I had so many (albeit last minute) plans for this quick stopover in Bangkok. I planned to visit temples, see the palace, take a river cruise, go to the weekend market, eat street food, get cheap massages, check out a yoga class, try out all of the bars in my super luxe hotel, walk the streets of this fast-paced city. It was going to be a whirlwind of a trip, so much to see and do in so little time.
The only thing I accomplished on that list was visiting the weekend market.
I took the train, by myself, to the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market as soon as the rain subsided Sunday morning. It was the most frequent suggestion that people recommended in Bangkok. I weaved my way through the crowded train and clogged streets to arrive at the market. After a week surrounded by the magic of Bali, I can only liken it to….well, magic is not the first word that comes to mind. Stifling. Rank. Oppressive. Blisteringly hot. Overwhelming. I don’t like flea markets at home; I can even get anxious in the melee of Target sometimes. I’m not sure this was the right venue to end my peaceful vacation…after the beauty and serenity of Bali, it was all too much. I just wanted to get back to the luxury of my hotel and relax.
I initially started to panic as I was leaving the market: “OMG I am wasting my short time here in Bangkok! I haven’t seen everything/done anything/been anywhere. How can I be going back to my (admittedly gorgeous) hotel room when I could be out exploring this city?”.
My FOMO (fear of missing out) was going into overdrive.
But, in a rare moment of insight, and instead of just following the FOMO blindly as I have done in the past, I paused. I decided to address it instead with a direct question: “Do I really want to go to the palace, ride a ferry or eat street food?”. The answer was immediate and resounding: “NO”.
I didn’t want to go to the palace, or get on a boat, or even get a massage. I wanted to rest. To re-group after an intense week.
So I did. And as soon as I gave myself the space to do what I really wanted, all of the FOMO, all of the guilt, all of the “should haves” just melted away. It was freeing–doing what I truly wanted instead of what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I didn’t take advantage of everything that Bangkok had to offer. I took care of myself instead.
Walking back to my hotel with this space I had allowed myself provided me with a different perspective. I was able to let go of the annoyances and impatience and discomfort that being in a big city can trigger for me. I had no schedule to keep, no place I “needed” to be. I was able to breathe, and to find things to add to my awe and wonder list, tucked away in my bag.
The man in the train station who helped me purchase the correct ticket and walked me to the right platform to wait for my train. My taxi driver who asked me if I voted for Barack Obama, and told me how much he likes him and his “beautiful wife Michelle”. The little boy kissing his baby sister as they waited with their parents to cross the street. The beautiful and bold colors of the dresses worn during a traditional dance at the Erawan Temple, with people making offerings all around.
In the midst of the traffic and smog, the cacophony and frenzied movement, there was beauty all around me.
The rest of my planned list did not happen. Instead I did this: Ordered room service. Wrote. Slept. Unpacked and re-packed. Ordered room service again. Wrote some more. Uploaded pictures of my Bali trip. Ordered room service one more time. Slept. Left for the airport, in the dark, at 4am. I did not see much of Bangkok.
It’s ok. I will be back in Bangkok at some point. Or maybe I won’t. It’s still ok.
I am excited to head home and stay in this space, listening to my heart instead of that crazy FOMO. Being present and “loving in time”. I want to find the magic of Bali, and the hidden beauty of Bangkok on Wilshire Blvd, or on the 10 at rush hour, or in line at Whole Foods. I am ready to go home.