12 Years Ago and Now

           I am back in Thailand as an adult and as a tourist.  I have more money to spend.  My goals that I posted in the first blog was going to different places, eat different foods and compare my experiences of Thailand as a ‘refugee child’ to my experiences as an ‘adult tourist’ and learn from them.  Now that am free to do as I wish, I bought a huge quantity of clothes as well as gifts.  To others it might seem like I spent so much and impulsively.  So, why do I spent so much? 

           Twelve years ago when I was still a child living inside a refugee camp in Thailand, I’ve never once in my life have more than 15 baht (about $0.45) in my hands.  Most of the times when I go to school, my parents would give me 10 baht (about $0.30) to spend.  Everyday, I will use five to seven baht for my lunch and I would use the left over money for snacks.  Sometimes, I would buy rice paddy with banana inside to eat on the way to school.  Sometimes after lunch, I would get a pancake in the shape of a turtle for 1 baht.  Sometimes, I tried not to spend all of the money my parents gave me so they don’t have to get me more money the next day.

            I’ve never wore a pair of shoes worth more than 10 baht (about $0.30).  Yes, the more expensive the shoes are the prettier they are.  I’ve always resisted it when my parents offer to buy me a prettier pair of shoe and declined their offer although I wanted a pair of nice shoes to match my friends.  I was eight years old at the time and I was not too young to know that my parents are struggling to make money and to keep foods on the table for their six children.  There were many times that my family of eight shared two pack of noodles.  We would make it with a lot of water and mixed the noodle soup with rice and eat it.  Most of the times, my dad would only eat a little so that his children will have enough.  My dad would eat the left over foods on our plates when we are done.  I am aware of this,  every time he gave me a piece of meat or more noodles, I would purposely not finish it and pretended that I am full so he will have a little bit more to eat later.  This was my life in Thailand from the day I was born until I was ten years old.  I’ve never regret any of it but learned to appreciated how much my parents love us. 

          Now I have more than 15 baht (about $0.45) in my hands, I have thousands of baht to spend and have spent thousands already.  I am spending to make up for all the things that I’ve never had.  Still, I have no regrets for what I spent my money for.

4 thoughts on “12 Years Ago and Now”

  1. Thank you for sharing such a personal and beautiful story Chee. My dad would tell me of story in the refugee camps also and every time it would touch my heart. I saw some pictures of my family and their life in the camps and they looked very happy because everyone was together. <3

  2. Writing about this topic was a bit of a challenge for me because I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get my point across. I am not much of a writer but I hope this got my point across to my audience. I got very emotional and cried while writing this blog. These stories are great reminders of how much I love my parents and how much my parents love us, it made me appreciate them more and more.

  3. Chee,
    Reading your post brought tears to my eyes as well. I so loved your description of your dad's sacrifice for his children, how you recognized that at such a young age, and how you purposefully didn't eat all your food so your dad could have more to eat – that's beautiful! Your insightfulness, even as a child has continued, and was so apparent to me on this trip, especially in your questions, your desire to really understand what you were experiencing. I look forward to watching how your path unfolds. I feel fortunate to have been with you in Thailand on this small part of your journey.

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