That’s it, the dream is over.
We head back home shortly, back to the daily grind, back to the deadlines, the bills and the stress.
But before we go we have one last lap around the steamy old streets of Bangkok.
This time it doesn’t seem quite as hot or as frantic as it did all those months ago, not quite as big or as hard to understand, it’s still hot and weird, but not as hot or as weird as before and a kind of melancholic inevitability has settled down over us.
Since we first arrived here in Bangkok on our adventure all those months ago the time has slipped by, skipping by out the window while we weren’t watching.
And while it was skipping out the window we’ve both grown a year older, we’ve gained a beautiful new member to our family, (hello Willow) and it seems like the right time now to pack up one more time and head off, a little older, a little wiser, and with a lot of memories packed away for a day of quiet contemplation somewhere down the road.
Has it been worth it?
We think so, the sights we’ve seen, the train trips, the people, the beaches, the massages, the amazing food, the scooter days, the bicycle days, the flights, the hotels, the bars, the restaurants, the long aimless walks, the sleeping in, the wildlife, the surprises, the Taj on a misty dawn, the silent monks on the streets of Luang Prabang, the quiet reflection of the river Kwai, dodging cars and bikes to cross the streets, the humidity, the pools, yes, it’s all been worth it
And so this will be the last post for the time being, one last collection of random photos of the day, one more wander around the neighborhood. The following are all from our last couple of days here in Bangkok.
We’ve never done a blog before and we were lucky enough to be featured by wordpress early on as a freshly pressed blog, and that unexpectedly bought us many followers and because of that we feel we’ve connected with people from many walks of life.
So a big thank you to all of you who came along for the ride, we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. And enjoy it we have.
Some of our favorites have been the old tried and tested tourist favorites, Luanag Prabang in Laos with it’s quiet little streets and morning alms-giving ceremony will stay with us forever, and one day we hope to get back and spend some quality time at Big Brother Mouse again. Likewise the delightful little Vietnamese town of Hoi An, some would say it’s been ruined already and the charm is gone, and that may be true for the center of the old town that does indeed resemble a theme park, a “Vietnamville” if you like, but get a short distance from the center and it’s still a beautiful old traditional shopping and fishing town.
One of our favorite Thai towns turned out, unexpectedly, to be Hua Hin, Thailands Royal beach-side resort town a couple of hours south of Bangkok, not really what you would call off the beaten path, but a bit overlooked now with the rush to the islands and beyond for most. A quiet little spot, it’s heyday long past, the crowds have gone, the tourists are passing by but still plenty of hidden charms to keep the interest up.
And as an added bonus the town is surrounded by gentle rolling hills and even a vineyard.
Some places on the other hand we didn’t warm to at all, Phuket for one, and in particular the main town of Patong, the less said about that the better, a seedy grim den of grubby westerners who seem to think that because they’ve left their own country they can act as they please, it’s genuinely hideous and what the local Thai people must think of the behavior of their guests is anybody’s guess. Please avoid.
But many places we did warm to of course, good old Georgetown in Penang, the UNESCO pearl of the Orient, was one. When we first started the trip we realized we wouldn’t be able to maintain an interest and our mojo would run out pretty quickly if we moved on to somewhere new every few days.
We picked Georgetown as the place to sink some time into, to settle down and put some roots down, to stay in the old city and live like a local.
To try and get our head space into the South East Asian way of life. Not as easy to do as it is to say, but we gave it a good go, we tried shopping in the local markets, and doing a bit of cooking in our old town house we were living in while thoroughly exploring the island and her surrounding attractions.
The street food in that part of Malaysia is justly famous, and many people travel to Georgetown just to sample some of their specialties like the sour fish dish Assam Laksa. And while it, like many of their street food classics is certainly a powerful taste experience, we found it all to be a bit much after a while, their dishes heavy on the sweet and full of starch and sauces and soon we started longing for the fresh herb lightness of Thai and Vietnamese cuisines.
But that’s not to say we didn’t love some of the eating experiences available to anyone and everybody there in Malaysia, and we certainly have many fond memories of the home style restaurants on the streets of Georgetown.
We managed to squeeze in a number of cooking and other foodie things on our travels some that hit the spot and some that didn’t, a great cooking school in Sarawak, a walking tour of Kuala Lumpur, more cooking schools in Karon and Hoi An and a weird guide to eating in New Delhi, is there anything not weird in India though.
And there are many other highlights that spring to mind, too many to list, but favorites include Annie tearing up at her sight of the Taj Mahal that will live with me forever, precisely the reason for traveling, right there in one small moment. Watching a wild baby Orangutang swing down out of his tree in Borneo as the morning sun shone through his coat would be on the bucket list as well. The night on the vintage Vespa scooters in Ho Chi Minh city was great as well.
Small moments adding up to making up the day combine to create a wonderful travel experience, a bowl of soup in a small side street market, a shy smile from a novice monk, holding up traffic while we try and cross a busy road, children waving hello to us from the back of a tuk-tuk, priceless memories each and every one.
We’re finding it hard to come to grips now that it’s over, so much in the planning, so much in the timing and the day-dreaming all seems to now be suddenly over, we find ourselves saying ” when we come back” or ” next time we’re here”, we look for places to visit next time around, things we’ll do, dishes we’ll enjoy and hotels we’d love to stay in but who knows what’s down that road, only time will tell.
I’ve enjoyed the discipline of photography while we’ve been away and feel pretty proud of some of the “random photos of the day”, some, like here, I really like for the quirkiness and others for the more traditional feel, like these, and I like to think I’ll be able to keep up the discipline of actively going out to look for an image when we get home, again, only time will tell.
And so that’s it,
For now it’s good night and good bye.
All photos copyright Ross Duncan: firstname.lastname@example.org