Note: I entered a version of this story to the World Nomad’s travel writing competition in 2017. It’s been adapted and expanded on here. I’m hoping to publish more stories like this in the future. Share your thoughts in the comments!
Sometimes you have to just laugh at yourself. And that’s what I did. Snorting seawater out of my nose, I laughed at myself, deeply and heartily.
I never thought it would come to this.
Let me explain. It’s not that I look at teenagers and say “darn kids these days,” although sometimes I do think it. It mostly has to do with what is going on in my old hood in New York City. I’ve been living abroad for the past 4 years, and in that time, some things have changed.
This is turning me into something I didn’t think I would become (at least not this soon): a bitter old lady.
I got back onto United States soil 2 days ago, and I’m happy to be back despite all of the craziness of Trump. I was ready to be home again, and I was ready to be with family again. Really, I was ready for my trip to end, and I don’t feel bad about that.
It wasn’t that my trip was going badly. On the contrary, my trip was going as well as I could have hoped! I wasn’t running out of money, and I wasn’t getting tired of seeing new places. Wonder was still at least somewhat abundant, although I was starting to feel a little lackluster about some aspects of travel.
We had just seen all of Bangkok together at a fancy rooftop bar in a hotel downtown. Some of us got drinks, but I didn’t as I mostly just wanted the view and didn’t feel like overpaying for crappy imported beer or a fancy cocktail. Now we were in Bangkok’s Chinatown, seeking some street eats for the evening. The tables were in rows all the way down the street.
He came up to me and thanked me so graciously that I was taken aback. This has never happened before. Continue Reading
I’m going to be an aunt times two! Whoa!
My sister is about 3 months along with baby number 2! She is due in March 2016. This means I’ll have to plan a trip to go home to New York around that time. But this also means another little person is going to be in the back of my mind, nagging me to go home more often.
This is a recent photo of me and my nephew in New York:
How I’ve changed as a person
What I love about travel is that you challenge yourself. You can challenge your beliefs of what the world is like, what other people are like, and who you are. I’ve grown the most through traveling, and much of this has been because I’ve gotten to know myself better. Instead of floating through life living on a routine, travel has broken it up by giving me new experiences, exposing me to new cultures, and making new friends. It’s also forced me to think about what is important to me.
I’ve learned that I love being around different languages, and that I can be braver than I thought I could be.
Bangkok is changing very rapidly, just like any other major city in Asia. The interesting thing about Bangkok is that you’ll find areas that have become something entirely cosmopolitan overnight next to others that aren’t changing at the same rate (or at all).
Two sides, same coin
Two sides of a lightrail train station in central Bangkok
I feel like I almost got scammed. I was waiting to get on the ferry off of the island in Thailand to make my way back to Bangkok to catch a flight.
While sitting on a bench, a young white male comes up to me and starts talking to me. At first I don’t understand what he saying, partly because he has an accent and partly maybe because he was speaking quickly. He repeated himself, “Could you give me 100 baht for the ferry…”
My gut immediately refused him. I said I’m sorry but I don’t have any change. Sure, 100 Thai baht is little more than 3 US dollars, but I didn’t feel compelled to give this young white guy my money. Why should I when this person, just by luck of birth, has all the advantages in the world. Why should I, a young, poor, female, minority (in my country) student, give him, a young, seemingly healthy, white, man, my money?
Everyone’s a little bit racist, it’s just the way things happen to turn out in this world. But how little is that bit of me that is racist? Is it bigger than I like to think it is? Am I kidding myself that it is as small as I want others to think it is?
This came up when a few weeks ago I saw a childhood friend in New York City post something about her boyfriend who had passed away a year ago. My first thought was maybe he was shot.
Nope. It was cancer and an infection.
This thought came up so quickly and naturally, that it caught me by surprise. I felt ashamed that my immediate and uncensored thought was that he was involved with gangs or crime somehow and was shot. Am I really that racist? It’s a weird and scary realization to come to. What if I’m not as open minded as I think I am? What if I’m really not as good a person as I want to be?
Hugs are great! Give me hugs!!
More hugs please!
One thing I wish was different about Singapore is that friends hugged each other more often. This is just part of Singapore culture. When I went back to the USA for 3 months earlier this year, I really liked hugging friends again, either when we first saw each other or when we’re parting ways. It isn’t a big deal, but no one does that in Singapore.