From the moment my feet stepped outside of the airport doors I knew I was in trouble.
The sound of traffic grew louder, the smell of hot concrete grew stronger and the familiar heat swaddled me in its ever-sticky embrace. I had landed in Bangkok and I was in trouble because in mere minutes of stepping back onto Thai land, I realised just how much I had missed the sensory overload of Bangkok.
As I sit here writing this it’s 7pm on Sunday evening. I’ve been in Bangkok for precisely 37 hours and 15 minutes and this is the first time I’ve been able to sit down and decipher my thoughts. I’m doing so on my balcony, with my toes propped up on a nearby railing, my head leaning against the wall and my eyes gazing upon the same view that I spent a year of my life looking out upon.
A friend has kindly let me use one of his apartments and it just so happens that this apartment is in the same building that I used to live in. Seven floors up and nine apartments to the right of my old apartment to be exact.
It’s a strange feeling being back in the city that had such an impact on your life.
The week before I flew back I found myself wondering about what it would be like to be back. Would it have changed much? Would the BTS opposite my old apartment be nearer completion now that it’s been two years? Would the lady in the restaurant downstairs where I ate at least 5 times a week still be there? Would she even remember me? Bangkok was such a huge part in gaining confidence in my identity, that I wasn’t sure if I had looked upon the experience with rose-tinted glasses, and being back would make me realise that I’d kind of ‘been there, done that’ or whether it would be the polar opposite.
But in the mere 37 hours that I’ve been here I have the answer to my questions and I wish I could tell my 37 hour past self that; no it hasn’t changed much. WAHAHAHAHAHA as if the BTS would be finished by now (I’ve been gone two and a half years and the only thing which has changed is two more concrete bollards have been erected – in case you were wondering), yes the restaurant is still there and yes she remembers you. She remembers you so much that when you go into the restaurant to restart your Tom Yum Goong addiction, she will run across the hall with the world’s biggest smile to welcome you back. She will tell you that it’s been SO long and she’s happy to see you. Her smile will light up her face and when you realise that she means it, your heart will light up too.
And if I could speak to my 37-hour past self, I’d tell her that in 37 hours she’ll have a belly full of Tom Yum and she’ll be sat on a balcony, with her toes propped up on a nearby railing, her head leaning against the wall and her eyes gazing upon the same view that she spent a year of her life looking out upon.
And if she were to try and explain her feelings in that very moment, she wouldn’t be able to.
All she’d know is that it felt good to be back.