In a place like Phuket, Thailand – where travelers either vacation or live for a predetermined period of time – there are always people coming and going. Some are continuing their travels, others are headed elsewhere for a new job and then there are those who have had their fun and are simply heading home. While my past 10 months in Thailand have been littered with acquaintances and friends of friends coming and going, I had yet to experience old friends and/or close friends doing so. That is, until last week when I had an old friend come to visit and saw two truly good friends head back home.
Maddy Billeter and I first met in high school in 2003. I was a sophomore, she was a freshman and we had both decided to join the cross country running team. We instantly became friends. Throughout the next three years, we not only provided encouragement, but competition for one another. It was evident that neither one of us was going to become a professional runner (unlike one of the girls on our team, who now runs for Nike), but we kept pace with one another, often neck and neck, pushing each other to go faster. To be honest, Maddy almost always beat me by a few seconds, but to this day she’ll never admit it. That’s just the sweet, modest girl that she is.
Unfortunately, we lost touch after I graduated high school in 2006. Despite both of us ending up at universities in North Carolina, we never found the right opportunity to visit one another. Now fast-forward five and a half years.
It’s November 2011 and I’m living in Thailand. I log in to Facebook to see a message from Maddy, briefly informing me that she graduated and is now a flight stewardess living in Switzerland and working for a Swiss airline… and that her next flight will be landing her in Phuket in four days.
Since then, Maddy has worked on flights that have brought her back to Phuket in December and then again last week. Each time she has generously brought with her boxes of Swiss chocolate and lots of high school memories. I’m looking forward to celebrating her birthday with her when she returns to Phuket next month!
As any of you faithful blog followers have read in previous posts, Morgan and I have spent a lot of time with Will and Greta Edgcumbe since we moved to Phuket. An old family friend of Morgan’s from South Africa, Will is the older brother of Morgan’s best friend from his earliest days of school. Morgan had met Will’s wife, Greta, on one or two occasions, but I hadn’t met either of them before coming to Thailand. Nonetheless, we became fast friends.
Our adventures included countless dinners, a trip to Krabi, several movie nights and a handful of double-date weekends at the beach. Not to mention celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas together. They made up most of what Morgan and I consider to be our ‘family’ in Thailand.
Mr. and Mrs. Edgcumbe came to Phuket intending to stay for one year, eventually deciding to leave two months ahead of schedule due to finding fantastic jobs back in Durban.
Saying goodbye isn’t a strong point of mine and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t shed a tear or two at the bus depot as we waved goodbye to Will and Greta. But as surely as I know I’ll see Maddy soon, so too will Morgan and I see the other half of our family in Thailand when we return to South Africa.