Traveling is not an endless joyride of euphoria. Instead, there are times when you get tired of moving around. I had one of those phases, but then Thailand brought back my travel spirit.
When you focus on the small details, it’s easy to skip parts of the big picture. While I’ve been writing about all the countries I’ve visited, I haven’t talked so much about the mental side of travel. And truth be told, I was a bit tired of traveling for some time.
Instead of dealing with the feeling, I just tried to ignore my worries. That didn’t work out. Luckily, I got my travel spirit back in Thailand, and I believe I learned my lesson.
Paint it Black (or White Is Fine, Too)
My first impression of Bangkok was vital. I was expecting another Delhi or Dhaka – a poor and overcrowded Asian capital with dirt and trash everywhere. Instead, I was welcomed by a surprisingly urban metropolis with skyscrapers, Skytrains and recognizable international brands.
I really liked Bangkok. It was just what I needed at that point. The public transport made moving around easy, the supermarkets were well-supplied and there were many good restaurants available. Most importantly, Bangkok has plenty of beautiful parks. As I sat on a park bench away from the traffic, I felt relaxed.
I also happened to arrive in Bangkok during a very special occasion. The King of Thailand had died just a week earlier, aged 88. King Bhumibol had ruled Thailand for 70 years. His death was massive news in Thailand, and the effects were impossible to miss.
During the 30 day mourning period, all locals wore either black and white. Public areas were full of homages for the late king. Websites, including Google and YouTube, had changed their logos to black and white. And while television programs were not completely colourless, the colors were digitally diminished to suit the national mood.
I stayed in Thailand during a very historical period. The occasion reminded me that such incredible events even exist. Moving around, I got the sense that I was witnessing something completely unique. Although colours disappeared from my surroundings, my mood was brightening up.
Learning My Lesson
Besides the special occasion I had other great experiences that made me feel happy. From Bangkok, I went to the island of Koh Samet. While the place is very touristy, it didn’t matter when I found almost empty beaches where I could swim in the ocean. I also stayed with absolutely amazing CouchSurfing hosts in Bangkok during my last two nights.
But why had I grown tired of travel before Thailand? I’ve been thinking about it lately, and there are many reasons. Most importantly, I believe I started to crave too much for things that I don’t have right now. Instead of focusing on my trip and current life, I wished for things I could only have once my trip was over. At the same time, I had grown habits that I didn’t really enjoy, but I didn’t do much to change them.
I had developed a minor case of the traveler’s blues (for a great blog post about the subject, read “How to Survive a Case of Travellers Blues” from the blog Travelling the World Solo). I felt lonely, overworked and aimless. I wasn’t seriously depressed, but I wasn’t feeling as good as I wanted, either.
The situation worked as a great wake-up call. Now, I’ve started a sort of a “personal happiness project”. I’m thinking about the things that are bugging me, and I’m working actively to change them for something better. I’m also paying more attention to the positive events in my life. When I’ve stopped to really think about my current life on the road, I’ve come to realize how much I like it.
There’s no other place I’d rather be right now.