Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Six Pack That Changed the Course of My Life

One year, five nights, and countless adventures ago, my friend Jeremy (yes, another one) showed up at my place in Melbourne with a six-pack and a smile. I had no idea how life-altering his visit would turn out to be. By the time we'd made it through the second round, I'd booked a round-trip flight to Bangkok, with a departure date of July 5, 10 days later. By the time Jeremy went home, I had a hotel reservation, too.

To be honest, it wasn't a completely out-of-the-blue development. I'd been toying with the idea of visiting Bangkok earlier in the year, but after seeing The Hangover Part II in May while on a long-weekend trip to Auckland, I began to reconsider. I changed course entirely when Jeremy messaged me from Singapore a few days after I returned to Melbourne from New Zealand. "Having a great time," he wrote. "But boy, is it hot as hell -- and humid, too!"

Or something to that effect. 

Three of the worst H words you could use ("hot," "hell" and "humid") to describe one place! Why, I thought to myself, would I want to leave lovely Melbourne, cold as it was getting, to go anywhere near there? Case closed: I was staying put.

I'm not sure what Jeremy said the Saturday evening he came over that made me change my mind. Sure the fact that he was traveling to Bangkok in mid-August made an impression, but if all of my friends were walking into a burning building, would I follow? Not a chance!

Maybe the Pure Blonde was racing to my head, but at some point after opening the second longneck bottle, I took the plunge. I decided to venture into the unknown: one month in Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on Thailand and Bangkok. Five days short of a year that's taken me all over Southeast Asia, back to Melbourne, and back to Bangkok, here I am... again... still.

But I can feel a change moving in, the distinct pull of wanderlust getting ready to drag me away. To where? I'm not sure. Perhaps it has something to do with a freelance story I'm working on for which I had to do some research on cities in several countries I still haven't visited, like China, India and Indonesia. Suddenly, I'm realizing how much of this part of the world I've yet to see. All I know is that earlier today when an opportunity arrived that would keep me in Bangkok indefinitely, perhaps semi-permanently, I didn't jump at it.

Maybe it's that old devil called wanderlust, or it could be that Bangkok, as much as I adore it, has never felt enough like home for me to even attempt to learn the language. I just extended my lease here until July 31, and my flight back to Melbourne, which I've already pushed back once, is on August 29. So for now, here I am, again, still, not necessarily waiting for or looking for anything in particular, but totally open to whatever will be, much like I was that fateful June Saturday in Melbourne, one year, five nights, and countless adventures ago.

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