Yearning to Travel Abroad (Again)

Warm Sultry Night Breezes Awaken the Wanderlust Once More; There’s Still Much of Asia to See …

Kanchanaburi Clouds a la HDR #1
For the first time since I got back from 14 months in Southeast Asia – about three months ago to the day – I found myself missing it. I don’t mean missing the food or certain experiences or friends made there. I mean truly missing it, as in finding myself wishing I was back there.

While other people were barbecuing yesterday – there are few people left who actually celebrate Memorial Day weekend in the traditions of previous generations – I was perusing photographs of Thailand and Viet Nam and pricing flights on Travelocity. In the still of the small hours before dawn, lying in bed and not reading the book in my hands, a warm intermittent summer (like) breeze coming through the window, I kept waiting for the silence to be broken by the territorial bark of a gecko …

I think it may be the weather. For the first time since I’ve been back, it’s been hot, this Memorial Day Weekend – yes, I know, but here in the Midwest of America, we rock the traditional. It’s not summer yet, but it is; correspondingly the first cool weather here presaging autumn usually happens around Labor Day. And I should clarify: it wasn’t hot as in Southeast Asia hot – hotter than Africa hot, incidentally — not by a long shot (long shots being measured in amounts of 10 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent more humidity). But hot for this part of the world — cool for the part of the world pictured above.

Or, for an Ohio native who has been acclimated to Southeast Asia, comfortable. It’s rather ironic; this time last year I was living and working in Suphanburi, Thailand, a couple hours northwest of Bangkok and thinking there was no way I could ever get used to the heat.

And yet now that I’ve been back home for three months, having returned at the tail-end of winter, I realize just how acclimated to the weather I had become. Friends keep remarking about how hot it is, to which I just laugh, because I’m thinking: “Ah, how nice, it finally got warm.”

After a few winters on the 45th parallel, I’ve never complained since about snow or cold. After a year spent in Southeast Asia, I’ll never complain about the heat and humidity.

In fact, I’ve come to believe that anyone who complains about the weather at all is just silly – weather is what it is; it’s generally not a surprise. Either appreciate the climate for what it is or STFU and move; there’s really only these two choices in that regard.

But I digress, as is my wont. I think the warm weather reminded me of Southeast Asia in a way that nothing else has (perhaps nothing else could) since I’ve been back.

At least that’s part of it. Another part of it was boredom. For the first time since I’ve been back, I found myself bored yesterday, which is unusual in and of itself. But it was a long holiday weekend, friends were off doing traditional Memorial Day weekend things and the weather was warm, heralding the sticky summer to come. I found myself uninterested in my usual diversions and daydreaming about traveling again, specifically to Southeast Asia; there is a lot of it I have yet to see.

I’ll get to Angkor Wat in spite of my dumbass self, someday.

Beth Orton's Central Reservation: a great album to listen to while wandering across lonely, corn-cordoned highways at 3 a.m. on a sultry summer night.Upon reflection perhaps it wasn’t boredom so much as restlessness; the change of seasons always makes me restless. The passage of time – or, rather, awareness of it – always makes me antsy in a vague, quiet sort of way, almost subliminal or instinctive. Anxious for movement.

Time marches on and so must I.

Yesterday for the first time since I’ve been back I thought seriously about buying a car – something that I really would rather not, if I can avoid it. But then, warm summer nights are made for restless, introverted souls to drive aimlessly and listen to Beth Orton.

Living Abroad vs. Traveling Abroad, Slight Return

The change of seasons is one of the things I missed most about America during my year abroad, though, and specifically my native Midwest. No surprise there; I missed the change of seasons when I lived out west, in Arizona (for 18 long months) and Northern California for five short years. Not sure why that is; I just know that stasis tends to make me nervous. And restless.

There are really only two seasons in Southeast Asia, hot and ridiculously hot – or, in more colloquial terms, fucking hot. The onset of ridiculously hot season usually corresponds with the region’s rainy season, so we could call it ridiculously hot and humid season. To a Midwest American native, there never seems to be any change of seasons there; it’s almost as if time just stands still.

Notably though, I don’t find myself yearning to move back to Southeast Asia to live there, but to travel there and across it. There is a considerable difference between living abroad and traveling abroad. I’ve had enough of the former for now; I’m not sure I could ever really get enough of the latter, at least not for very long.

I wondered when I came back to the States how long it would be before I began thinking about leaving it again. Nnow I know: three months.

I’ve remarked on this before, this living abroad compared to traveling abroad, but I’ve actually spent a lot of timing thinking about it low these last three months as I reacquainted myself with (mid) American life. Living abroad I think is something everyone should do for at least one year in their lives – it’s an amazing experience that will forever alter how you see yourself and the world (at least it should. If it isn’t and it doesn’t, well, that’s a reflection on you – a piss poor one). I’m sure I’ll want to live abroad again at some point in the not-too-distant future – where I couldn’t say, but somewhere abroad.

More on this tomorrow; this wall of text is long enough today.

Postscript: Wondering about that picture? I took that photo in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, near the border with Burma (Myanmar). Not from Bridge over the river Kwai.

Postscript, slight return: here’s the promised living abroad vs. traveling abroad pondering and pontification.

One thought on “Yearning to Travel Abroad (Again)”

Comments are closed.