Sticky rice and mango on a Bangkok roof
Trip Start Oct 04, 2005
62Trip End Ongoing
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I'm in Bangkok again, the first place that I've returned to for any amount of time in the three months that I've been in SE Asia, and it is a new city. When I first arrived all those months ago, I didn't like to admit it, but I was overwhelmed. I didn't hate the city and its somehow organized chaos, but I didn't exactly love it either. Everything seemed like a challenge and by the end of that five day stay I was ready to just get out. I was itching for adventure and the mystery of what exotic places like Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos would bring me. I was scared to death of squat toilets and unsure if I could effectively get around in a world that didn't really speak English. And yet I felt the draw of places void of the drunken backpacker beach culture, places the very idea of which fueled my dreams of an Asia not yet conquered by the tourist world. In that state of mind, with the naivete and exuberance of a traveller just starting out, Bangkok wasn't exactly a place that I was even ready to start to embrace. It is a city filled with expats (many of them 'sexpats'), skyscrapers, mass transport systems, and malls. Today I saw an Ethan Allen, and Starbucks is almost as popular here as in DC. Seeing them now, after a month in Laos, these reminders of the western world, along with toilets that actually flush, are fun and kind of exciting. That is not, however, how I felt the last time I was here, fresh from the luxuries of Phuket. Three months ago I was raring to go and ready to get away from all those things that still seemed everyday. Now, though not exactly a seasoned traveller (those words conjur up images of old men with big beards and leathery skin who smell bad), but still pretty experienced at this point, I'm beginning to feel jaded...but in a good way. And on returning to Bangkok, once again getting stuck here due to visa stuff, I had a moment where I realized just how much I'd changed in the last few months. I was sitting on the garden roof of my guesthouse, looking down on the neon sign-lit streets below and enjoying my sticky rice and mango dinner, when I suddenly realized that I love Bangkok. Looking around me at all the gaudy lights, the people giving themselves up to all the (somehow legal) pleasures of the city, I could just feel the steaming energy of the night. No matter how covered Bangkok will get in overpriced coffee shops, there will always be this primal, sexy heart beating at its core. It's not 'just another city' as many travellers like to dismiss it as, it's a place to feel as much as see. And on this trip, not going near Khao San or Patpong or any of the 'must see' sights, I've finally felt it just by sitting every night with my sticky rice and mango on the gardenroof of Suk 11.