Saying Goodbye to Phuket

Tomorrow, while not technically my last day in Phuket, really feels like it. I'll be leaving the apartment that's been my first home in these travels, leaving behind the friends I've made here in Kathu, and moving to a hotel in Phuket Town for the 5-day gap before I leave for Chiang Mai.

Today, I spent the afternoon and early evening at the restaurant of my first friend here. A tremendous woman named Meow, who, the second day we were talking, decreed in English, "I can tell. You good person. Whatever I can do to help, you I do." She's taught me lots and lots and lots of the Thai I know, and helped me in more ways than I can count.

But more than that, she's unfolded Thailand, its culture, and its people to me. I know her story - how she went to Japan and worked there for ten years to make enough to get all her kids through college. How she picked up Japanese, on the fly, just like I'm doing with Thai.

We've talked about racism, government corruption, societal inequity. She's asked me if I'm ever going to find a nice girl and get married. I've hung out with her daughters, her granddaughter knows my name. In a small sort of way, they've been like family.

In the end, I thanked her as profusely as I'm capable of doing in Thai, she replied "mai bhen rai", and "I hope I see you again someday."

I hope so too, I responded in Thai, but I don't know. A final sa-wa-dee kap with a proper wai, and I walked away.

I've known that this day was coming, that these goodbyes were going to be part of the journeys I'm on. I just didn't know how they'd feel.

Sad. Sweet.

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