Last year did not go completely as planned in terms of travel. I did not manage to get to Nepal for my godson’s birth, and now, it looks like I won’t in February either, and possibly not for a while. And Europe? That was a complete failure. My friend and I just could not coordinate our times, and ultimately did not see Europe.
However, I did go to Thailand. ICAAP 11 was fun, but the walks were even more fun. I spent more time exploring and sightseeing than at the conference, even after attending as many sessions as I wanted. Food, of course, was one of my biggest grievances, given I am a vegetarian. I had found excellent vegetarian food the first time around, but this time, I actually lost weight from the lack of food. Maybe it had something to do with the locale..
Language issues got all of us down, with us struggling to make everyone – from the organizers to the street hawkers – understand what we wanted. It is really surprising for me, and this was a sentiment shared by all my friends at ICAAP, that Thai people cannot understand/communicate in English. They have a booming business in tourism, and yet, English seems an alien tongue!
Thailand was made better for me through the friends I made, chief among them my roommate, a feisty and passionate Indian young woman, and a Pakistani we befriended, a gentle and funny young man. Both these people changed my life in ways neither understands as yet.
I came away with mixed feelings after one week. It definitely was not as good as my first trip there. But the hotel (Hotel Narai in Silom) was comfortable with good service, and a good (if repetitive) breakfast. The walks were beautiful, and even lengthy walks – which I am used to – were not tiring. Of course, one of the best things for me on any trip abroad away from the heat of South Asia is the cool climate, and Bangkok did not disappoint. The clashes did have some impact – especially on traffic, but I missed much of them.
All in all, a good experience, but could have been much much better.