I felt like a cliché. The college grad who faces a crisis over her own personal fulfillment, so she wants to leave the country and start a life abroad — but is too scared of societal pressures and whatever conditioned ideas of success she has, so she stays. I’ve thought of these recurring thoughts and the idea that people don’t understand me, or no one knows how I feel. But the feelings of misunderstanding, isolation, longing and restlessness — they’re not new. People have felt these emotions over and over, by those who have lived hundreds of years before and those who will come after.
The first time I was in Hong Kong, I dragged my feet the entire time. I remember a photo of my 13-year-old self wearing an orange rain jacket and pigtails. I look miserable. Maybe it was the humidity that upset me, or I was jet-lagged and wanted to sleep. I still can’t understand why someone that age who had the opportunity to travel to Asia could look so unhappy.
For years Thailand has been held up as a beacon of stability and comparatively good governance in a region often lacking both. But recently the country has been slipping into what would appear to be a zero-sum political conflict. First came the protests and coup against then Prime Minister Thaskin. The coup was supposedly to restore order but was seen by many as an attempt to remove Thaskin permanently. Thaskin’s populist policies aimed at empowering rural and northern Thais were interpreted as interpreted as a threat by the traditional power centers, including the military.