I’m back in Bangkok. I know. I know. Didn’t I just leave? Wasn’t I just living in Taipei? A lot of things can change really quickly. I’ve been here two weeks, and despite my desire to be productive, that hasn’t happened yet. I made the mistake of staying right near the best and most popular hangout in Bangkok (at least for my friends)—Cheap Charlies. I’ve been staying at Suk 11 right across the street. If you’re in Bangkok and looking for a hostel that’s affordable, centrally located, and clean, this is the place to be. It’s one of the nicest places I’ve stayed. It’s made of teak wood and there are a lot of plants all around, creating a nice, natural feeling in a city that doesn’t feel natural at all.
Since it’s right near my favorite watering hole, I found myself coming home from dinner each night and being constantly dragged in for a drink by my friends. There have been three holidays in Thailand in the last two weeks, so a lot of people have been taking time off, and the bar’s been bursting with people each night. Last night’s going-away party only added to the madness. One drink easily turns into three or four, which usually lands me back in my bed around 4 am.
Taiwan lacked a lot of things I like about places in Asia: a good nightlife, pirated movies, good, cheap street food, and lots of tropical islands to visit. I’ve gone through about 10 movies this week alone. I’ve been eating Thai street food every chance I get. I’ve really missed it, especially the pork noodle soup that can only be found in the street stalls of the country. It’s succulent pork and fresh noodles are my mainstay for a quick, cheap, and filling meal. I’ve been visiting my favorite restaurants and catching up with old friends.
Being back in Bangkok has made me realize how much I love it and how I’ll never be able to fully leave. From the second I stepped off the plane, I felt as though I was home. The craziness, the smells, the crowds, the traffic, the pollution, the street food – it was all so comforting and exciting.
Bangkok is like that for us all. It grips you and you can never fully leave. You can escape for short periods of time, but you’ll always be back. There’s something addictive about this city. Maybe it’s the pollution in the air, but whatever it is, you can’t leave. My friend Natalie left a year ago and has been back about seven times since. My friends tell me now they will no longer come to my going-away parties because they know I will come back in a few months.
Lots of cities you live in and love and return to visit, but I feel that with Bangkok, people return more often. I actually feel that way about Thailand in general. Everyone I meet who’s been here can’t wait to come back, and they usually do. This city just grabs you and sucks you in.
Bangkok is a vortex and if you stay here long enough, you can get sucked in and never leave. Everyone I know who’s been here longer than two or three years says they’ll never leave. They just can’t cope with living anywhere else. The craziness of the city is unique, and once you’re used to it, nowhere else compares.
In January, I closed the chapter on living in Bangkok long term. More than a few months here, and I feel lost and too sucked into that vortex. But being back here feels like coming home and like taking a hit of some powerful stuff. And like any good addict, I can’t be away from my drug too long. Anything longer than a few months, and I go through serious withdrawal.
Coming back here, though usually bad for my liver, recharges my batteries. And with this visit, I realized that no matter how far I go, no matter where I go, no matter how much I try to escape, Bangkok will always have a hold on me. And I’ll return to it to get my fix.
Some people live in cities and move on and never return. Not me. I’ll never be free of this city.
But, then again, I never want to be.
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