Traveling the world is one of the most wonderful and humbling experiences I have ever had. The more I see the smaller I really feel and the more I find there is so much more out there yet to be explored.
I once saw a quote that said traveling is like leaving a piece of your heart everywhere you go. Each country, state, and city I have explored has touched me and changed me in some way, and I truly have left a part of my heart in every place I have visited.
My first trip to South East Asia in 2011 will always be a special memory to me. My first stop was Bangkok, Thailand, where I was to meet up with my older brother and travel with him for all 4 weeks of my Winter Break from college.
I remember arriving at the airport and catching a cab to Khao San Road like it was yesterday. My head was on a swivel and my eyes were as big as watermelons because I couldn’t quite fathom everything that I knew I was about to experience.
Every time I’ve gone back to Bangkok those emotions of first being on foreign soil come over me again. I feel like I’m 19 years old and I’m blissfully hopeful of all the world has to offer me. These are my memories and feelings that I attach to Bangkok. They’re happy and innocent and perfectly serene in a way, and I know for a fact that part of my heart will forever be left in Thailand.
But then this August someone decided they wanted me to attach new feelings to Bangkok. Someone bombed the Erawan Shrine, a place that I had visited. Someone decided they wanted the memories of Bangkok and this place to forever be a dark one in the minds of people who adore this city.
It’s the same feeling you get at Ground Zero in New York City, and it’s the same feeling everyone who’s ever been to Paris is feeling right now.
It hurts and it sucks.
It’s like someone reaching into your heart, pulling out all your fond memories of a place and then throwing black paint on them. No matter how hard you try, a dark cloud is never far from your happy thoughts of a place that was special to you. Because you honestly know that on a different day, during a different time you could have been there when that tragedy occurred.
When you’ve actually been to a country or city, met the people, ate the food, learned the culture, it stings a little more when something bad happens to it. It’s more than watching something sad on the news, it feels like you’ve personally been hurt. On that day in August when I heard of the Bangkok bombings my heart was breaking, the part of my heart that will always belong to the country of Thailand and the city of Bangkok.
To everyone who held Paris in a special place in their hearts, consider this my virtual hug to you. I know how you’re feeling and I know how badly it hurts.