Love at second sight

We do not call ourselves close friends with someone we’ve just met. Fast friends, maybe, but not close friends. Sometimes we get lucky and meet a person we connect within an instant over a cup of coffee or a tune from our favourite song. However, more often than not, such affection takes time; it grows day by day through the little things catch us by surprise. Things like how you find out with unexpected joy that he sings off-key in the shower just like you, or loves the stars because they remind him of everything that comes after existence.

Such is it with the love that grows between a city and the traveller who keeps coming back time and time again: this is a love that arrives at second sight.

There is less pressure the second time around.

While you remember the frenzy of attempting to navigate through the maze of traffic and floods of people the last time, this time, your excitement springs from a feeling of familiarity. Despite the exhilaration that comes with each new experience, the comfort that arrives with the familiar is a feeling that many of us would not want to go without.

Visiting city for a second time opens a different world of satisfaction.

You walk through city streets and squares with more confidence this time around. The roads you have to pass through are still narrow and twisted, people still swarm around at every turn and corner, but your eye catches sight of a familiar landmark—a particular swirl of architecture, perhaps, or a familiar scent that wafts out a restaurant.

Unlike the last time, you know that this time, you won’t be getting lost that easily—and if you do get lost among the sites and smells, it will be entirely by choice.

It’s time to explore the hidden sites you might have missed.

The last time you were here in this city, you’d rushed to visit every attraction on your top-ten list. You came away at the end of your three-day trip with a camera roll full of photos and fifteen iconic sites under your belt. You’re proud of covering so much ground in such a short time. Exhilaration runs through your veins, and you’re intoxicated with everything you’ve tasted, smelt and touched.

As you pack up to leave, you remember those bright little rows of shops and stalls behind your hotel. I’ll spend some time there next time, you think.

Back then, you’d wondered if there would be a next time. But you’re here now, back again at the same comfy hotel with those same little streets behind it and you think this time you’re going to spend a whole afternoon exploring those colourful hidden nooks and crannies.

Nostalgia hits you hard.

At the end of your last visit, you remember peering out of the little round window beside your aeroplane seat as you watched the play of sunlight through the clouds. You’ve had a satisfying trip. Nonetheless, you wish that your jam-packed schedule had allowed you a bit more time at that quaint little stall serving the most buttery-soft roti-canai you’ve ever tasted—if not the the food then for the chef that charmed you with stories of learning his craft from his father as he kneads the white dough with his rough hands.

This time, you think you might sit down for a while longer at that stall. You could have spent the money on a ticket to somewhere else, saved up even for a luxurious meal at a fancier restaurant, but some things are worth doing twice, some people—some places are worth visiting twice.