May 2010 Archives

People often ask me about my move from the U.S. to Thailand, and I explain that it was a gradual move. I had visited Thailand once before, and I wanted to do more traveling in the area. So in August of 2002 I finally packed my bags in San Francisco and flew to Thailand for an extended stay and some exciting adventures. My Thai friend Mag was waiting for me at the Bangkok airport and over the next few months, he was kind enough to let me use his apartment on Silom as a crash pad, for both me and for most of my stuff while I backpacked around southeast Asia.

During the times that I was actually in Bangkok, Mag was my introduction to Thailand and Thai culture, taking me to see the grand tourist sites but also showing me the simple side of life such as eating chicken and rice at a road side stand. He also taught me a lot about the Thai psyche, saying that I was always acting with too much emotion. It took me a long time to get out of my American ways -- to learn to relax and to take life as it comes instead of showing my emotions when I was upset and frustrated. (Actually, I am still not very good at this, but I always try to do better!)

That December, Mag the jewelry designer helped me a few pieces for Christmas presents for my family back in the U.S. We went through the whole process together, from drawing out the unique designs on paper, to buying the diamonds from Indian jewelers around Silom, to visiting a tiny goldsmith factory in a shophouse in Chinatown where the gold pieces were handmade and the diamonds were set. I loved the fact that I was getting a behind-the-scenes look at how different people really lived and worked in Bangkok.

When I made the huge (and stressful) decision to put down some roots by getting my own apartment and start working at Bangkok University, Mag helped me find a fabulous studio in his building overlooking the city and the Chao Phraya River. And six months later, when I decided to move to be closer to work, it was Mag again who helped me move my stuff and introduce me to his favorite restaurant in the area.

Over the seven years since then, Mag and I slowly drifted apart. We would see each other every now and then on the train or on the sidewalk and chat a bit. Even though we now ran in different circles, I was always happy to see him and his unique, infectious smile.

So it was with great sadness that I learned last Friday that Mag had passed away earlier this month from a lung infection. Only now after three days can I even picture his face in my mind without welling up with tears. All I can do is shake my head and wonder why life sometimes throws us curveballs that just don't make any sense. Mag was much too young and much too good to be taken away so soon.

Mag's death casts a bittersweet hue over my move to Bangkok. It was such a monumental, stressful, educational, exciting move for me, and he was there to help me every step of the way. I will never forget his kindness and never-ending generosity to me during that time.

Taken October 13, 2002 and posted to this website with the caption: "Mag, who is now my neighbor (just a short elevator ride away), stops by to check out my new apartment."

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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