If you’re a frequent reader, by now you’ve caught on to the fact that our trip to Southeast Asia earlier this year was an anniversary present to ourselves for celebrating ten years together. After a lot of thought, we decided to revisit one of favorite cities, Bangkok. Scott has been to Bangkok three times, but this was just my second visit. My first visit was another self-awarded present following Scott’s successful completion of a major life event. That trip remains one of my favorite travel memories and is one I think about often.
Everything about that trip was perfect, from the flight to the hotel and of course the city. Bangkok has been luring and enticing visitors for more than two hundred years, capturing their imaginations like a spider with its prey. The smells, colors and sounds are all completely unique; found nowhere else on the planet. The city was the perfect destination and our adventures were just amazing. That’s why we wanted to return, but I was secretly worried. Worried about whether or not it’s possible to capture travel lightning twice.
I don’t think I’m alone with these thoughts; I think many of us struggle with this dilemma. I know I love Paris and that every time I visit I have a great time, but it’s hard to use that precious travel time to trample down the familiar instead of the new and exotic. But it’s more than just about trying to match a past trip, that’s just not possible. Everything is constantly changing, the world, us, everything. It’s not possible to have the same trip twice and I knew that, still I had to give it a try.
Since we had visited before, I didn’t feel the same compunction to do and see as much as possible. Instead, we decided to just do what we knew we liked. Wat Arun was our first stop, the dramatic location of my favorite travel memory and the best photo of Scott I’ve ever taken.
That moment five years ago was special because it was completely unpredictable and totally random. We had just arrived at Wat Arun when the skies opened and a hot shower began to fall. Completely unprepared we sought refuge under an awning at the monastery. I looked at Scott, noticed his smile and took a completely honest shot. It was perfect; it captured not only that silly moment, but our love and affinity for each other.
Foolishly we tried to retake the photo, but of course it’s not the same. It could never be the same, and it was silly to try. No love is lost, if anything it has grown, but it’s not possible to force a genuine moment that isn’t there.
The rest of the trip was similar to that recreated moment. We loved being back in Bangkok, marveling at its incredible growth in only five years and enjoyed just living the Thai city life for a few days. But it was different from that special trip five years ago, and that’s ok. Nothing will ever be the same twice. Instead of trying to recapture special memories and emotions, it’s important to think instead of creating new ones. It’s ok to return to favorite cities, but just don’t expect the feelings to be the same. The city will still be there, but you will have changed.
What do you think? Where do you land in the debate?