So: it’s paradise here.
I know, I know–everyone told me a million times before I came: Thailand is the coolest, the best, most awesome vacation ever. But I always go into those kinds of things with a wee bit of skepticism. How can you, oh rapturous Thailand-traveler, guarantee that I will like it as much as you did?
The answer is because who wouldn’t like the following: pristine beaches, fresh tropical fruit of every description, perfect sunny 75 degree weather in January, delicious spicy brothy curries and noodle soups, friendly hospitable people, easy motorbikes to rent at all hours, a continuous sweet and gentle breeze, gorgeous rolling waves, hour-long massages on the beach for $9, and all manner of other wonderful things to do at what seem like illegally low prices.
I have been wanting to come to Thailand for about 10 years now. That’s about the time that Thai food became my favorite kind of food, and when photos and stories of friends’ backpacking adventures starting trickling in. (Oh shoot, and that terrible Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach.” I wish I didn’t have to count that among my influences.) One of the best things about living in Asia is how close you are to a bunch of countries that are really too far away to visit regularly from the U.S. A direct flight from Islamabad to Bangkok is under 5 hours and is fairly reasonable if you book early.
Being here–not worrying about my security, not walking through metal detectors, being able to wear a dress in public, eat food from street shacks without fear of dysentery–feels like a real vacation. Pakistan is a wonderful adopted home, but it is still a foreign and sometimes difficult place: it’s still hard for me to figure out how to get things done, to buy stuff I need, to get where I want to go, to navigate an alien and (at times, though only occasionally) hostile culture. It will probably always be like that. Relaxing in a place where everything is simple and easy and warm and light and breezy makes that better. If I stay in Pakistan for a long time, I will think of Thailand as my recuperating pod: a warm and delicious little place to fortify me for a return to whatever comes next. And to eat as much papaya and pineapple and purple dragonfruit as I can stuff in my face.
(Yes, that’s the view from my hotel room. Or, more accurately, it’s the view from the personal reclining outdoor lounging hut outside my hotel room. Seriously, come to Thailand.)