Someone Else’s Paradise

I moved to Phuket living with my husband on November 17,2014. Before that, I lived almost all my life in China. I still remember that day when I left China the temperature was like 5 degree, wearing my thick coat but I didn’t feel cold as I knew where I am going — Phuket, my dream city where the temperature is always around 30 degree.

When I was living in China, I was very used to be waken up by my clock setting at 6:30, as the old Chinese proverb says, the whole day’s plan starts from morning. Yes, around 6:30, the city is still quiet, all you can hear is the traffic down there on the road. Because my parents’ house is in a tall building along the main road, even the windows are framed with two layers of thick glasses, the traffic, all vehicles passing by, would penetrate the glasses to let you know.

Most of the time the sound is boring and annoying, my neighbors would like to add two more layers of glasses for quiet life. But I can have fun with it some time. For instance, I can tell the different car passing by, like ambulances, firefighter’s trucks, police cars, football fans’ buses…you can always forecast that something happened; I can also tell different weathers according to the traffic, at least whether it’s windy, raining, snowing, or freezing on the road. See? if I want to try having some fun, I can always have some.

First morning when I woke up in my new bed, actually I was waken up by curiosity. No more traffic sound at all! Moreover, I can hear more sounds, like birds singing. All the windows are open, I am still lying in bed, trying hard to stretching my ears for more sounds, yes, I could hear some more: first, it’s cookoo! hang on, that is the bird sing I only heard at my grandparents’ rural house when I was still little, their house is really far faraway out of town in a small village. The bird sings like “cookoo,cookoo”, guess that is how it gets its name. Together with the morning solo opera singer Mr.Rooster, it breaks the quietness of the morning and brings the daytime. That is absolutely something really rare in our concrete city back in China. Then you can hear how the breeze skips through the leaves, making sound like winds are dancing waltz or tango or foxtrots with palm trees, mangosteen trees, coconut trees and all other plants that I don’t know their names yet.

All of a sudden there is something strange like an echo appearing over the roof, and more echoes. As I haven’t heard it before, I thought maybe that is some strange animals or some monsters around, I hid my face in blanket and poked Paul, “Listen honey, what is that sound? ” Echos again. “Ginkgo.” Whew, now I relaxed. But how come a ginkgo make sounds like this? Why didn’t I ever hear any ginkgo sound when I was in China? Maybe it is too noisy that their sounds can’t overcome our talk so we didn’t pay any attention? Or they are already too scared to make any free sounds in China? Anyway, that is something I first heard.
Then some other birds joined in, I feel so embarrassed that I can’t tell their names, but beautiful, stunning sounds.

And 8 am sharp, the louder speakers everywhere would broadcast Thai National Anthem. We never play our national anthem in China. But still, it’s holy and spiritual, a fresh way to start your day! So how would you say in this condition? I would say I do like to wake up by this wonderful morning symphony.

I dare not mention too much about my happiness to my family and friends in China, as I know I will make them envy me so much, they would tell me with jealousy, with water running in the mouths,” Lian, stop showing off! You are living in paradise now! Have some mercy for us!” Yes, I am living in my dream city, I am living in paradise.

There is a saying about traveling: traveling is to move from somewhere you are bored of, to somewhere other people are bored of. Since I have officially moved here, it is my life now, not my traveling any more, and I am not bored, just some other sounds also join in my paradise. Well, to be honest, the truth is I found out other sounds exist at the same time, which before I didn’t pay too much attention to.
Phuket is a mixed town, you can find all variety of races.

Around 5 am, the morning Islamic prayer starts, mysterious, historical and profound Arabic, accompanied with a kind of really stubborn bird with single tune of singing. Paul would say I am sugarcoating the bird’s noise instead of singing as it always disturbs Paul’s morning dreams.

Here comes the neighbors next. As our house is right in the middle of a big family houses, the benefit surrounded by them is really easy to know everything about their lives starting from morning, I mean everything. Well, even though Paul and I can’t speak Thai, but we just knew! Here comes the toddler,taking her first speaking lesson in the morning in the open yard, just like any other toddler like any other country, trying to make some sounds by making mistakes, now the grandparents are laughing and probably correcting her, “dear, what are you talking about? You should say it this way.” And the toddler tries more mistakes. I am sure that is how we learn our language too. After some passionate discussion, guess they all finish breakfast, time to go to work, motor bike engine howls on the driveway in the yard, fails, grandpa shouts to the son,
“what happened there?”

“Engine doesn’t start.”

“How much gas left? Did you lock it properly last night?”

“Quite enough gas dad!”

“Try again then!”

It howls again. God bless! This time it works and the motor bike leaves.

“Goodbye dad, goodbye mom!”

“Have a nice day!”

The following is their car. Everything happens all over AGAIN! Only their car engine works fine, don’t have to start twice.

If it is the weekend, that is more passionate, like a big morning party! Every member of the family is invited to celebrate glory morning in front of the yard, people are talking and laughing and exchanging useful messages so happily, really sharing family!

“You know the local market on X street, I bought beef cheaper than local market on Y street.”

“Oh, really? How lovely! I should go buy some too.”

Married daughter would take her children back to visit grandparents early in the morning to join the holy meeting, that is more interesting, like Christmas Eve or Chinese New Year. Guess you can get that picture easily.

Hang on, that is not the end of my sounds list. There is a water pump behind our bedroom, it works random times a day, random hours, almost every 60 minutes before breakfast, lunch and supper. Of course sometimes we can have some extra Thai cooking fume along with the pump working noise, that is some nice side effect I have to admit.

Living next to an expat is good for me I guess, as I can practice my English hearing. Our next door neighbor speaks Laos, Thai, French and English. Wow! It should be good. But it turns out not so nice starting from 8 pm till late at night like 1 am in the early morning with laughters.

Something else about the solo opera singer. Well, on my neighborhood exploring tour during the first month, I actually found a chicken shed 20 meters away from our house. Paul didn’t notice it before as it is well hidden behind the bushes, under the trees behind the wall. So, it explains why this solo opera singer there does not feel tired at all. No wonder we hear rooster’s singing all day long. Rooster myth solved: mister got some companies.

At last but not least, there is a giant construction site 200 meters away from our house. It is a good economic sign that they are building new apartments here day and night, it seems all the workers don’t take any rest, they worked even on Christmas, New Year’s day and on the weekends too.

Now imagine the noise around us? Guess you will have some headaches too.

I am not sure starting from which day, Paul begins to complain that he can’t sleep well starting from 5am, the morning prayer. We try closing windows, even preparing ear plugs for him. It seems no improvement. I feel stuck as i don’t know what to do to help him.
Two nights ago, my brother called me from China, telling me about the bad weather in China. No rainfall, no snow, minus 7 degree, PM 2.5 index is really high, over 300 all weeks. Smog, that is what people are breathing here. So easy to have breathing and lung problems. Naturally I complaint to him that weather in paradise is always around 30 degree which makes me sweat and burns me. And there is no fall or winter at all! Worse still, there are some wild animals might be dangerous! Like some other day I noticed a lizard,about 50 cm long,walking in the middle of the road like it owns the road! And later I found a green snake wondering in the front lawn in the yard, I am not sure whom was scared of whom,we both ran away.

And another day in Phuket town, I saw a palm sized squirrel crawling along the electricity wires, running around not worrying about causing any wire problem!

There always will be some road signs reminding drivers to aware of elephants, cows, and buffaloes rushing out of the roads! And I did see buffaloes twice on the roadside. They are so close to the beach! Yes, and all the birds, talking noises in the morning…

I was still in the emotion of complaining while my brother interrupted me,

“Sis, think about it, when is the last time you saw any kind of animal in Jinan(our hometown)?”

“Well, if flies and mosquitoes don’t count, I guess the last time I saw wildlife was when I was at the zoo.”

” Don’t you feel lucky that you are living in paradise now with some side effects, while other people are still suffering from the air they have to breathe everyday? Stop bragging and enjoy your beautiful life now. Be grateful everyday! I remember that you were an optimist when you were in China, what changes you, Sis?”

I was speechless for quite long time. Am I too greedy? Am I desiring too much? Since when I started to have more complains than appreciation? Where is old Lian who believes even the dark clouds have silver lining.

Now I start to close windows while sleeping; and try focusing on the thing that really matters to us. Neighbors talking, let them talk, they have the freedom and maybe I can learn some Thai from them; roosters singing, let them sing, it’s time to get up and start fresh again; ginkgoes echo, let them echo, they will eat more mosquitoes…see? All I need to do is to adjust my attitude to all these and accept the bright sides.

Life is too short to complain, let’s enjoy! Besides, I am living in someone else’s paradise. No, it is my paradise too! So, no more complaint, embrace the new life and enjoy it!


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