It’s the spring of 2001, before the world changed.  I’ve just checked into a hotel in Bangkok, after planning for two months and flying for about 13 hours.  I needed a break from work, so, at my husband’s suggestion, instead of quitting my job, I took a leave of absence and made reservations for a month in Thailand by myself. The reservation was for the flights only, plus two nights in a hotel.  My time here is completely open.  I can do anything I want!

After the excitement and the anticipation and the long flight and the time difference, I open the door to my room at about four in the afternoon, exhausted.  I have the major realization that there is nobody to plan with or coordinate with. Has that ever been true before?!

I take off my clothes and get into the comfortable bed and immediately fall asleep.  When I awake at 11 pm, I am totally refreshed and very hungry.  And exceptionally aware of my aloneness.  I CAN DO whatever I want.

I am also strongly aware of a new fear.  I am in this strange country with no plan and I am afraid.  I consider calling room service, so I don’t have to go outside and encounter anything unfamiliar.  I consider the possibility of staying in this room for the entire month, not leaving it until my flight home.  

Then, I bravely make a decision and a commitment to myself: I will get dressed, go downstairs, and walk around the block.  After that, if I want, I give myself permission to come back to my room and call room service.

I shower and brush my teeth and get dressed, feeling pleased with my brave decision.  Then I take the elevator down nine flights to the lobby.  When I walk outside, I am surprised by the high level of activity and by all the people I see.  I walk to the left, beginning my walk around the block.  After the first corner, I hear an unusual sound and decide to follow it across the street.  As I follow it, it gets louder and is clearly coming from a human being, high-pitched tones.

I walk about five minutes, seeing more people, many more people, gathered around a stage, with simple benches set up for the large audience.  Onstage, unlike anything I’ve ever seen at home, is a Chinese opera, with bright costumes and colorful characters.  I have no understanding of the language, but, judging by the response of the audience, it is clearly a comedy.  I sit delighted for about an hour, then called by my stomach, I head back towards the hotel.  

I resume my walk around the block, stopping at a restaurant with patio seating. My first real Thai meal in Thailand is completely delicious. When I return to my hotel room, I am satiated and ready for sleep. When I awake in the morning, I am ready to leave this hotel, ready for adventure, no longer afraid.

Years later, 2017, with my school’s international group

Published by cyrein

Quaker, adventurer, wife, mom, sister, friend, special ed teacher, learner

8 thoughts on “Fear

  1. It’s nice you worked through all the resistances, letting go one by one, like the way on-duty muscles have to relax for the breakthrough to sleep, which is another form of productivity. How wonderful to be refreshed and exhilirated by ‘aliens’. My 15 months in the Army Engineers in southern coastal Thailand gave many lifelong openings, and it was there I watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, from a B&W TV in a village restaurant.


  2. What a wonderful adventure- I think you must have a delightful Guardian Angel, who is also a bit of a jester to land you in such amazing circumstances!


  3. Congratulations Carole, a fine start to your blog. I look forward to reading about the adventures in your list. I am pleased to be a “charter subscriber” to CarolesWords. The story about the eagle as well as the drawing are remarkable. See you in the blogosphere!


  4. Thank you for these wonderful stories. I love how open you are to people, experiences and change. You continue to be an inspiration to me – I often channel your courageous and committed energy when I embark on something new.


    1. Thank you, Jenifer. Well, I know you because we were jail buddies together, neither of us very experienced at it, but equally committed to the climate.


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