I have never been the person to stick around at one place forever. As long as I can remember, I have always been lured by the promises of the foreign. A life without traveling is unimaginable to me. Just as well as a life without daily routine. The foreign is only foreign in contrast to the known. Traveling is only exciting for a change.
Some month ago, I spent a few days in Bangkok. Yet, I do not want to talk about the protests that were arising at that point and have grown to riots by now. I do not want to talk about them because I have nearly not witnessed them at all. Besides, I could have been in any other city of the world. New York, Tokio, Moscow – it wouldn’t have made any difference at that point. I had been traveling for four weeks, had visited three countries and slept in so many different beds I could nearly not count them anymore. I had covered thousands of kilometers in old buses on dusty roads. I was tired. Traveling for so long had left its marks.
I had great plans – but I didn’t put them into practice
Bangkok was meant to be the the grand finale of this tip. I had imagined my stay there several times. I had made a plan on how to see as much as possible in three days: I wanted to explore museums and temples. I wanted to spend my remaining money on the flourishing markets of the Thai capital. They say that you can buy everything that is produced in Asia on the streets of Bangkok. I was looking forward to delve into the thwarting nightlife and have a drink in as many rooftop bars as possible. Yet I didn’t put my plans into practice. For I was tired.
I left Bangkok after three days. I had taken some photos of the giant golden Buddha in the temple of Wat Pho and had enjoyed two cocktails in one of the numerous rooftop bars. I had been strolling through streets and shopping malls without aim and enthusiasm. Most of the time, I had spent at the hotel pool. I could have done that in any other city in the world.
What is the ultimate way of travel?
On my trip through Southeast Asia I met a lot of people who had been on the road for months already. The combination of sabbaticals with long term travel is not unusual anymore. On every tour and on every busride you take you’ll meet at least one personal traveling indefinitely. Many of those I met were sure they had found the ultimate way of travel. They wanted to see everything at once, as many countries and places as possible. But is it possible to accomplish that, crossing off all items on your bucket list at once? Will places still have an individual appeal? Or will they be drowned in the mass? When you are always on the road, you don’t compare new experiences to everyday life but to other, extraordinary experiences. Which will inevitably diminish the appreciation of the special.
After just one month of traveling the time had come for me to fly back home. As much as I like being on the road, I need to get back once in a while. I like seeing new things. I love meeting new people. And I need a culture shock once in a while. Yet I also need a familiar environment for a change, and an everyday life that helps me to embed my experiences of the foreign into context.
I need change. I could not be traveling forever.