After five weeks in India, where sensory overload is a daily occurrence, Thailand was a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong – I loved travelling through India – the best local encounters happened there. I have so many wonderful memories – they outweigh the negative aspects by far (noise, people trying to sell you stuff non-stop, Tuk Tuk drivers trying to rip you off etc.). But…
I fell in love with Bangkok right from the start.
Which seems to be quite odd – as whenever I speak to people about Bangkok, they raise an eyebrow and say: ‘I’m not a big fan of Bangkok. It’s too busy’. Hmmm. If you have travelled through India, Bangkok seems like the quietest place in the world! I actually enjoyed the peace and serenity of the place. I think this speaks for the Indian hustle and bustle. Bangkok reminded me a lot of London. As some of you may know: London was the first ever place I called HOME. I grew up in Switzerland, but as a half – Portuguese / half – Austrian girl, I always felt like a foreigner. Almost all of my friends back in Switzerland are ‘half-somethings’. But I never felt like it was my home. I always felt like I had no roots. London changed this.
Wandering through the busy streets of Bangkok, at whatever time of the day (including at night: don’t even think about doing this in India…), slurping one delicious bubble tea after another (obsessed!), eating gorgeous street food for next to nothing, taking the metro or Skytrain which is air-conditioned, all made me feel like I was in a place I could easily call home. I loved how clean Bangkok was (coming from India…). I loved how friendly the people were and how unnoticed you were as a tourist. It feels like you are one of them from the start. No endless staring.
No threatening looks (I feel like I’m naming and shaming India here…i’m not trying to. But I never said I could settle down somewhere in India – and this is what this RTW trip is all about for me – to find a place to grow roots). No aggressive bargaining. Respect for personal space. In my third month of travel, I was also dying to set foot in a supermarket (believe it or not – most cities we travelled through in India, have no supermarkets). Let alone, wander around in a big shopping mall for hours. It felt like I had a bit of a structured life.
The highlight of our stay in Bangkok, was to stay in a serviced apartment. Oh my word! Your own sofa, your own kitchen, your own washing machine. And the best bit about it all: an immensely comfortable bed! I slept so well…After weeks and weeks of sleeping on hard mattresses, I finally got to sleep on a proper mattress with comfy pillows and linen that smelled like roses. It was heaven. I also realised a lot about myself in Bangkok: I do like to have a bit of structure in my life.
Being on the road is fantastic – but I like slowing down for a while and just book myself into a place I can call my refuge for a few days or weeks. I also realised that I’m a slow traveller which I never thought I would be. I’m a restless soul and get bored very quickly. I’m always on the move and like to keep busy. Somehow, while travelling, which means I’m on the move perpetually, I like to take it a bit slower than usual. I wouldn’t want to hop from one country to the next just to increase my list of countries visited. I’m actually already looking forward to housesit in New Zealand in May. We will be housesitting at an equestrian property (Ben is a horse-rider and has loads of experience with horses) for a month. It will just be me and him, in the countryside near the New Zealand alps, a cat, two dogs to walk, a cosy fire to snuggle up in front when it’s cold outside. I cannot wait.
We celebrated Ben’s Birthday in Thailand and did something crazy: we went to see a ladyboy show. I think Ben is still traumatised from it – I loved it. It pushed us out of our comfort zone and we felt like we immersed ourselves into a part of Thailand which is so intricately part of it. Thailand is famous for its ladyboys. So why not meet them? We walked around at night, ate streetfood everyday, visited a cat cafe, went to a blues bar and had Burgers (which were to die for), drove around in a pimped up Tuk Tuk complete with subwoofer and disco lights, drank at Khao San Road, visited temples and slept incredibly well.
One thing that did catch my attention, in a negative way, was the masses amounts of advertisement everywhere in Bangkok. I sometimes felt like I was in a futuristic world. There were speakers blaring loud commercials in public places, in the train, metro, in malls. Everywhere.Even London, which has a lot of advertisement all over, is nowhere on the same scale as Bangkok. It almost felt like we were being brainwashed into buying products and spending money all the time. It actually worked. One day I saw an advertisement for a KFC bubblegum ice-cream cone. Few days later, when I passed a KFC, I went and bought one. I would be a marketing professional’s best friend. I did not like it.
I also missed local interactions. In India, almost everyone speaks English. It is very easy to speak to the locals. I have learned so much during my travels in Rajahstan – it is surreal. I have collected memoirs of amazing personalities – some of them have now become my friends. I find, there is no better way to learn something about a country, than by fully immersing yourself and that is by staying with locals and living their everyday life, asking them questions. In Bangkok, this was difficult. I almost could not uphold a conversation with locals because I don’t speak Thai and the ones I have met did not speak English. At least, this is the impression I got. I‘m craving to hear more stories from citizens that inspire me: to grow, to learn, to make new friends, to hear what the world has to say, to report and tell.