Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My neighborhood…. or, did she really know what she was getting into?

The only pictures I've posted of my immediate surroundings are of my room.  It was a way of reassuring all who were concerned, that I would, indeed, be living a civilized life.

At the time, I wasn't completely sure that was the case.  After a 12 hour drive from Bangkok, at 4 AM, all I needed was a bed to sleep in.  My room was a pleasant surprise.  It was dark out, but still, I wasn't sure there were any completely functioning buildings around, excepting our fairly new "mansion"  (apartment building).  Saturday and Sunday confirmed my suspicions.  Homes, as I know them, seemed foreign to the Thais.  Three walled residences are the norm, so your business is everyone's business.  There was an overabundance or car repair places; well, one look at the roads would explain that!

However, on Saturday, Lertluck took us to a new mall nearby…. four floors and all high end stores.  That only caused more confusion.  Certainly no one could afford to shop there?

Our "Mansion"

our neighbors across the street

at the end of our road

The bar/restaurant on the corner

The daylight didn't improve the view….

this is a tent city…. these people have been living here for 3-4 weeks, displaced when the rains flooded their homes

this looked more like a really big worm than a snake…. I swear I saw something like this at a street food stall

and then the Central Plaza….

อุบลราชธานี ราชธานี แห่งอีสาน วันนี้ : Central plaza Ubonratchathani

A look at the interior…

So, what is my neighborhood really like?

Each day as I walk to school, I begin to feel more familiar here, and my neighbors recognize me.

The couple that sells rice cakes on my way to work.

The man who repairs shoes on the side of the road…

The family on the tuk-tuk...

And I've begun to see the beauty.

It's not just the neighbor's cow in the front yard,

or the family (one of many) that drives down my street every day

the trash bins that look like little cauldrons,

the Cultural Arts building at the head of the lake

the manicured trees

my favorite restaurant

or my new favorite restaurant.

There are other houses that are also in my neighborhood...

 In West Newbury I walk drown Crane Neck Street and never look at the broken bricks on my front steps, the chimney that needs repair, the peeling paint, or the potato chip bag that has blown into the field.  It's the feeling I get from smiling neighbors, miniature ponies, and close community that blinds me to the flaws of where I live.

When I wake up in Ubon Ratchathani, I can capture that feeling again.  I can choose look out of my balcony down the street,

or slightly to the left.

Which ever view I decide represents my new home, it is really becoming "home".