Back Home

Bangkok the city of lightsI’ve been back home for over a week now. After two months in Europe, I’ve come back to my friends, good drinks, Cheap Charlie’s, amazing food, great weather, and chaotic excitement. Yes, I’ve come back to Bangkok. Though born and raised in Boston, I consider Bangkok home now. When people ask me where I live, I usually say Bangkok, even though I really consider myself homeless, since there’s no apartment waiting for me anywhere in the world. Such is the life of a nomad!

They say home is where the heart is and while Boston is always “home,” it’s more the place I was born and raised. As we grow older and mature, we change, and sometimes the place we grew up in doesn’t change with us. I’ve already written about the joys and downsides of coming back to where you were born, so I won’t delve into that here.

But for me, one of the best parts about exploring the world is seeing all the new places you realize you could call home. I’ve come across many places where I’ve thought, “yeah, I could live here.” (The most recent being Stockholm.) I love that, because it makes me realize that home isn’t one place in the world. It’s not one set location. It doesn’t have to be the place you grew up in. It’s the place where the energy and vibe matches your own.

Bangkok the city of lightsThailand is that for me. Living in Bangkok has taught me a lot. I love so many things here: the street food, the chaos of the streets, the traffic, the outdoor vendors, the fact that every night of the week is some new social event, that there’s a place where everybody knows your name. (The expat bar Cheap Charlie’s. Everyone goes there!)

A lot of times people back home get a bit annoyed when I say “Bangkok is home,” as though it somehow cheapens Boston or my friends. Boston is still one of my favorite cities in the world, and I always encourage people to go visit. There’s nothing better than Boston in the fall, eating out on Newbury Street, or hanging on the Charles River in the summer. But going back home reminds me how much I’ve changed and how much Boston hasn’t.

Stockholm, Paris, Amsterdam—these are the cities I see myself in now. These are the next new opportunities for me. They’re where home could be. But for now, when I think of home, I think of Bangkok. For the whole week leading up to my flight, all I could think about was the city, the country, the tropical islands.

And now I’m back for too short a time. On December 3, I go to New Zealand. Two and a half weeks away. In Thailand, that time just flies by. There’s a lot to do before then, and while I won’t be sad leaving the city to explore the world, I already look forward to coming back.

For more information on Thailand, visit my Thailand travel guide and Bangkok city guide.

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  1. I like this post. Like you I often feel that travel is about imagining new lives for ourselves in different places. There are definitely some cities/countries where it is easier to do this than others. For me, Paris always feels like home. So does Vermont. London? Rome? New York? Not so much.

    I would love to visit Bangkok some day – hope you enjoy being back.

  2. Before we left on our travels this year we sold most of our belongings and gave away our beautiful rent-controlled apartment in Los Angeles. We hope that everything we see and experience will help us find a new place to put down some roots. Amusingly, we seem to be addicted to the “B’s:” first Barcelona, then Budapest and Berlin. We’re smitten with each of them. This week we’re in Beijing. It’s a bit cold for two travelers without down parkas, but our hearts are still warming to the city quite nicely.
    I like your thoughts on this subject a lot, and I’m glad that you’ve found a place that’s gotten under your skin enough to become “home.” I hope we can say the same some day soon!

  3. Love your commment here: “I’ve come across many places where I have thought ‘yeah, I could live here.’ (The most recent being Stockholm.) I love that because it makes me realize that home is not one place in the world. It’s not one set location. It doesn’t have to be the place you grew up in. It’s the place where the energy and vibe matches your own.”

    I’ve done the same–many times. I agree about the energy and vibe.

    All my best,

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more about Bangkok. It is the first place I’ve been two twice abroad (discounting Calais), it gets a horrible reputation for sex tourism in this country, but underneath it’s one place I’ve truly walked around smiling in.

    Wonderful city :)

  5. Not too long ago, I moved back home, to my home country, after almost 10 years abroad and that inspired me to write a post (on the portuguese blog, but will post on the english blog soon) about where home is. Every place I´ve spent a considerable amount of time has been home. I know exactly the feeling of pinpointing to several cities at home, yet know where you grew up will always be home. I guess that´s one of the reasons I started a blog – I needed yet another place to call home. 😉
    Great post!

  6. Forest

    I know exactly how you feel. Whenever I end up in Italy, everything just feels… right. The culture, the history, the amazing foods :)

    I love the evening passeggiatta, the entire town out and about for an evening stroll.

    Your posts consistently remind me that I’m bitten hard by the travel bug!

  7. “As we grow older and mature, we change and sometimes the place we grew up in doesn’t change with us.” — not just the place, but travelers like me do outgrow old friends and sometimes i just don;t know why im still hanging out with them.

    After living for five years in Singapore, I came back to the city of my birth – in Manila. I never considered Singapore my home, but I also feel an like an outsider in Manila. I guess I’m still in the process of finding my home….

  8. Hey Matt, just wondering is there a way to get a longer visa than one month or do you have to leave the country every month?

    When you did live there and worked, did you get a work visa?


  9. I completely understand what you mean by feeling that Bangkok is home. We haven’t spent nearly as much time there as you and we don’t have a network of friends there, but we’ve transited through at least 10 times and have spent three Christmases there. Each time we arrive now, we relax – it feels like home to us as well. We stay in the same hotel and we know our neighborhood – where to get morning dim sum, where to get the best street pad thai, where to get the best Thai coffee, where to find wifi, etc. Now I’m getting “homesick”! Enjoy your time back home!

  10. Sharon Hurley Hall

    I know this feeling well. I moved back to the Caribbean, which was once my home in 2006 but for a long time kept thinking of the UK as my home. In truth, I have two homes (mentally, if not physically) – one there and one here, as well as a number of other places where I feel at home and would be happy to live.

  11. Boston’s been my home for a while now even though I wasn’t born or raised here (it’s where I’ve spent my adult life so far). But not for long!

    I’m leaving for a RTW trip where I’m planning on ending up in Australia to make that my new home. Your story of making Bangkok your home makes me excited to think I can make anywhere my home. Thanks!

  12. Ann-Mary

    Hey Matt! I just discovered your blog, and must say, it’s a pleasure to read.
    I just had one question though, as I found this article in the Asia section. I couldn’t help but notice, looking at your list of countries, you have never been to India ? Is there any particular reason for that ?
    Just came back from spending 6 months there, and it was an amazing humane and eye-friendly experience! Loved it.

    • NomadicMatt

      I just haven’t made it there yet. I don’t have a super strong desire to go there. I’ll get there eventually but there’s some other places I want to see first.

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