Alexandra Sieh / Colorado Daily
Wat Pho lights up under a setting sun in Bangkok while tuk-tuk drivers wait for their next fare.

“So, what do we think?” I asked with a grin.

Manfriend pretended to shudder. “My god,” he said, smirking at the bob atop my head.


“I rather fancy it,” I chuckled, inwardly relishing the breeze on my neck. With my previous pixie cut now grown out to a chin-length mess, I could return to my days of wee ponytails. And despite their best efforts to preserve the international terminal’s high-end appeal, Guangzhou’s humid evening heat was still seeping through.

And as I had four hours to wait, I’d look as I pleased. Even if that meant me knotting my hair up for the duration.

Looking about, it’s not as if my wayward hairstyle stood out. Travelers at all stages of their journeys were biding their time alongside us. We were just two in thousands, waiting well into the night.
This time, we were off to Thailand.

The long wait had me fussy and impatient. The coffee wasn’t helping.

But as new as this adventure was bound to be — neither of us had explored Bangkok yet — a lot of it felt almost routine.

Alexandra Sieh / Colorado Daily
Inside Bangkok’s Wat Pho, colors and gold sparkle under the sweltering sun.

Take packing. I’m no efficient packer, nor do I prepare as well as I intend to. But when it comes to Southeast Asia, there’s not much to think about.

Out comes the Afghan Whigs T-shirt from a concert years ago in Denver, paired nicely with the pants I picked up in Vietnam. Out, too, comes the camera bag that came free with the refurbished Nikon I still have yet to learn to use properly. Tucked inside, a tattered book peers out from between my passport wallet and a notebook for wandering thoughts.

My travel persona is one of habit now.

So, too, are our actions while en route to our destination. Having traveled so often together, Manfriend and I now work as a pretty seamless team. From travel’s many queues, to currency exchange, to nabbing transport to the hostel, there’s not much to think about. We just go, unfazed even when things go haywire.

But then you get there. The place you’ve been researching and preparing for. Maybe you’re soaked in sweat and haggling for a drink or happily lost on some side street. You’re on your way to the first sight-seeing spectacle. And when you see it — smack. It’s the newness you’d been missing, slapping you square in the face.

Alexandra Sieh / Colorado Daily
Manfriend and I have a new favorite — fresh mango with sticky rice and coconut sauce. It’s a staple, and one dish we’ll be consuming regularly this trip.

For us, the glints of gold and cascading colored tiles were only the start of our new-adventure thrills. Bangkok’s wats and palaces jutted out over the chaotic streets, and it was all we could do to take it all in. The food, the language, the color — Manfriend and I were way out of our element.

Ironically, the exhilaration felt familiar, too. And it was just what we were looking for.

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