Thailand was relaxing, delicious, and offered something different in every city I visited. I ate all the som tam (papaya salad) and pad see ew (stir fried rice noodles) I could get my hands on, and definitely drank more Chang/Leo beer than my parents would have wanted me to.
Exploring Thailand alone gave me a lot of time to journal and get lost in thought. I spent a lot of mind space pondering what brings me joy (is it people? food? money? a combination of all three?), as well as reflecting on which relationships in my life were important to me. Through each city I visited, I discovered new places I had never seen as well as parts of my personality that I hadn't paid much attention to before.
A month has passed since I departed for Bangkok, and I'm back in the throes of a full time job and life in general. These are some of the more memorable moments I often find myself reminiscing on:
5. Eating Thai food. I love nibbling on a variety of food, so Thai night markets were the perfect place for me. I also greedily ate mango sticky rice almost every day (drooling just thinking about it). To top it all off, I spent less than 100 baht (~$3USD) on most meals.
4. The thrill and independence of riding around on a motorbike. After you get over the initial trepidation of scooting around in the country with the world's 2nd deadliest roads, it feels super liberating to know you have wheels, especially when you're a tourist whose sense of agency has been stripped away by reliance on trains/planes/ubers. Yes at one point I did fall off my bike (going too fast, downhill, on a turn, in the rain), but eventually I got comfortable driving on the left side of the road and loved the sense of freedom I felt.
3. The Chiang Mai cabaret show. Wowowowow. There's drag shows, and then there's the Chiang Mai cabaret show. These ladies set the dance floor on fire and left my new mates and I speechless and cheering our asses off.
2. Swimming with the baby ellys at Happy Elephant Home. Pretty self explanatory how amazing it is to be in the presence of a majestic animal >5x your weight. And to see how gentle Asian elephants are. My favorite is when the baby elephant tried to drink milk from an elephant she thought was her mom: turns out it wasn't her mom and she kicked baby with her left hind leg.
1. My first time scuba diving. I swam amongst beautiful marine wildlife during my open water PADI certification process, where I had an amazing instructor (Gary from Hidden Depths Diving) and made some friends along the way. Meeting Ady (check out Flip Flop Divers) and grabbing drinks with his mates at Cheeky Monkey was by far a highlight of my trip, where I felt present and happy with that moment in time and space. Quote my new mate - "I'll have one. more. beer. Then I'll have another one!"
For those looking to plan a trip, you can download my Thailand itinerary as a starting place. This is by no means comprehensive, and I'm also not endorsing any of these places. Just thought it might be helpful to make your dream of traveling to Thailand seem more manageable.
Will I go back? Absolutely. My money's on someday moving out to the islands and becoming a dive instructor. In the meantime, I'll have my many pictures from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Koh Lanta to look back on.