It’s weird being away from ‘home’ for so long. Yes, only 7 months…but its a bit different to be travelling for such a period versus living abroad. When you’re living somewhere for even a week never mind months you establish relationships, favourite places, find good deals, and your favourite smoothie lady.
When I think of Canada it’s hard to think of what home I miss…obviously I miss my family and friends, but as far as the environment I don’t really miss much. I lived away for uni, so Calgary where I spent 18 years growing up doesn’t even seem familiar…I’m just that ‘old’ lady who remembers each club by what they were called 5 years ago when I had my fake ID. As for Edmonton, my life was greatly influenced by school but moreso by my workplace…with both of those relationships being done it’s hard to know what life would be like anyway.
As I wait for 12 hours in Bangkok to catch my second consecutive night bus, I feel ‘home’. I don’t know anyone here…I do have a fave smoothie lady though…but somehow Khao San Road and the live music cafes on Rambuttri are same same but different. The pad thais are selling for 5 baht more than my adventures in Bangkok a short 2 months ago, but the wifi passwords are still the same, and Backstreet boys is still the most played band (along with an asian cover of wonderwall–obviously).
It has reminded me what home is like …in the environmental sense…the sense of knowing where things are, how much they should cost, and most satisfyingly not being convinced into taking a taxi from the independence monument to Khao san (2 minute walk). Its a bit depressing in a way, as I’ve realized I probably ‘know’ Bangkok better than any city in Canada.
I will say though, that its almost a little victory of travelling…to return to somewhere you ‘know’. Helping fresh faced backpackers just arriving in Asia. Not price comparing fruit shakes. Just being comfortable…being able to walk somewhere and know that I’m going to get where I’m going, how long it will take, that it actually exists, and is open is a luxury I haven’t had in quite some time.
It was a bit familiar when returning back to Phnom Penh multiple times while taking side trips in Cambodia, but I haven’t had this sense of belonging and attachment to a place since my lay over in Sydney over 3 months ago. It makes you feel a bit accomplished, though…and it reminds me of one of they future joys of travel. As much change as I can observe from the last 2 months…imagine the evolution in years. I can’t wait to come back to these places and see what they become, and be able to say “I was in SE Asia when there were different visas and currencies” just as my mom can say the same about Europe. In such developing nations change is happening tenfold to what we experience in the West. It is a gift to be able to see all of these places and then to be able to come back and celebrate the advancements from the price of fake ray bans to road rules.
I feel more comfortable looking right-left-right for traffic, sabadee-kaa comes out of my mouth without processing, and even though its equally as hot here as Chiang Mai I feel more acclimatized even to the weather. I trust people (maybe with naive lenses) and am at ease. I’ve calmed down. It is amazing what not having to be on your toes for even 12 hours can do for mental health. Even the bus ride, I slept for 10 full hours because I had no stresses about where I was going. So, Thank you Bangkok for being a little different but mostly same same…I needed it.