When I first came to Thailand I thought I might be gone for about a year – teach a little bit and travel around SE Asia, then head to Australia and New Zealand, and ideally make my way home via Europe. That was in May 2011.
Instead, I haven’t even managed to get out of SE Asia (wait, does India count?). And I still want to see all those other places.
What it comes down to though isn’t about checking places off my list or adding stamps to my passport. The real reason is that, even though I have now lived in Chiang Mai for more than a year, I still do/see/learn/eat/realize/experience something new everyday.
And that’s what’s keeping me here, for now. Yes, you can learn, do or see something new everyday at home, but it’s more difficult. You do the commute to and from work without actually being aware of what you’re doing. You get used to your surroundings/routines/habits/expectations. And that’s not a bad thing – it just makes it more difficult to recognize the new and experience something different.
I know the time will come when I want more stability, predictability and a home that feels like I’ll be staying there for a while. But for now, I love the fact that I can still walk down the street and notice something new, learn something about where I am or appreciate something so little as realizing there’s a papaya tree in my back yard. It’s the little things that make me stop and think or stick in my mind more than the big ones like, say, going on holiday to a new island or zip lining for the first time.
I hope that by the time I do go home or settle down in a place, I will be able to remember not to get too caught up in the familiar and still actively seek out or notice new things all around me.
What keeps you traveling? Or how do you find new things to excite you at home?
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
New places are always calling my name...
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