I peeled back the skin of the banana. While the top was slightly bruised, I broke it off easily and threw it away. Then I took my first bite. It was just how I remembered bananas tasting – sweet and delicious. It reminded me how good banana smoothies were on a hot summers day. Not only that, but it also reminded me how much I used to eat bananas back home before the price rose to $14 a kilo (after cyclone Yasi tore its way through North Queensland where many of the banana crops are).
I used to make banana cakes with cream cheese frosting, eat bananas with my cereal and even with ice cream for dessert. Who would have thought a person could be so obsessed over one kind of fruit? All I knew was that I would have to make the most of it while I was here. A bunch of bananas in Thailand cost as little as 5 baht (about 16 cents) and the reality was that once I returned to Australia, bananas could still be about $7 a kilo – too expensive to have with breakfast every morning.
The house I stayed at in Chiang Saen was on the edge of a river surrounded by various fruit trees and chilli bushes. Every time I stared at the river I would feel an overwhelming sense of peace and when a slight breeze blew, the current would reveal itself and small ripples would form on the surface. Other days the river was calm and the only ripples visible would be when the occasional fish jumped. But one of the most spectacular moments was an incredible sunset I experienced. As I sat on the verandah and watched the sun go down, I was mesmerised by the colours that danced across the night sky. I had finally learnt to enjoy one of the many simple things in life.
During the day as we drove through villages and passed countless numbers of houses and schools, it occurred to me that many people had probably never travelled before. Most may have never ventured further than their own village or nearest city, let alone overseas. While some of Thailand’s population is quite well off, many are poor and work tireless days and hours as farmers under the scorching sun. Looking back on my experiences so far, it made me think that being a tuk tuk driver may not be such a bad job after all…
When I saw people working on farms or selling their goods at the market, I often wondered whether they were people who had dreams? Dreams of a better life, a life that didn’t involve working in the sun or having the same routine day after day. Then again, how many of us in the west follow the same routine on a daily basis? We wake up, we go to work, we come home and we go to sleep. It really got me thinking… Do we ever take time to stop, rest and treasure the simple things in life?
And while I’m sure some of these people do have dreams, many of them try to wash them away or toss them aside knowing such an idea is close to impossible. We often say in the west that if you’re not happy with what you do, then change it. And we are fortunate enough to quit our jobs and move on to something that brings us joy and fulfillment. But for the Thai people this is rarely an option and sadly for many it never will be. So let me ask you this. What is your dream?
“Dreams are free, so free your dreams.”- Astrid Alauda