There's Always Rediscovery in Bangkok


This last trip to Bangkok was supposed be a sort of vacation and for all intents and purposes, no discovery or exploration. The idea was to lock myself up in a swanky hotel and spend my mornings working out, my days writing things that had nothing to do with travel and my evenings seeing the many friends I’ve accumulated over my dozen previous visits to Thailand’s City of Angels.

But the possibility that this visit to Bangkok would go as planned flew out the window immediately. You see, while on a layover in Tokyo, I ran into JohnMark, an Austin friend of mine who had never previously, to my knowledge, been out the country. His final destination? Yep, you guessed it.

“I still can’t believe we’re both here,” he exclaimed the following afternoon, as we traipsed through the floating market at Amphawa, about 90 minutes west of Bangkok. “I mean, how serendipitous is this?”

Serendipitous or not, I still wanted to stick to my plan following our goodbye that evening after rooftop cocktails. It was nice to finally get there, I said, reflecting on the fact that I’d never previously been to a floating market. But tomorrow, you need to write—no more travel blogger behavior on this trip!

To be sure, I woke up at the crack of dawn and after a morning run through Lumphini Park and an hour at the gym, opened the text document of ideas and thought fragments I’d assembled before my trip, and started pouring out my head, stream-of-consciousness style.

My focus quickly waned, however, as I gazed out the window of my room toward the Bangkok skyline. I want to be out there, I sighed. I need to be out there.

“But what a minute,” you’re probably saying, scratching your head. “Isn’t Bangkok your favorite city in the world? And aren’t you, like, a travel blogger? Something’s amiss here and I don’t know what it is.”

A couple things, actually.

The strange thing about being a blogger is that while, on the surface, it affords one limitless opportunities for creative expression (namely writing), the truth is that a blog itself is a constrictive format, to say nothing of how the business of blogging can further strangle the development of ideas that don’t relate directly to said blog.

I knew I needed to escape temporarily, both from my “real life” in Austin and the business I’ve built discovering destinations that are new to me. I figured that Bangkok, a city I know better than any other place I’ve traveled, would be my best shot at being “away” without being distracted from writing by fanfare or novelty.

Indeed, my readers prefer when I discover new destinations, and not write about ones I’ve visited many times. In fact, some have been so bold as to email me directly and chide me for writing about Bangkok and Thailand as much as I do. Fear of additional such correspondence further motivated to me set the deliberate intention of not writing any blog posts or creating any social media content related to this trip.

But the truth is that Thailand—especially Bangkok—is my favorite place in the world. Frankly, as much as I enjoy getting to know places I’ve never been, I would be perfectly content traveling only to Thailand (and a few other destinations in Asia, particularly Japan) for the rest of my life—if I knew a good percentage of my readership wouldn’t evaporate in protest, that is.

And the truth is that amazing Thailand, as the marketing slogan goes, always amazes me. I was too inspired and stimulated during the week I just spent in and around Bangkok, exploring not only Amphawa Floating Market, but the provinces of Nakhon Prathom and Ratchaburi, to stay inside my fancy hotel and write. And I’m too pleased with photos I’ve taken not to share them here.

Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who's been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as "CNNGo" and "Shanghaiist" along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.
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