This week, I’m further south at Pattaya City, Thailand. I just arrived here from Bangkok. It’s a striking difference from Guangzhou, where the sky is always white.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about shaping the place we’re in. This week I’ve been thinking about how the places we’re in shape us. My friend S. says whenever they travel it’s like they leave behind a shut down body which on return must be powered up again. Please imagine the Windows XP startup sound.
A hackathon in the UAE has selected to fly me over and have me mentor there, so I’ve been busy planning that trip out. But apart from figuring out my housing, I’m not really planning on what to do there. I think it’s more exciting that way. These things tend to fall into place.
The planning has me wondering how I’ve been living in a similar way. Or to put it as a question: what’s the best life I can live given whatever my current situation is—my constraints? In Guangzhou I didn’t work much. Due to the surveillance state, quite a lot of coffee shops require a Chinese phone number to text or a Chinese passport number—both of which I do not have. Dealing with the Great Firewall doesn’t help much either. So I journaled more. I was happy to spend more of my time with relatives.
I keep getting this weird sense of home whenever I’m in Guangzhou. I associate Cantonese with home since I speak it regularly with only my parents, but almost everyone in that city speaks the same language. It’ll never feel more homely though. And that’s okay. I was having dim sum a couple weeks ago and met this elderly couple. Once they found out I’m from the US, they asked me if I could speak Chinese (which we were talking in Chinese) and if I knew how to use chopsticks. That conversation pretty much ended there.
This week in Thailand has been conducive to coding. Not knowing anyone here helps. I usually work outside in the warm weather, usually in the night so I don’t melt, but also because I had some calls to clients in US timezones. Some days I take breaks and go to beach islands, try to swim (to be frank, I don’t really know how), visit temples, and watch sunsets.
Soon I’ll be in Boston, which will produce its own arrangement. And at some point after that, I’ll have to boot up into my New York body, the one that cooks food and brews bubble tea at home, that goes to boulder at night and leaves sore-armed and chalky-jeaned. And when I’m in Dubai, I’ll aim to find the music there.
Keeping an open schedule, deciding at the last moment, and working with what you have. I think it’s better that way.