I left Thailand almost two years ago during the height of the Covid pandemic, and it was easily the most unceremonious departure I ever had from a location. There was no friends saying farewell; we didn’t have to drop off keys to a landlord; and our cab to the airport arrived a little early, so we rushed out the door without really saying goodbye to the place where we had lived for over two years. I did not know if I was ever going to get to come back to this part of the world, and at the time of departure, I did not know if I really wanted to come back. It had been a hard couple of years as we were stuck in a small house on the outskirts of Bangkok. The friends we had made had already left at the first chance they could so go back to a home they hadn’t been to in two years. In the end, it felt more like an evacuation than a goodbye.
When I was given the opportunity with my current school to come back to the region to a place that I wanted to travel to but couldn’t because of the pandemic, Vietnam, I was excited. I thought that I was done with the region, but as this trip loomed closer, I started to think back to the things I loved about this part of the world, the food, the people, and the culture. It is easy to dismiss a part of the world if you have a bad association with it. Sometimes that association is justified, but sometimes, it comes from something that was out of your control, and that association is not really about that part of the world, but instead that other thing.
Even though I was eager to leave Thailand, I now have a different perspective on the region. I am looking forward to exploring Vietnam again. I know its culture is different from that of its close neighbor, but I feel like I have come back to a place of the world I really do enjoy, so over the next couple of days, join me as I come back to Southeast Asia.