This past week was recess week for us, so my friends and I went to do a bit of traveling around Southeast Asia. Our trip to both Bangkok and Bali felt too long and too short. The bustle of Bangkok made me miss me time in Shanghai, but there was a distinctive difference – no one was looking at us.
In Shanghai, I had a diverse group of friends, many of them tall, and all very much foreign-looking to local Chinese people. In Thailand, however, in the group of six, there was only one non-asian person, but her “sun-kissed” skin and dark, thick hair made her appear to belong to the region. I felt right at home in Bangkok, acclimating to the weather (rainy) and the metro (crowded) quickly. We walked the streets like we lived there, despite the obvious chatter in English that very often gave us away.
One thing I sought out to do was find spicy food and BOY let me tell you. Singaporean food seems to be relatively tame, so coming to Thailand was like the clouds parting and a single chili that is also on fire falling on my tongue. Everything I ate there was spicy, much to the shock of those traveling with me.... everything. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all flaked with red and I loved it.
Bali was very different in tone and experience. For one, it didn’t rain, which I appreciated greatly. It was also a dryer heat, which was so nice, to not be sweating as soon as we stepped out. And two, it was an island, and the culture was certainly reflective of it. No structure stood more than one story, and there was no highway – while there were a few paved roads, not many with any traffic direction – so transportation by scooter was preferred. There was an air of nonchalance and relaxation – though that might have been through the insane amount of foreigners coming to their surf n’ sun mecca.
A note for both of these places, and any place you travel to – everything you do is what you make of it. There are so many ways to experience the same place, so many ways you can go to a beach and come away happy with your time or mad about your sunburn. Also, always know where your phone is.