Can you feel homesick for a foreign region?
After leaving Southeast Asia I missed it something terrible. I threw myself into my work and spent evenings hunched over my laptop researching travel in South America – more travel to remedy the itchy feet.
Eventually I forgot about the swirls of noise on a busy Bangkok street, the feeling of freedom I found in the movement of seeing a new city each week, and a blank schedule to do as I wished.
To quell the homesickness that had begun to sit heavy in my stomach I would medicate myself with some takeaway Thai food.
And just smelling that Pad Thai whisked me back to 2013, to sitting at an uneven plastic table in a non-descript restaurant in Chiang Mai. I could feel the sticky heat on my skin and the yearning for a mango smoothie. Those aromatic flavours held my most vivid memories from Thailand.
Funny enough, the heat did nothing to diminish my appetite, and my early morning walks around Chiang Mai were about spotting the most interesting restaurants to try and plan out my meals for the day.
Every night without fail, I would take a seat on a rather awkwardly low chair at an uneven plastic table. I often ordered Pad Thai off the hilariously misspelled menu and spent the evening swatting mosquitoes.
Usually my dinner would arrive just as my friends’ finished eating, sometimes the other way around, other times I’d find ants crawling into my food and I’d just pick them right out and continue eating. It was loud, but I loved the ambience and it was crowded, but I didn’t mind. I’d watch the backpackers heading out for a good night or the couples fawn over each other on honeymoon. Everybody loved the evenings in Thailand.
Today, I booked tickets for my third trip to Southeast Asia. The region has burrowed under my skin in the best way possible and I can’t wait to go back to Thailand, my favourite destination in the world. It seemed so basic at first, to have Thailand as my top choice over all the other far more interesting countries I’ve been to and when others ask me for my favourite I’ll often say, ‘Colombia!’ but in my heart of hearts I know it’s Thailand.