<< Read Part 1

I've settled in the city of Sangkhlaburi, built next to a reservoir (large lake), near Myanmar's (Burma's) border. Here, many Karen and Mon migrants (Myanmar ethnic groups) fled their native country but are still without papers after 20 years. Expats of all origins work here with NGOs and try to improve immigrants' living conditions. Because of that, Sangkhlaburi is like a small town but with a very multiethnic and pretty dynamic population. Being here feels a bit different. I think that most people who take the time to come up to here have a different approach to traveling and it makes conversations easier. Or maybe I'm just opening up? Or both?...

 

I've been trying to connect with Thai people ever since I landed in the country because I love people. I'd like to come out of my shell and connect with strangers but it's very hard and conversations are kept to the basics because of the language barrier. Before coming here, I was starting to feel lonely. I met a few people but only briefly. Most travelers stay only a night or two in the same place. Despite this phenomenon, I strongly believe that it's better to take your time and settle in one place for a while. Otherwise, you just take a quick look around, snap a few pretty pictures and move on. What's the point?

Conversations are mostly superficial but I don't worry too much about it. After all, it takes time to become comfortable with someone… It usually starts with the same questions: Where are you from, how long have you been here, where did you go so far, where are you heading... And the language barrier makes it easier to talk with other tourists. Then, we try to find common interests. So far, I've met people from Germany, Belgium, France, United States, United Kingdom, Serbia, Croatia, Spain, Poland, Switzerland, Canada, India, Burma and Thailand.

Sometimes, I run into someone like me, who is looking for an authentic connection with other human beings. These people touch me because they overcome their shyness and share intimate life stories with me, although we started talking just a few minutes before.

Like Maria, this 23-year old Spanish girl, who was leaving her country, family and boyfriend for the first time. She was so homesick after 2 weeks away that she immediately "adopted" me as a big sister, only 2 minutes after our initial Hello!

I also met 2 funny and spiritual Polish women, Anna and Anna (!), both in their thirties. They met on the plane bringing them to Bangkok.

 

Oh and I became friends with Machima and Robin, a Thai-Swiss couple who met in Laos, during a permaculture training and then decided to start a community project (Earthchild) together, here in Sangkhlaburi. With these two, the connection was immediate and we all strongly felt like we were coming from the same place! "Seems like we are like-minded individuals", Machima told me softly: she was very happy to have made a new friend as well!

It's so good, after all this touristy small talk! What's more? Machima is a yoga teacher (it's an epidemic!) and practices Thai massage as well! So we had a massage exchange, which reminded me of what I had left aside in my practice, then a yoga and Qigong exchange… Yay!  :D

 

All these people have in common that they trusted me right away, opened up and showed their vulnerable side to the complete stranger that I was. The result? We spoke from the heart and I was deeply touched! It's truly inspiring and now I'm wondering how I could ease this process without rushing people…

 

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Many of you have met Véronique Laplante during her 3 years and more as Lotus Palm administrator and massage therapist. She is a dear member of the Lotus Palm family and we follow her journey with great pride and love.

She has graciously agreed to share with us her thoughts, experiences and photos while she is traveling through Southeast Asia.

We will publish her story over the next few months. Follow the guide!