Back in Bangkok.
I’ve come full circle. A different person walks these streets to the me 6 months ago – a somewhat scared, apprehensive one but full of excitement at the wonders of the world that lay in the journey ahead.
But it was real, I backpacked my way around South East Asia and some parts lived up to, or exceeded my wildest dreams, and some parts sucked and I wondered what the hell I was doing!
Back in Bangkok – Now I’ve come back to where the journey and adventure began.
In many ways Khao San Road and Bangkok seemed better and more exciting the first time around. It’s true that it’s a gateway between the west and east but now I’m back in Bangkok the sheer amount of westerners partying and home comforts on offer unnerve me a little.
On the first visit Bangkok seemed exciting and exotic. I revisit some of my favourite spots and marvel again at the elaborate, golden, glittering Grand Palace.
But Khao San Road now seems bland and boring compared to to other parts of Asia that I’ve now experienced.
It all seems a little fake. Bangkok is so modern and developed and Khao San Road is so westernized that I hardly believe I am in Asia at all.
Instead of listening to the latest hits with partying westerners I find myself wishing I was back sitting on a tiny plastic stool drinking fresh Bia Hoi with the locals while motorbikes whizz past dangerously too close for comfort along the streets of Hanoi.
Now I look nostalgically on the beginning of my trip I know that travel has changed me. I feel so lucky to have seen, experienced and learnt all the things I have from a year of travel. I feel much more confident and worldly wise.
I remember the culture shock of those first challenging days in India among the chaos, poverty, colour and life of Mumbai’s crowded streets
Although India shocked and challenged me I grew to love it and learn from it. I also think back to those first few difficult, apprehensive, insecure days alone in the suffocating April Bangkok heat.
Now I feel so much more confident – I know I can do it. I have come full circle in a way.
I feel I can cope with anything that Asia throws at me safe in my knowledge that the world is kind and people are inherently good!
But now back in Bangkok, and especially Khao San Road, pales in comparison. Have I just become jaded? Things do not shock, scare of excite me as much as they did those first few uncertain but heady days when everything was exciting and new.
And was the world what I hoped and dreamed it would be?
It was different, it wasn’t how I could ever have imagined it but yes, in someways more so. I can feel a deep change in myself, something that you can never get from reading travel magazines, history books, photos and a 2 week holiday.
In some ways, no – it wasn’t all plain sailing, not all ecstatic fun times. There were so many sad goodbyes. Sometimes when I was sick on another bumpy night bus that felt like it would never end I wondered what the hell I was doing here! Why the hell was spending so much money to be doing this when I could be in my comfortable bed at home!
“I’ll be happy when …..”
And no it didn’t solve all my problems but perhaps that’s the thing that I needed to learn and I feel grateful for all the privileges I have, I’ve had it so easy – I’ve never known war, famine or persecution. Coming face to face with such poverty in places like India and such shocking, brutal history in Cambodia really put things into perspective for me, looking at these people who have been through so much and still have ambitious, determined smiles on their faces makes me I vow not to take things for granted again.
Walking these, now familiar, streets of Bangkok I can feel the change in me. I feel a little sad, nostalgic perhaps, that it doesn’t hold as much excitement for me anymore as it does for the partying, pale skinned backpackers fresh off the plane. In some ways I miss that heady, nervous excitement of those first steps let lose alone into the other side of the world but I also treasure what I have seen, what I have learnt, the person that I have become.
Bangkok is a great starting point but, for me, it’s time for new adventures, it’s time to move on.