A (Slightly) New Me

Everyday spent teaching in Thailand is a gift. The pleasures of this beautiful and exotic country are innumerable. I don’t have to convince anyone of that. You have all seen the scenic beaches and have heard about the exciting and dynamic big cities. Bangkok comes immediately to mind. It is the product of enormous Asian investment in the eighties and nineties that caused many international companies to move their headquarters. I can live in the city and travel to the countryside so I can take advantage of all aspects of the culture. My students have also taught me a great deal about daily life. A foreigner only has a limited view unless you make an effort to broaden it. Bangkok has so many individual neighborhoods that it is impossible to know them all. I try to wander about as much as I can. I depend on suggestions from my students of what “not to miss.”

There are tourists everywhere and you can’t avoid them unless you go far afield. I arrange for outings with the students now and then so I can get off the beaten track. We even go hiking and camping. On the last group trip, I took my briefcase along because I forget my casual backpack. It sat idle in the storage closet and missed out on the weekend. When I got back, I noticed that the trusty old briefcase had been damaged during travel, and I could see that it would be impossible to repair. It was stuck under the kids’ gear. I must get a new workbag I thought and immediately went online. I read this guide and selected a nice, upscale backpack instead of a new business-style briefcase because it seems to better suit my current lifestyle. I had brought it with me when I first came to begin my new teaching post and just kept on using it by default. Now I have the opportunity to make a change. We all need to do it now and then.

Scouting for a backpack was tough with only Facebook or Instagram, so I decided to go to a store I had noticed on one of my walking tours of the city. This would give me a purpose for another jaunt. I like to do things in person in Thailand for this reason. I don’t need the ease of the Internet. You can get whatever you want in this cosmopolitan city and a backpack is absolutely no problem. While foreign goods are available, I also look for local products whenever I can. They are cheaper than imports and of rather good quality for the most part. I don’t expect hand-made backpacks, but I do like the different stylistic twists I see in the store. There are certain materials and accessories unique to the country. It will be useful and a kind of souvenir.

I am now a changed man as I go about with my new backpack. The students were surprised at the change but I explained the choice.