time to go
After 3 quick weeks in northern Thailand I'm already back in Bangkok packing my bags and preparing to leave for the last time. I am flying home to America the day after tomorrow after seven months in Southeast Asia. I can't even get my head around the fact that I'm going home. I've been gone for so long it just doesn't feel real. I can't imagine myself not living out of a backpack, staying in each place for less than a week. Part of me is excited, I can't wait to see my friends and my family and I have a lot of exciting things to look forward to this summer. The other part of me is sad. The experiences of the past seven months have been life changing and I'm anticipating some major culture shock when I get back.
This morning I checked out of the guest house where I had been staying in Chiang Mai. The lovely Thai woman behind the desk gave me a big hug and told me twice that she loved me and was going to miss me. I stayed there for 4 nights. This genuine kindness is typical throughout all of SEA and is what I love most about this part of the world. Yes the scenery is stunning and the food is delicious but the real story of Southeast Asia lies within the people. Never in my 25 years on this earth have I met more generous, warm, and friendly people. I have not once felt unsafe here, something I can't say is true even at home. There is a gentleness amongst the people here that just doesn't exist in the western world. We are too focused on work, money, and status that we have completely distracted ourselves from actually enjoying our lives. We spend our entire lives working so that if and when we make it to 65, then we can enjoy ourselves. But the purpose of life is to live. I know for me, it is not meant to be lived in one place or doing one thing. I have confirmed what I already knew, the American Dream is not my dream. I will forever value new sights, smells, and sounds over a new car or money in the bank. I appreciate the luxuries that home has to offer but I recognize that they are just that: luxuries. They are not necessities. While I am looking forward to a full wardrobe and my own bedroom, I know it won't be long before my feet are itchy and I'm ready to carry my life on my back again.
Although I don't feel ready to go home at all, I have tried unsuccessfully 3 times to refund my ticket and it looks like it isn't meant to be. So in 2 days I'm flying across the globe and settling down on Cape Cod for a few months of summer while I plan my next adventure. I'm not quite willing to give up this lifestyle and I am fortunate enough to have a home on a beautiful island where I can continue to live laid back and care free all the while making and saving enough money so that the second the temperature drops I can be on an airplane.
I often get overwhelmed thinking about all of the places I want to go. I know that I have plenty of time to go everywhere but my western mind wants instant gratification; I want to go everywhere now! Before I left home I thought that this trip would get the travel bug out of my system and I'd be ready to return home and resume "real life"- get a job, get an apartment, etc. I didn't even plan to be gone very long, I figured 3 months would be my max. But here I am, over half a year later and still trying to come up with excuses for the airline to change my flight. It seems wanderlust is in my blood and it isn't going anywhere. The question is, where am I going?! I guess I've got a few months to figure it out..
Asia has been nothing I expected and everything I needed. I am going to miss this place so much. Reading back through all of my posts I notice a very evident theme, gratitude. Traveling to 7 different third world countries opened my eyes to a different type of living. I have been constantly reminded of how fortunate I am to live a life full of opportunities and I intend to take advantage of them. I am so grateful for these past months, for all of the amazing people I have met, places I have seen, and things I have done. It has been the greatest adventure and I'm excited to see what life has in store for me next.
America, here I come!