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Epilogue

August 19, 2010

Welcome to the final post of Bangkok Dangerous.

The only appropriate word I can come up with to summarize the experience is “tremendous” but sadly those who most understand what I mean when I say that are not likely to ever read this.  If I had to give a good reason why it’s because when you live in such an unconventional world year after year, one person’s personal account doesn’t have the same gravity to it you might expect.  These stories instead become rather conventional and come to think of it, many islanders don’t seem to read so much anyway.  Actually “tremendous” or any other word to describe Thailand is a gross understatement and I feel silly having to type that.  Hitting all green lights and getting your favourite parking spot is tremendous.  Thailand is something different indeed.

Now I don’t know about reality being stranger than fiction but it sure is a helluva lot more interesting anyway.

Now I’m proud of what I did.  I try to write these things so I don’t come off sounding too arrogant (too late?) but I believe I’ve earned that claim.  I once said to a good friend that this trip feels like the cumulative task of everything I’ve ever learned or experienced about the world and my adult life and my experience in Thailand was somehow a barometer for that task.  I believe that anyone can give themselves the opportunity to travel, commitments and family aside but I like to think that what I did was something unique – an experience yet to be lived until I had said and done it and that means a lot to me.  Now of course I’m not the first nor the last to take off and claim a life for myself in a foreign land but knowing I was blazing my own trail with unknown mistakes and successes to be had felt liberating.  Just as important, it felt good that no matter where I went or what I did I’d always think favorably of home and looking forward to the day I would be reunited with those most important in my life.  And now that I’m back home and preparing for a more settled and Western lifestyle I still like to think there’s an element of that trail blazing present in my life as I go back to school and start fresh with a new experience.  I will forever miss my friends and adopted family in Thailand and everything we went through.  I’ll miss the water, the beaches, the smells, the frustrations.  I don’t think I could do it all over again but I hope I can one day afford to travel and enjoy something once again out of my comfort zone from another perspective as a more mature adult.  Maybe outer space. . .

The thing about extended traveling, Thailand or otherwise, it allows you to come out from behind the microscope of your own society and culture and put it into perspective against something totally different.  This is something very important because it can be difficult to be constructively critical of yourself, your lifestyle and that of your peers when you only have one authentic perspective of how the world works.  I think that living in a world under ever-increasing globalization it’s important to be able to empathize with other people you share this planet with.  I believe this sentiment to be one of my core values and my experiences abroad have only served to strengthen this notion.

I don’t believe that Thailand has changed me fundamentally but it has matured me and hardened me towards some of the attitudes and perspectives I hold as I ease myself into adulthood.  And some of that has made me more critical of Canada and the way she marches through the 21st century.  Don’t get me wrong though, I love my country and the opportunities it provides but I think we could be doing things better and working harder to avoid the “Me” perspective towards some things.  I know I can be awfully selfish but it’s something to work on, right?
To give you an example about how I’m feeling, a couple of days ago while out for a run I was cruising up and down the streets of my late childhood in a particularly nice suburb of Burlington.  All the homes looked immaculate – those that didn’t stood out – and it just seemed that everyone was marching to the beat of the same drummer and looking the same direction.  Is that what adulthood is?  Is the generation elder than us a template for the adults we are to become?  Does fate really exist?  The instance that really caught my attention was when I ran past a great wooden sign with a painted stork on the front lawn announcing the birth of a baby girl.  Please understand that I expect (not yet having one) the birth of a child is one of the most precious and sacred things that can grace a loving couple.  But I believe that some modesty is in order when it comes to such things as I believe it is a very personal matter and as I ran by I couldn’t help but think that there was something missing from this picture.  Why should someone be compelled to erect a placard for something so personally intimate yet universally natural such as a new baby?  The impression it left me with was strong indeed.  I want to be proud of a child but I don’t want to feel like I need to be boasting.
The conclusion that I’ve drawn is that I don’t think there’s enough depth to spending your entire life in a suburb like the one I ran through when the rest of the world is out there waiting for you.  And I’m not trying to say in order to lead a meaningful life you must travel but I think that those with the means and time necessary to do so should spend a considerable amount of time outside of your comfort zone/bubble sometime in your life and appreciate that there is more than one way to do things and yours may not be the best.  Of course there are other ways of achieving this without donning a backpack but this has been my experience.
On the flip side of that, some of the most fascinating and genuine people I’ve met have never been more than 15 miles from where they were born and I would never suggest their life experience is any less valid than mine for they have truly made the most of what opportunity has been afforded to them.

And that’s just it, making the most of the opportunities presented to you and what you create for yourself.  Watch out for the distractions and always be grateful for those who care about you.

I’m going to miss writing and living out something that started out quite radical but with each passing day became somewhat more sensible as my personality carved itself a groove in a very foreign land.

I’d like to thank everyone who was supportive and positive throughout my entire experience.  Most of all my parents and my family for always having my back and allowing me to live this out the way I saw fit.  I love you guys.  Thanks to everyone I met and enjoyed crossing paths with in Thailand or its neighbours – you’re what makes the world a wonderful place to travel.  Thanks to Ko Tao for everything – You know what I mean.  Thanks to the wonderful people of Nanongthum who were a constant reminder of the generosity and genuine good nature of people and their acceptance of those different from themselves.  Ta and your family, thanks so much.
And thanks to all of you reading right now.  You kept my ambition high and helped me to be a better writer and this blog would never have been as successful without your positive feedback and the occasional comments.  Thanks again.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the work here and maybe learned something too.  I’m always down for sharing stories and indulging details so don’t hesitate, especially if there’s a cold beer in the fridge.  If any of you have any plans for travels yourself, please let me know, I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts.  Just in case, any of you can reach me at:

ben_tolton@hotmail.com

I think I’ve finally ran out of steam.

Cheers,

Ben/Will

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2 Comments
  1. kevin dolan permalink

    Ben,
    Amazing stories.St Augustine writing in the 5th century or thereabouts said that the unexamined life is not worth living. you have exposed your life to the world through travel and your life and all you touch is forever changed and made richer.Look forward to seeing you soon.
    Kevin

  2. just wanted to say that i’ve muchly enjoyed your adventures ben/will and hope someday to see another blog about some more. all the best.

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