Saturday, August 01, 2009

Going to Thailand

I have my ticket to Thailand in my hot little hand and tomorrow night I am heading to Bangkok. This trip will be decidedly different than last time. Last trip, I basically stayed put in Bangkok, leaving the city for only a few days to go to Prachuapkhirikhan for some non-touristy time.

This time, I am planning on heading straight from the airport to the visa handling center and once everything is dropped off, I am going to take myself to a bus station and head north. The goal is to make it to Chiang Mai and see a bunch of things in between. I am also planning on doing this on as minimal a budget as possible, so it will be buses, trains, and any other transport that does not leave the ground. I want to see Thailand, not view it at a distance through a tiny window from 36,000 feet. The only unfortunate thing is that I will not have my passport with me, as I have to leave it at the visa center for the week. That means I can’t just make brief trips into Laos or Myanmar. I might do an excursion to Cambodia once I get my visa back, depending on how that goes.

I am also packing light. And by light, I mean going with basically nothing. Most of my clothes need to go to the laundry and I haven’t had the time to send them out. So my thinking is to just arrive in Bangkok with my laptop, camera and toothbrush and sort out the rest as I go along. If I have changed in any way since living in India, it is the fact that I can get by with so much less than ever before. Packing for a weekend would mean at least five pairs of shoes. I would pack an entire carry-on suitcase and extra bag for a night in Brussels. Now I am heading out for a week without anything. I am just craving adventure right now. I want to be shocked, surprised, inspired and awed. I want to just go and see what happens. Or what doesn’t. I want to be out of my comfort zone, although after India, I am not sure where that is anymore. Things I deal with now on a daily basis would have been unimaginable even for an hour just a few years ago.

I know people don’t understand. I met someone here in Delhi, an Indian guy living abroad, but here for a brief period for work. He doesn’t get it at all. We would have long discussions about it and I would find myself at something of a loss to explain it. He hates being in India. It makes him miserable. He can’t understand why I would choose to live here. I know most people who know me wonder the same thing, especially after reading some of the stuff that comes my way. I often ask myself what I am doing here. I wonder if it would not be better, easier, more relaxed, if I lived back in Europe or the US. But for some reason I stay. I have stopped trying to explain it. I have stopped trying to analyze it. I am just going to let it be and when the time comes to make a change, I will do it.

But for now, there is Thailand. There is adventure. There are temples to see, people to meet, elephants to ride and lots of stories yet to be written.

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