Because Sometimes You Don’t Realize It’s Love Until It’s Gone

Sometimes you don't know love until it's gone. A look at returning to Thailand, a former home, after being gone. A personal essay on loving a place and leaving.
My heart races as the cab driver pulls up to the International Terminal at Madrid. I’ve been here before, but this time, it’s different. This time, I’m not hopping on a short flight to London, or heading to the States to procure my Spanish Visa. This time, I’m going back to Thailand. The longest place I have called “home” in what seems like a lifetime.

I stand outside, looking at the cloudless blue sky and the barren hills which line the airport.

In 20 hours, my view will be a tropical paradise.

I’ve flown in and out of Bangkok more than any other airport in the world, and yet, on this occasion, I’m not flying to my moat-encircled city in the north of the country. I’m not returning to my Thai house. To the elephants. I’m heading to Thailand to speak at an event, and with that comes a tidal wave of raw emotions.

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Cities Less Travelled: The Markets of Bangkok

There’s a reason Bangkok is one of the world’s hottest cities. From the amazing food, culture, nightlife, and historic attractions to the incredible markets and hotels in Bangkok that cater to all budgets, there is something that attracts people of all ages to the Big Mango (yes, that is its nickname).

If there is one thing I love to do in Thailand, it is shopping. For starters, I find some incredible items (think jewelry, bags, vintage items, and clothes) for far less money than I would spend anywhere else in the world for the same things. While I spent most of my time living in Chiang Mai as an expat, I definitely got down to Bangkok to spend some baht.

What markets are worth the exploration? Get ready to get your shopping on in some of the best markets of Bangkok!

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‘Twas the night before Europe

“You won’t make it a month …”

Those ominous words echo in my mind, 12 years after I took my first longer-than-a-vacation jaunt to Europe. People were actually rooting for my failure. My lack of ability to travel solo for any length of time.

They were right. I didn’t make it a month. But, not because I couldn’t travel that long, but because I was in a place in my life where I had no business traveling. I was escaping and using a month in Europe as that ditch plan. Needless to say, when the sole purpose of a trip is to run, it doesn’t work out well.

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Daily Wanderlust: the streets of Bangkok

Despite the protests and travel warnings coming from many countries about Bangkok, I headed down south to the capital the other day for some family time.

As someone who comes to the city quite regularly — mostly for work since I have yet to really fall in love with what other see from this massive sprawl of skyscrapers and elevated highways and trains — there wasn’t much different, even with the political turmoil.

The same little street stalls crowded the sidewalks, the same trains rushed back and forth, packed with people … nothing really seemed different.

Until I heard the booming voice over a speaker. A protest. And, until I saw a large tent city erected by the water. And, the massive traffic that was pretty much halted on Sukhumvit.

Did I ever feel like my life was in danger? Nope. Not once.

Did I go near the protests? Not a chance.

But, would I return to Bangkok, even with what is going on? Absolutely.

There’s something about escaping from Chiang Mai and being in a big city that sends my blood pulsing and opens my eyes to wonder … and reminds me life exists very differently in other parts of Thailand.

This traffic? I’ve never seen anything like it in Chiang Mai!

A crowded street in Bangkok

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Life is a dream at Dream Hotel

For someone that has only stayed in one hotel in Bangkok, and no idea where anything is, deciding on a hotel to find in the massive city can be … oh … just a tad overwhelming.

So, I simply go to Agoda to research hotels.

Given that this trip to BKK — and my escaping Chiang Mai —  is a must for my sanity, I decide my sanity is also in need of some posh indulgence.

That’s when I see the listing for Dream Hotel. Five stars. Excellent reviews. In the neighborhood I want.

Sold. Booked.

And, what a dream the hotel is.

Bangkok's Dream Hotel

The room

After breezing into Bangkok and hopping into a cab, my driver turns down Soi 15 in Sukhumvit and immediately I know Dream isn’t going to let me down. The sparkly, spin-y disco ball cube spinning in the middle of the driveway makes me smile. And, in this moment, I need to smile.

The lobby is swank, sleek … hip. And then, there’s the room.

My oh-so gorgeous room with blue mood lighting under the bed and on the wall. It oozes sexy.

Then, there’s the bed.

It speaks to me.

“D,” the fluffy white duvet whispers, “don’t I look amazing?”

“Put your head on me,” tease the pillows.

Compared to my apartment at Smith, this bed simply looks like heaven.

I toss my carry-on onto the little stand and immediately jump into the bed.

Holyshitmarshmallowgoodnessinasleepingapparatus.

This bed is heaven. Soft. Perfect. If I didn’t have a hair cut/color in two hours, and work to get done, I’d skip the entire day and just pass out.

Which I do later that night after dinner with friends.

Needless to say, the sleep I have is incredibly restful … and incredibly comfortable.

Dtravelsround at Dream Hotel in Bangkok

In the morning, I head down to breakfast in the restaurant and grab some food. While it’s lacking in vegetarian options, what I do manage to grab is good.

Then, it is off to the spa for some more ahhhh.

The spa

Because I book in early (before noon), I get a 1000 baht discount, which means the honey body scrub, oil massage and facial is only around 2000 baht AKA highway robbery in America.

In the spa, I disrobe and let my practitioner work the scrub into my dull skin. While it is super sticky (it is honey), the shower at the end of it leaves my skin feeling softer than a baby’s. Super soft. And, yeah, glowing.

Then, time for the massage.

I love massages in Thailand. LOVE. But, this? This isn’t a Thai massage. It is akin to my treatment in Bali at Grand Mirage … gorgeous.

I lay there as she rubs my muscles and try to get over my funk. To get over my rut. I repeat a mantra in my head for more than an hour as she massages my body and gives me a facial.

When the treatment is over, I feel like a new person. And, far happier than I was before. There’s something to be said for just letting yourself breathe.

The pool

Relaxed, I head across the street to Dream’s other location and up to the top floor to get some pool time on the roof deck. Immediately, I head to the bar and grab a white wine and sit back, getting lost in my own thoughts for a bit before I jump into the chilly waters. Once the initial shock of the cold subsides, I refuse to move another inch and just soak as I sit and laugh with my friends.

The bottom line

For the $74 I paid for a king bed each night, this place is perfect. Staff are great. Facilities are nice. Restaurant is a bit overpriced, but I didn’t even mind. This was my mini-vacation. As I leave back to Chiang Mai, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’m ready to go back home. At least for now.

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