I hate leaving a new city. It doesn't matter how long I've been there, a few days or a few weeks. I always feel a sense of loss, like saying goodbye to an old friend. I so easily fall into daily habits in new places -finding a favourite coffee shop, seeing a local every morning waiting for the city bus, getting use to the city's smells, its sounds. It all so easily becomes every day that leaving all of a sudden seems more foreign than staying.
And so as I sit waiting to board ThaiAirways flight 106 to Chiang Mai I've been thinking about all the parts of Bangkok that I'm going to miss after my time here,
-- First and foremost is, traveling with the locals. There is something so exciting about feeling like I can do things like them . Cramming into the express boat at rush hour pressed against the rail being splashed with dirty water from the Chao Phraya or the mad scramble to fit into the train car on the BTS to Siam station, while so unpleasant in the moment, is a routine I am surprisingly sad to part from. Sure a taxi up town is only 45 baht (about $1.35 CAN), but traveling with the locals is so much more fun.
-- You must also, at least once, travel by Tuk Tuk. While mostly a means of transport for tourists, it was loads of fun. They are cute, colorful pocket size motor bike taxis. I had to continually remember to not let the size fool me, you can fit more people in them than you'd imagine.
-- Hunting for bargains, though not hard to find, is something that I imagine I will be able to do throughout all of Thailand. But there is a thrill in walking around a big city, having just left a mall so lavish that it has a white glove-wearing doorman and then walking a block down the street and finding a vendor selling goods for the price of pennies by our standards. Bangkok's Chatuchuk weekend market was my favourite place for bargain shopping. The market covers 27 acres housing over 8000 stalls. So feel free to spend a whole day lost in its alleyways of stores, just be ready for some mild heat stroke (stay hydrated!).
-- Counting the number of 7-11 on any given street became such a thrill. Trust me, if you saw how many there were you would understand my excitement. I know from now on, when I see a 7-11 at home I will smile and think of this city.
-- I will so badly miss the $10 half hour head massage, double shampoo and silky blow dry. Or the hour long foot massages for a similar $10 ticket price. Let me tell all my lady readers, this is the place to come to be pampered. There is nothing quite like it.
-- And the cherry on my time spent in Bangkok, tea at the Mandarin Oriental. The hotel was originally built in 1887 by a danish business man who opened the luxury hotel for fellow travelers and business men visiting Siam. The hotel gained a prominent reputation for its lavishness due to its second story and carpeted floors - features which at the time had only been seen in the royal palaces in Siam- . The hotel has kept its reputation as one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. Its rooms have housed their fair share of famous guests including Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana. Most noteworthy for me however is the hotels history in the lives of some of my favourite authors. The hotels only remaining original building is the author's wing, which served as a residence for writers including James Michener, John le Carre and a personal favourite, Harold Stevens, who I was lucky enough to spend some time with during my stay in the city. The tea was delicious and the atmosphere elegant and refreshing. A stroll through this historic hotel is a must during any visit to Bangkok.
Although I am sad to leave this lively and eclectic city, I am reminded that goodbyes are only easy if you never said hello in the first place, and are then a must for any traveller intent on seeing a new part of the world. But to make it easier, for now I will only say 'see you later Bangkok'.