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We Have Changed: Returning to Thailand in 2019

My latest trip to South East Asia differed from other trips in that I was older, my traveling companion was younger, and Thailand had changed. I didn't plan to return to the country, but my friend had taken a teaching practicum in Bangkok, and we both thought we would enjoy exploring the north of the country before her term began. We laid our plans a few months in advance, but like most trips, it didn't turn out exactly as we had planned. We learned to manage each other's foibles and annoyances, negotiated how people viewed our relationship, and saw a Thailand transformed both by an explosion in Chinese tourism as well as our position in the country as we traveled.

We went from Bangkok to Lopburi, the monkey city, almost immediately upon arrival, and then, trying to escape the humidity of the near rainy season, we went to Phitsanulok, Old Sukothai, and Chiang Mai. We floundered around in the stifling heat, and I belatedly realized I had never visited Thailand in midsummer.

Finally, we caught the train back to Bangkok, where we embraced the rainy season. I lived downtown and my friend began to settle into teaching and although at first we had the impression we wouldn't be meeting again, despite being in the same city, we met up quite often. We met to see what each other's experience was like in the city which would be her home for eight months, and the city where I visited my professor friend, helped another friend whose daughter was fighting her mental illness, and in other ways waited on a flight to take me back to Canada.

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