A couple of days ago, a friend told me that she was flying to Bangkok for just the weekend. I knew that this was her first trip out of the country, so I was confused on why would she do that for just a weekend? There was so much to Bangkok, that even after having spent 3 days just in that place, I left with a feeling that I should go back there again, which am going to do for sure, in future.
Her reasons were justified, she couldn’t plan one by herself and wanted to follow her friends when they were going. This didn’t reduce the confusion I had - How ON EARTH can you experience a place in just a weekend, especially if you keep yourself busy throughout the time there?
Bangkok was my first non-Indian-city to visit too. I was excited at my first international trip. I was 26, and chided myself at having gone anywhere out before - everyone I knew had traveled to a different country before. I was nervous as I boarded the flight by myself at the Hyd airport, was glad to find someone I knew at the airport, with whom I hitched a ride to the hotel , which thankfully happened to be the same for us both.
The nervous feeling lasted till the minute I reached Sheraton, and saw the note the husband left for me at the reception.
What followed next , I think, led the path to the wanderlust that will continue forever. The feeling before was because of peer comparison, despair not having any stamps on my passport or not having a funny story at a party when everyone is speaking about their foreign travels. The joy I felt at exploring this city on my own was something that I will never forget. And that I guess has made a lot of decisions I took later in my life.
I have not travelled a lot so far, but I do whatever I can whenever I can afford, and I can't complain. I do quite a bit of solo-exploring in every new city, and I have enjoyed every thrill I had during those explorations/adventures.
I was driven around Bangkok by a Tuk-tuk-wala without my permission and I didn’t even have a cellphone to call folks if I was in danger. I got lost in every city I visited there-after. Once or twice, I got hit-on by creepy guys in funny ways in some places and left wondering what about me must've made them think I'd be interested. I have been helped by some sweet-cops with my directions, and have been laughed at fellow tourists for my audacity to have trusted locals enough to do an odd adventure. I've had conversations with locals about their living, their expenses and their economy even in places where English is not their first language.
Every city I travelled, I've tried my best to experience every mode of transport possible in that place, and tried seeing patterns related to the city there. I've figured out my favorite places to eat or favorite things to do in almost every place, even in the very short durations I've spent there. Like I said, I haven't travelled all that much in terms of 'covering a place', but I've experienced a bit of the cities I visited.
And these I could do only because I didn’t rush. I spent time, a GOOD amount of time in every place I visited. We never went sight-seeing unless we explicitly told ourselves we'd be sight-seeing. There are some relaxing holidays (that’s what Goa is , for us. An annual pilgrimage so far!) . This , the husband loves. Sight-seeing, he hates, which is why I mask sight-seeing in other activities by calling it a heritage tour, or a history tour or some such fancy name.
And I never let myself get scared. And yes, I always travelled safe, even if it meant spending a lot of money in boarding alone. But then, you get some, you lose some, no?
As for Bangkok, I want to go back there again, to sample the much celebrated street-food scene there. I’ve used all modes of transport there, except their trains, so that’s on the list. The husband has talked fondly of the times he had beer at a road-side café, and I loved the ferry rides on Chao Praya. I just got a glimpse of the fast life on Sukhumvit area, and I wanna see more of that. And there are some hikes in Thailand that I've bookmarked , which am going to do.
And this has triggered a thought... may be I'll write about my experiences in each city I visited. Some day, soon.