As soon as I popped on the highway, I knew it felt the same as somewhere else I’d been. Etched in my memory was a road in northern Thailand that was built in the same design and traffic had whizzed by as it was doing now.

When I saw the Pad Thai being mixed in large pans the size of cymbals at the market, I small smile crept onto my face. The smell of garlic and spice emanated from the dish. I had to try it, and when I did it seemed familiar, yet more delicious than previous versions that were less to my liking with lime and peanuts, and shrimp instead of this one with chicken and garlic.

My lips parted and a whoosh of wind pushed a “Whooooo!” out of my mouth. The descent in Khao Yai National Park was fast and curvy, graded around 8% in spots. I pushed my weight and shifted it around on corners and made it to the bottom safely with my touring weight.

I’ve had all these feelings before, just not in the same place.

Discovering a place for the second, or third or fourth time, the familiarity seeps in, even in a place where I don’t speak much of the language. It feels nice knowing the little secrets — tips I have learned while spending months in Thailand over fragmented periods of time. I have gained a respect for the culture and people of Thailand, and I believe they have of me too because I have bothered to learn numbers and phrases and food words…despite the giggles I got from schoolgirls over my pronunciation.