Over the past 48 hours I have struggled to write a post about Bangkok, starting and stopping four or five times. After the first bomb went off at the Erawan Shrine I started receiving texts and private messages, “Are you still going to Bangkok?”, was the question everyone was asking. My answer, a resounding, “Yes”.
I’m not one to cancel travel plans because there’s trouble in my destination. It will take a lot more than a bombing, in a city that rarely sees this type of violence, to cancel my travel plans.
From what I’ve read online, and learned from friends living in and near Bangkok, life has not been disrupted. The city is on high alert, as it should be, but everything continues to run as normal. In other words, there is no reason to change my travel plans, no reason to avoid Bangkok or Thailand.
The acts of terrorism that occurred this week were most likely targeted at the government of Thailand, in an effort to make the city of Bangkok, and the country, look bad. It’s meant to scare the locals, as well as foreigners, and it’s working. Many tourists are cancelling their trips, or re-routing to avoid Bangkok completely.
It makes me sad.
I fell in love with Thailand five years ago. The Thai people are some of the kindest, most friendly people I know. I’ve had older men guide me to my guesthouse in the middle of the night when I was lost. My laundry lady in Chiang Mai use to come find me at the night market to tell me my laundry was ready for pick-up. I’ve had taxi drivers attempt to give me rapid fire Thai lessons while stuck in traffic, and joined hostel workers for a street side dinner at one of their favourite vendors.
Every time I return to Thailand, I spend time in Bangkok. I love spending a day exploring along the Chao Phraya river with my friend Peung (when we’re both in town), and going to Nana every week to buy shawarma from my favourite vendor. There are so many markets to explore, and stumbling onto a new one is always the highlight of my day. Chinatown holds a certain fascination with me, and sometimes escaping the heat by hanging out at Siam Paragon or Central shopping malls is a must. On really hot days I sometimes crave a McDonalds soft serve ice cream. Bangkok is not without its challenges. I’ve had more than my share of arguments with tuk tuk drivers who think I am gullible enough to believe that their crazy prices are normal. And I admit to hating Songkran (mind you, I was struggling a lot personally during that time and should have been somewhere else). Some have made comments about my weight, but for the most part I don’t acknowledge them, it’s not a Thai thing, it’s a human thing. It happens everywhere, I just choose to ignore the comments.
I have been looking forward to my return to Bangkok for weeks. I’ve packed my bag, and started counting down my days. I know where I’ll be staying, it’s a neighbourhood I frequent often. I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday in Bangkok, and exploring as many streets and canals as I can. I’ll be eating street food, checking out the food truck scene, and spending time with my expat, and Thai, friends.
I will travel the same way I always do, and I will be sharing my travels and adventures with all of you.