So here I am. More than three years later I came back to the city where my first real solo backpacking trip started: Bangkok.
Much has happened since then. I did my exchange semester in Hong Kong, my internship in Cape Town, graduated from university and went to Switzerland to save up money for my next big trip. But it’s definitely not only about the places I went to but rather the experiences I made, the people I met, the adventures I had and the way I personally developed. Looking back I must say I probably have changed a lot during the past few years.
Therefore, I’m asking myself does Bangkok still feel the same to me than it did three years ago?
The answer is certainly no. I remember that big excitement when I first arrived here. The excitement of freedom, independence and adventure. Everything was new. It was like I had entered a secret world full of endless possibilites. Two months of travelling South-East-Asia was just ahead of me.
But with that excitement I also remember that feeling of being lost. I was travelling on my own, didn’t inform myself about the places that I could visit and didn’t really know how to get started. Where would I go? What would I do? Who would I meet?
Now, three years later, my arrival somehow just feels different. This time Bangkok is a city I come back to. A place which I already know and brings back so many memories. Memories of people, places, feelings and so much more. I also don’t feel lost anymore. By now I know what I’m looking for in life and on my journey as much as I know in which direction I want to move.
Last time Khaosan Road used to be my favourite place in Bangkok. Now it’s not anymore. I went back there for two nights and suddenly the music seemed too loud, the people too crazy, the salesmen too pushy and the whole vibe too fictitious. It felt like a staged world to me which was only set up to satisfy the needs and wants of backpackers and tourists. Certainly it did not feel like the real world anymore.
Please don’t get me wrong here. Of course a night or two on Khaosan Road can be a lot of fun. But somehow that’s just not what I’m looking for anymore. I often prefer that random food place around the corner over a fancy restaurant, a nice bar over a club, live music over charts, deep conversations over small talk and a relaxed afternoon over a rushed sightseeing tour.
So this time I felt that I experienced Bangkok differently. I tried to feel the vibe of the city better, wandered around the streets, made random turns whenever I felt like it, used public transportation, tried a wider variety of food, talked to locals and also took more time for myself. After three years it felt more like I was part of the everyday’s life in Bangkok instead of just a visitor.
I think it’s usually not the place that has changed but you.
Last but not least, did anyone ever have a similar experience when coming back to a place? Did you also feel like you had changed? I would love to hear about your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below.