This was my first time traveling with friends, and I have to admit, I don't know how I ever did it alone! Having the support and company of two good people made me realize how valuable friendship is. We were able to push each other through the rough times (jet lag was a killer) and laugh at all the ridiculous stuff we saw. There were rough spots (I decided that I was just gonna go back to Chicago as soon as we landed in Bangkok because I couldn't get money out of the ATM.. which sounds a lot funnier than it was at the time..) and moments of total exhaustion, but waking up to the bustling sounds of Bangkok and then waking up to a pristine beach and calm gulf made everything totally worth it.
Going back was surreal for me. Not much has really changed, and as soon as I walked out of the airport it felt as though I never left. As I re-lived a lot of memories and walked down familiar paths, though, I realized that it was me who had changed. No longer was I the shy 20 year old girl who couldn't talk to anyone but instead spent all of her time reading at restaurants and on the buses. I wasn't intimidated by the other backpackers, and I was enjoying my time in this foreign country for what felt like the first time. It may have been because I have matured, but also because I've experienced the pain of missing something that I took for granted. Ever since I've left Asia, I have dreamt about it, almost went back several times, re-lived moments in my imagination and looked at my photos countless times.
Having gone back, I can safely say that I feel as if I have filled a void. I don't long for it anymore - I feel as if I've done what I needed to do and can continue on traveling to new places. So onward I shall go!
Now, here are some great photos that sum up our trip. (click for larger versions!)
tuk-tuk's in bangkok
view from our beach resort.. it's real!
Berna and her kitty
riding in the tuk-tuk!
coke in a bag!
on the sleeper train
Chinatown in Bangkok.. gotta love it!
defeated at the Bridge Over the River Kwai. We were dead from jet lag.
Waiting for the ferry to take us back to Bangkok :(