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Amber Paulen

Back to Bangkok

On first landing (again) in Bangkok, I thought I had somehow acclimatized myself to the heat. On second thought, I knew my feeling was false: walking through the weekend market yesterday was like subjecting myself to a crowded sauna. No matter, the heat is welcome after the cloudy grey-cool of Hanoi, its subsequent shivers and even coats; the heat is welcome before the long plane ride back to Rome and brimming spring—if volcanic ash hasn’t engulfed all of Europe yet.

It’s odd but appropriate to be back in Bangkok, to be staying at the same guest house on the same street. The circle has swung somewhat full, just in time to nearly go. Because you see, despite all that is the same, there is so much that looks different.

I wouldn’t have gone a’ travelling if it wasn’t for this guaranteed result of Change. Change not of what I see but how I see it. And not even that seeing is concrete but more like a feeling, an emotion, more like another steadiness in myself, in this place. Bangkok, two months ago, was a monstrous assault on my every sense. If anything I described it as too much, too many people, too big, too hot and sunny, too many touts, too much. Now, though all that still exists—but I must thank the red shirts for less tourists—I am not overwhelmed by it, able to better examine it and that is a great distance indeed.

Like John Cowper writes through the mouth of Sylvanus Cobbald:

There was only All there was; and it was the inherent nature, throughout eternity, for All there was to change. Everything has always changed and always will.

How reassuring! How boring it would be if we were faced with each day another of the same! I am all for Change, change and more change. And as for that ash cloud lingering high, we’re listening: hold the planes from the sky. Who in their right mind can argue with a little more vacation?


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