I have been back from Thailand for nearly a month now and have not written a single word about the trip....why do I call myself a blogger? I blame my negligence on a number of factors, the first being the amount of time needed to mentally process such a world-wind trip to an incredibly fascinating foreign culture. The second factor came into play immediately upon return, the combination of extreme jet-lag with a terrible cold with a seemingly endless list of people wanting to hear about how the trip had gone. I became dismayed at what soon developed into an automatic and calculated response to questions about my voyage. In short, the conversations soon morphed into, yes the flights were long, yes the trip was short, absolutely I want to go back....as soon as possible, which of course will never be soon enough.
However, now that a significant amount of time has passed, I've amassed a wonderful collection of colorful photos, and the questions have subsided, I have finally been able to take a step back and really reflect on my short time traveling this summer. I've come to realize, though, that Thailand is one of those places that can never really be summed up in text (or photographs or video for that matter). Rather it truly is a place one must experience to understand and grasp.
I spent time in both Bangkok, a booming Asian hub, and Chiang Mai, a quieter, slower, Northern mountain town. I found that these two cities could not have been more different, while at the same time sharing all of the quintessentially Thai traits, customs, and nessesities. Rather than delve into any specific details or experiences at this time, I will leave you with a few impressions of these towns and the culture shock that is Thailand.
Let's start with Bangkok....a booming representation of the dichotomy between old and new. An intruiging mixture of old world customs and innovative modern technology. An intersection of poverty and high-class. A clash of a dense, fast-paced lifestyle and a heavily congested sea of pollution. A seemingly non-stop stimulation of senses. One of my favorite recollections of reflecting en route was realizing that at any given moment, each of my five senses were being bombarded by the activity unfolding around me. The hot air clung to my skin. The chatter of a language I had no hope of understanding filled my ears. The smell that at times made me want to run away, and at others made me instantly seek out the origin of the sweet fragrance, hung heavy in the air. The taste of each spice and sweet fruit made me long to eat my way through the entire city. Then of course there were the sights. Again, I find these nearly impossible to capture in picture or word. The grand palace itself was a visual overload. As we walked into the area, one of my companions stepped back and remarked, "I feel like a gold disco ball just exploded in front of my eyes". Whether or not this metaphor is a reverent description of a highly respected and powerful symbol of the history of Thailand, it fairly accuratly describes what we were all thinking at the moment.
Every single place I traveled in Thailand provided a pleasing, if at times overwhelming, calidoscope of color. If I take anything away from this trip, it's that there is always more to want, to feel, to have, to need....and Thailand is a physical representation of this vast expanse. I will continue to elaborate on specific aspects of the trip as time progresses, yet, right now, nearly a month after my return, I can still only manage a series of broken sentences and train of thought
ramblings as an attempt to piece together a semblance of explanation about my Thailand experience. Yet, perhaps that is exactly the way to describe such a place. Thailand is vast, fascinating, and mysterious.....how can one categorize such a country without taking away from the very aspect that gives it its magical intruige? I may never truely understand or be able to describe Thailand, but perhaps this is the exact reason I never want to give up trying.