminds me of being entirely carefree and comfortable on great evenings at home. across the span of the few days, she shared a few anecdotes in attempt to simply get me to laugh and greeted us on the first day in adorably colourful clothes claiming that she was a sexy countryside woman which probably suffices to prove my point about her humour and endearing antics.

a. when she used to live in her older house which had a atap roof.

she had a cat which was a little too playful for her liking and so when she left it unattended to handle her chores one afternoon, she returned to find it harrassing a little baby crow. it wasn’t the friendly kind of play but it seemed bent in making it its food. a little while passed by and as she described it, the entire family of crows came pecking at her roof and the roof almost fell onto her. therefore, she hurriedly threw the baby crow outside and they picked the child up but unfortunately by then, the crow was barely breathing. she locked her cat up in fear that it’d do something similar or get attacked by crows but when she left the house later that evening, she got attacked and her head bled.

she told me this with a laugh, but i reckon it hurt really bad.

 

b. knitting is always my thing, but its kind of dangerous to make a shirt.

when we got back to the apartment at night, she gestured for me to go over and i found her sitting on the couch with a plastic bag full of balls of knitting material in different colours. she was basically knitting an adorable little vest which she had made once, just that this one was going to be multi-coloured.

“you know, making these vests is good but wearing it out is dangerous.”

“why?”

“because i always take the bus, and if i accidentally hook it onto the seat or if some naughty kid cuts one loop, the whole thing comes off!!”

“good grief.”

“and then i’ll be put up in the newspaper headlines as a grandma stripper 👵”

we both ended up laughing really hard.

 

c. i love my whisky.

on the first premature trip, my uncle gave her a bottle of wine which was adorable because it was pretty small. when we went back for the second trip, it was finished but filled with some other liquor.

“you know, there was once i used to have a dog at my old house. i was drinking my stout in a cup with a straw and after awhile, it kept getting lighter.”

“how?”

“so i looked at the drink and half was gone even though i didn’t drink any.”

“evaporation or.”

“my dog drank it, he went sip sip sip from the straw and then he started running back and forth, back and forth until he finally stopped. and he fell asleep like he was super giddy.”

“ouch.”

merely a few out of the many stories she had to share, and yet it really highlights her personality. i recall her being shocked at how we managed to take photos of her without her realising, and how she mused over our grandmother getting into the habit of stuffing her plate with food from the counter – lively, and undoubtedly healthy in several ways at her age.

of course, there’s my granduncle who greeted guests with a pat and a comment on their appearances, humorously calling an uncle plump and being extremely nice to my brother and i thanks to practically never seeing him since we were small children. he’s a huge advocate of being active even at old age and often did little dances to encourage us to never stop dancing because that’s what keeps us healthy. he also stresses on family, the proud origin of my favourite quote about your family being the most important, and nobody else should ever be able to convince you otherwise.

i didn’t get to spend as much time as i wanted with my grandmother, but seeing her and the amount of weight she lost was really, worrying.

in hindsight, the time spent overseas meant alot this time round with lots of space and time for reflecting and thinking about things in which of course during the few weeks leading up to the exams i did do a fair bit of thinking and got revelations – but fully since october, i’ve been learning alot about myself. i’m trying to make changes to about mistakes and slip-ups that i might’ve been guilty of, but i have no idea how it’ll work.

but it’s probably worth a shot.

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