An Adventure to New Reality

Karen Phillips Smith, Wilmington


As a young woman I was given the opportunity to live and work in Thailand. Southeast Asia is an alluring land of welcoming people speaking over a thousand languages. The landscape is intermingled with mountain ranges, beaches, islands, bays and inlets. I spent any time that I had away from work exploring this magical and intriguing place.

The rivers are a thriving source for commerce, where the Khlongs and other tributaries serve as a floating market place for vendors selling their wares to the many residents living in small homes built on stilts along the river. These rivers and tributaries in Southeast Asia provide a daily resource to its people for bathing, transportation as well as a food source. You will also pass the many Buddhist temples with their statues of Buddha standing guard outside.

Southeast Asian cuisine comes from multicultural roots that bare similarities that include the liberal use of spices, herbs and other seasonings. Delicious foods can be found in the many and varied restaurants and street vendors with offerings to include spring rolls, curry, fried spiders, glutinous rice, noodles, skewered meats and coconut ice cream. I lived in a gated compound that came with a maid and a guard. It also came with geckos and oversized lizards that were a desired source of food for the guard. I also learned that hanging laundry outside for drying, especially lingerie, was desirable contraband.

Every morning as I waited for a taxi or a bhat bus to travel to work, my senses were bombarded by the sights and sounds of the morning rush hour. Water buffalo on their way to the rice fields, Tuck Tucks motoring along with their customers on board and motor bikes weaving in and out of traffic with families of 3 or 4 holding on tightly to one another.

I have been privileged to have traveled to many countries in my lifetime and experienced a multiplicity of languages, cultures and people. The sights, sounds and welcoming spirit of the people of Southeast Asia will remain with me always.