Tuesday, December 6, 2011

always leaving

it's a testament to our species' ability to adapt to our surroundings that we find ourselves a little sad each time we leave a new place. it's also a testament to just how many wonderful places there are to visit in this world.

serenity and calm. special price for you, $5.
bangkok, thailand.
without exception, we've felt a little sense of loss each time we've left a new town or city, regardless of country. well, maybe not dubrovnik, but that's complicated. still, one of the surprises on this trip is just how quickly we make ourselves at home. that initial rush of a few hours of disorientation upon arrival quickly washes away with a small walk around town, or down to the beach or wherever, just to get your bearings. over the next couple of days, places and people quickly become familiar.

as we were leaving the thai islands of the andaman sea last week (he shakes his head wistfully while typing) after nearly three weeks to visit friends in bangkok, we were struck with just how at home we felt. when we landed those three weeks earlier, it was an alien world. granted, an alien world full of palm trees, beaches, mango and papaya but still, after istanbul, definitely alien feeling!

we've been in bangkok just under a week and knowing we're leaving in a couple of days has us already a little melancholy. keep in mind, we're talking bangkok. not the smallest, most lovable place on the planet upon first impression but, like anywhere else, give it a little time, allow it to show you what it has to offer (and bangkok has a LOT to offer) and you feel at home.

of course, with all that leaving comes a lot of arriving. a complex set of emotions ranging from eagerness, excitement and piqued curiosity to disorientation and, sometimes, sheer bafflement. we've learned to embrace that rush.

"the best of relax place," indeed. anything you need, you can find in bangkok, thailand.

for us, it was sarajevo back in october that really taught us that lesson. arriving after hours on a train with a chain-smoking blowhard, completely shaking from the nicotine, stepping onto the platform and being surrounded by gray, communist era buildings, smog hanging low on the hills and apartments, and touts coming at us from all directions we thought "what have we done?" well, five days later, after having spent time walking around, hanging with fantastic people and fellow travelers, starting to understand the history and complex politics of the region, sipping bosnian coffee and just genuinely enjoying bosnian life, well, we felt sad to leave. suddenly, there seemed to be so much more we wanted out of sarajevo.

street side dumplings! so good. bangkok, thailand.
back to bangkok: an alien world if there ever was one. who doesn't like traffic, smog, noise and chaos? our flight from krabi took fifty minutes. our drive from the airport took an hour and a half! great first impression. we crept at 5 mph along six lane freeways just to drop to city streets and sit some more. yet, it now kind of feels like home and since we're leaving in a couple of days, we say goodbye to another new friend. bangkok.

next new friend? burma (myanmar). holy crap, we're going to burma! up until a couple of weeks ago we didn't know we were allowed to enter burma. we spent yesterday at the embassy of the republic of the union of myanmar buried down a side street  in bangkok. six hours and $80 later we were holding our myanmar visas next to a guy in line waving at us and saying "see you in yangon!"

can't WAIT to see what set of emotions will be whirling around when we touch down there. we'll report back.

myanmar visa. still hard to understand we have them.