Updated: Mar 12
Dear Asian Youth,
I have lived in the same city since I was born, but I have always tried to pinpoint reasons to leave – counting the days until I can finally live abroad, alone and free. The unattractive parts of the city have always stuck out to me: the traffic jams, the air pollution, the sizzling climate and the narrow sidewalks.
But until today, the day I am finally leaving, I have never felt proud enough to say that I grew up in…
For more than a decade, I was blindfolded by the parts of the city I wanted to leave the most. I thought they would haunt me forever: the riots, the protests, the stench of toxic fuel from cars, the puddles of ambiguous liquid on the street corners.
The realization that I am leaving the city I grew up in has blended all its quirks, good and bad, into one large amorphous puddle of nostalgia.
I will have to say goodbye to the busy streets, permeated by the smell of grilled food and boiling soup. Walking down the crowded sidewalk, water dripping from the shades of buildings after a good rain. The doorbell’s melody that rings every time a person walks past the Seven-Eleven that happens to appear on every single block. The dangerous buses in which it’s impossible to stand still without tumbling. The unorganized chaos of jaywalkers who prompt a cacophony of honks as they cross the street at the wrong (but only) time.
I will miss the artsy pedestrian overpasses that are always empty because it’s too hot to walk under the sun and the lesbian couple taking photos on that artsy pedestrian overpass. The chilling breeze of air conditioners on a sweaty sky train. The tuk-tuks that overcharge tourists who can’t speak Thai. The Thai flair that all restaurants add to their international cuisine. The voices of girls praying in my old Catholic school next to my house. The street performers with impeccable voices who lug around their portable guitar amps.
Most of all, I will miss my family. How they never hesitate to venture down a strange road near the exit of a congested highway. How we spend our weekends traveling to the crowded tourist attractions and act like we’re tourists just so we can learn everything there is to learn about Wat Phra Kaew or The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. How they take us to Chinatown and buy an enormous bowl of the best (and cheapest) egg noodles.
As a Bangkokian (nobody in Bangkok actually calls themselves that), I have never gratefully enjoyed the city’s beauties and quirks. I used to feel ashamed of Bangkok because others thought it was a chaotic city where everything will give you diarrhea and is dirty, illegal and arousing. But I’ve grown past those false assumptions. I’ve learned to love the city that has embraced and nurtured me my whole life. I would be nothing without this eccentric place.
Anyone who disregards the beauty of Thailand has never spent a day in Bangkok.
There is a strange uniqueness that makes Bangkok one-of-a-kind, and it’s impossible to not miss this charming city I call “home.”
– Yanitta Iew
Editors: Sandhya G, Nikki J, Zoe L , Sam L.