I love maps

12 May

Bangkok maps

I was browsing in the travel section of my local bookshop this morning (cheap thrills) after I’d dropped the boys at nursery school, and I came across Nancy Chandler’s map of Bangkok.  Just looking at the cover brought memories flooding back and when I got home I rifled through my map cupboard to find my own copy (“1992 the very LATEST REVISION!”).

My love affair with maps started with Nancy Chandler’s map and the bus map of Greater Bangkok, on my first trip to Thailand.  I was a week into my round the world trip, my first big trip without my parents.  I arrived at my Thai friend’s house in Bangkok to a letter, saying that she’d had to go away for work and would be back in a few days.  The letter said that her housekeeper would feed me and I should explore with the maps she had provided.  Obviously I’d used maps before, but for the first time I used a map to navigate an entirely foreign city all by myself.  I picked where I wanted to visit on the annotated Nancy Chandler map and worked out a route on the bus map.  I felt like an explorer, discovering one of the most exotic and exciting cities in the world.

My next country was Australia and I plotted my slow progress around the continent by Greyhound bus, marking my route on my map as I travelled.  On the many trips I’ve taken since that first one, I’ve collected maps of the places I’ve visited and my map cupboard now bulging.

Maps are so full of potential, each one suggesting an infinite number of itineraries.  And almost twenty years after I acquired those first two, my maps are great souvenirs.   They are covered in little notes I made to myself, bus numbers underlined, markets circled, and I can still remember the excitement of lying on my bed in Bangkok, tracing routes with my finger and anticipating the next day’s adventures. 

One of the first things I am going to do when we arrive in Bangkok this time, is buy up to date maps.


One Response to “I love maps”


  1. An award, a pair of woolly leggings and a Swiss Army Knife « It's a small world after all - 06/10/2009

    […] practical and romantic reasons we always take a compass and a map.  I love maps and there is nothing to match the feeling of possibility when you smooth out a new map in a new […]

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