I haven’t slept much the past week. My parents were visiting and being the combination of my mom being up at sunrise and me being a light sleeper resulted in less than my barely acceptable usual six hours of slumber a night. I’m tired, and I’ve been traveling and haven’t adjusted well. But I’m also in Thailand, so I can’t really complain. Getting here was ridiculous, with nearly 24 hours of travel, a delay, two airports, running through my layover, a metro station and a walk through a bustling metropolis at midnight while getting hit with waves of nostalgia along with the unmistakable aroma of Bangkok-like someone ate garbage and then farted it into the air. It’s a smell you get used to, like the slight urine-y waft of New York City.
I had not been here in ten years. Then, it was smack dab in the middle of my year traveling around the world. I had come from Indonesia, and was easily more accustomed to Eastern World traveling than I am now, despite being a seasoned veteran. The ninety-degree air and hot cement at midnight was familiar, but uncomfortable. I am not that wide-eyed backpacker. I had been beaten down after the flight and lack of sleep and just wanted to get to my hotel and have everyone get the fuck out of my way- very Western World.
I woke up with renewed zeal for my trip and embraced Bangkok. By luck, my hotel now was just a couple blocks away from my friend’s condo, the one I stayed in for weeks back in 2008. I was lucky enough to play native last time. I got to make food in a kitchen and walk around without a backpack of all my stuff. Walking through the old neighborhood was energizing, at once familiar and still a little distant. I had stayed in a hotel just doors down from the condo at one point, but that was now gone. I walked by the condo, following the path I went every day to the park I would run or bike around every morning.
A lot has changed, as you can see from the before and after pictures.
I’ve changed. My pace was better, for one. I had more hair, more weight, and more ignorance back then. Now, skinnier but wearier, I ran around the track marveling at every step about how lucky I was to be where I was, geographically, sure, but also on another sabbatical, ten years after my first sabbatical, still chasing elusive goals.
I’m making it a point to have this trip be more chill. It could be my last big vacation for a while (maybe not, but until I find someone willing to give me money in exchange for services again I have to plan a little differently). I tooled around the city.
In a daring feat of sacrilege, my first meal was Mexican. It was a place my friend introduced me to back then, and when I saw the location I frequented was gone, I was too excited to find another to not partake. There will be plenty of Thai food in my future, though I think they just call it food here.
So, while I may be having fun, enjoying life, there will be less stories to tell this trip, less pictures to post. I’m going to try and do something I’m very bad at – relax. Read a book or two. Write a book (or two). Think. Be.
But I may just hike twenty some miles a day too, you never know.