Preview of my Thailand trip#2: This is the surreal White Temple in Chiang Rai, built by this very flambouyant artist in honor of the Buddha. When he was asked why he built this temple? He answered: Because I’m rich and I can. Good an answer as any, I guess.
The temple is huge, gaudy, breathtaking, strange, surreal…I think you have to be there. See those hands reaching out in the foreground? That’s supposed to be the suffering people in hell, trying to get out—or maybe drag you in. If you look closely, you’ll see all sorts of hands—human, demonic (as in with claws, etc—like that hand, below right), monstrous (with fur or hair), and even robotic (or maybe just in armored gloves). Inside, it’s all murals. Some panels have Neo (of the The Matrix) and Superman in them. Surreal, I tell you.
I just came back from a trip to Thailand last Sunday and as the plane readied for landing at Changi, it just hit me that hey, this is gonna be my home for the forseeable future. I mean, yes, I know on an intellectual level that Singapore is gonna be home for the next year or so, but I guess on a visceral level I still consider myself a visitor here—the Philippines is still home.
As the plane readied for landing, and I can hear the sighs of relief of people who are at journey’s end and looking forward to home, it struck me that while I was looking forward to a good night’s rest, it wasn’t the same as going home. Don’t get me wrong. I like Singapore and love my friends and I’m comfortable where I live but I still don’t feel like I’m part of the fabric of life here. Does this make sense?
During the trip I was always asked where I was from and there’s always a pause, barely discernible, before I answer Singapore; I guess I’m still not used to saying it. And when people hear where I’m from, I always get a confused reaction. I guess I don’t look and sound Singaporean. So I always follow it with, but I’m Filipino—and then their faces clear. All this has made me a bit unsettled—like a teenager trying to figure out where she belongs.
Anyways, enough moping. I’m here and I’m happy—for the most part—and I get to go places I won’t otherwise see. That’s a good enough reason to be here for now.