Just before I turned 5, confused and innocent, I left the place so called home with my family. We flew on an airplane, which for many people, it is an exciting and extraordinary experience, but at the mind of a little boy full of endless energy, it was just like any other regular boring trip because there was not much to do other than to sleep peacefully or to sit down quietly. Thankfully, I have my two elder brothers, whom I can annoy, aged 6 and 7. They were born 11 months apart, making them Irish twins. Eventually, I was sound asleep; the flight approximately took us 3 hours from the Philippine to Thailand. By that time, Don Muang Airport was still the main airport for both international flights and domestic flights. Nowadays, it mainly serves domestic flights while Suvarnabhumi Airport serves international flights. Soon after we landed Thailand, we were greeted with a warm welcome. Instead of having my wild, carefree, and cheerful spirit, I was frightened from the uproar of the strange crowd; they were words foreign to my ear, as if it was chanting of native Indians preparing their bizarre rituals. I held tighter to my mother’s back trying to hide my little body, but her calm smile reassured me that everything was going to be alright.
We were met by my dad’s friends and they then drove us to our new home which was located in Nonthaburi. It was a two storey house with a living room and a kitchen on the first floor, 2-bed rooms on the second floor and of course a toilet for each floor. As the days passed by, I remember our friendly neighbours trying to get to know our family, but due to the language barrier, it was all pointless. Nevertheless, our neighbours still gave us this bright and warm smile each time we walked past. There was one time when my mom and I were invited to eat at the front yard of their house, they placed a medium size wooden mat and we shyly sat with everyone in a circle like formation surrounding the food. To my surprise, it was instant noodles with vegetables! Everyone was happily feasting and slurping from the same very bowl. I tell you, it was very odd. When I was older, I later found out that it was a Northern Thai tradition where family members eat from same bowls and utensils, if it was a nonmember of the family dining, then it means they have accepted you as a member.
As time passed, I began to notice adorable house miniatures standing tall at the front yard of their houses. Thinking maybe it was just a piece of Thai traditional house statue, but then it sparked curiosity when they offered food to it. Speaking of food, I thought it was strange that my parents only took us to the same restaurants, and cooked the same dishes over and over again. I eventually get tired of it and which made me question; “why can’t we try other food?” People interacted in a different manner when greeting; bringing hands together in a prayer like manner and slightly bow together. This made me think of back home in the Philippines, the flavourful, tasty food, the cold, chilly weather, and the jolly friends I can talk with. How could I possibly forget my sweet home in the Philippines? Why did we ever move to this strange, foreign land? So lonesome, that my eldest brother cried, “Why are we in this country?”
Months passed as we adjusted ourselves to this strange land, it wasn’t easy but we managed somehow. My brothers and I became friends with the children in the neighbourhood we still couldn’t understand their language, so we all tried to communicate by nonverbal gestures and motions: they taught us games which were all new and different compared back home. By playing with them every day, we unknowingly began to speak Thai, the next thing I know, we were all shouting and screaming in Thai with all the other kids. My family also began eating authentic Thai food which I discovered that they were all actually very fiery and spicy yet appetising; Later in life I developed acute gastroenteritis from eating too much spicy food. Yikes! Once in awhile my family would go out and eat in a Mu kra Tha which was a few metres away from our house. Mu Kra Tha is a Thai dinning open air buffet by cooking on a charcoal grill costing only 79B (2.3$) per person! Not only is it cheap, but when it rains while you’re eating, then it’s totally free! The very reason was because it’s open air having no rooftop at all. When this happened to us, instead of avoiding the bill my parents would always try to pay, but with a timid smile, the vendors would politely reject.
Years passed, but yet the season has never changed, this is Thailand. Summer’s blazing heat got through even the thickest walls. Slowly, I began to love and accept Thailand, learn their language, eat like them, be like and live like one of them. I have been captivated head over heels by the friendly culture, the peaceful way of living, and most importantly the mouth-watering, fully seasoned food. This has made me forget home. Though when people ask me where is home, I was always hesitant to answer. I am confused by the very definition of home. Is it your home country or is it the place you grew up? Can one even measure? I was lost with words, but the question still lingers around the corner of my brain. After countless sleepless nights; I found my answer, home is not where you are from, but it’s where your heart and soul belong.
This is my home.