Aha, Thailand. You have been quite the starter country in this new lifestyle I am clawing into with bloody fingernails.
First lesson I’ve learned on this my second trip to the country: make damn well sure you have a second and maybe even third bank account for regular use and emergencies. Leave one card at home with a couple grand on it, one in the suitcase and one on person for current use. OK, maybe I’m being a little over the top, but given what I’m still going through with my bank, I’d say it’s pretty understandable. Thank goodness for those who are helping me get through the rest of my travel until I can get back to the states to rip Bank of America a new one for freezing my account way too long.
As much as I don’t want credit cards, looks like it may be time. Definitely seems less painful than having the one card I have stolen and leaving me stranded in a third world country. Traveler’s checks seem out of date. A few different type accounts I’m going to look into thanks to reading posts in the Facebook group called Girls Love Travel (shout-out!), are travel money cards, a cash passport and an online checking account. I’d love feedback and suggestions about these and other options but please back it up with some factual information. As a big researcher, one of my pet-peeves is irresponsible opinions thrown out without a strong foundation. Feel me?
Second lesson: don’t listen to grungy and broke backpackers fifteen years younger than me who think their way is the right way and that anything beyond being one step above living on the streets is lame. Just as I’ve discovered with many of the hippies I’ve lived with and among in the past, those clinging to this stereotype (so not everyone) preach about not needing money or things and immersing in the culture around them but are so obviously pushing their own agenda. Also that their “universe will provide” type attitude often just means that they are feeding off the people around them. Watch some videos from JP Sears. He does hilarious parodies calling all of us (including me) out on our bullshit. The first one I saw, or should say was sent, was actually done by someone else about Burning Man but lead me to him.
I know me showing this side of my point of view is probably is confusing considering how much of my own life and personality reflects of the more free-spirited cultures. A big part of me is. Thing is, I’m a human being. There are many sides that round me out and are sometimes contradictory. This trip has taught me a lot. Often things I don’t want to admit and am frankly a bit shocked by. First, and I kind of knew this one, I count on my loved ones to help me when I can’t help myself. Especially when I’m trying to go after something with no one to guide me. Like I’ve said before, I’m often not good at change until pretty far in, but what I am good at is never giving up until I get there. That means I need help figuring it out at times. Don’t we all?
Second thing about myself that is really becoming clear is that, while I still believe I would enjoy backpacking and hostels for two or three days at a time, it has to be after getting to know a country a little bit and in between staying at nicer places. Turns out I like, no need, to balance by doing the luxury and tourist things if I want to have a good experience. Gasp! I know. I admitted the thing I’m not supposed to admit. Why exactly is that? These excursions and amenities exist for a reason and having a snotty so-called free spirit about it just makes us miss out on some pretty great awesomeness (if helping and not hurting the local economy).
I’m not saying I don’t want the authentic experience but I like the idea of being pampered in a lovely environment while catching my bearings, writing and getting over jetlag. Sure I like to keep an eye out for a local I can offer to pay for a day of taking me around for a more legit experience. Setting up a tour beforehand for day two or three, however, gives me something to latch onto for a better sense of direction. Speaking of that, I want to do the excursions, retreats (tantra, yoga and other kinds of wellness are currently catching my attention) and volunteer. In example of one of the reasons why I want to book a little bit of my trip beforehand, both times I tried to find volunteer opportunities within a week or two of go time through Workaway, it didn’t work out. Volunteering abroad and supplementing part of my food and board with it was one of my main goals. I am still pretty bummed about that and don’t want it to happen again.
So here we are. Currently deep in the trial-and-error phase, what is feeling right at this exact moment is a couple days of R&R with pampering and writing in between venturing out into the grit. Yes to recover but more than that, to process. I hate admitting and am finally giving into the fact that I’m more high-maintenance that I want to be. Please don’t tell my dad. He’ll never stop teasing me.
There’s different ways to be high-maintenance and mine lies in anxiety. Something now excessively better than in the past thanks to an unexpected side affect from my seizure meds, Lamotrigine, but still there. I have an exciting personality that brings magic to the situations and people around me but the flip to that is that I’m not relaxed enough to handle traveling on a super-budget or nonstop.
I’m really homesick. I’m sure due to the excessive hardships of this trip ever since the pick-pocket incident. Still, I’m excited for a week in London visiting my friend Emma. Something that would have been canceled if the airline had let the flight be changed or refunded. Also, while the situation is now calling for a separate trip to Paris instead of continuing on there now, I have an excuse to hop over to Rome and Barcelona for a couple of weeks when I do finally make it. Hopefully June.
Let’s take a step back to the end of my last post with this trip and get you up to speed. It feels like a lifetime since I’ve last checked in with all of you Free Robin Flyers! As that usually means, so much has happened. Please keep in mind that I may get times and days wrong as I share the following stories. Both seem to have the magic affect of getting jumbled as well as lost when traveling.
On my last night in Shanti Phuket, a new friend I had previously met in SF through GLT (Girls Love Travel) made her way from India for a one-night slumber party. We talked about some of the hardships of setting off on our adventures, something that is a relief to be able to relate to and talk about when hanging with other travelers. We also talked about her time in India, a little about us going to Burning Man together and ventured out for some traditional Thai food with conversation turning to nutrition and weight (which happens too often) and writing. Specifically how I should pick up more travel writing for the perks and portfolio. So true, though I’m scared of it hurting my own writing. After that, we took a rainy walk through Bangla Road (just for the show and shock of it) and did some shopping (bleck). We even considered a full moon party for a brief moment but it was raining, expensive and not even a full moon.
Parting the next morning for her to venture off to Phi Phi and I to Krabi, I realized when getting off the ferry that I had picked an Airbnb far away from the area I wanted to be in. Instead of staying at the coast with so much of what the island has to offer, I had chosen an Airbnb close to the airport which ended up being on the other side of the island. After being dupped into an insanely priced 1,500 tuk tuk ride (only to realize after that the reason the woman who got me likely wanted to take a picture with me because I was such a sucker), I got to the hotel, if you could call it that, I was going to be staying at. The room was a barren white cement block with the essentials. Air conditioning, a small fridge and a decent bathroom. Something I was about to be very thankful for.
While nothing exciting, and the five flights of stairs up were pretty rough with my 75 lb bag, the room actually seemed pretty standard for what I was seeing in the price range. What wasn’t OK was that the building was only maybe a quarter built and there was construction all day long. So much for getting any rest.
A few hours after checking in, I ade my way to a traditional Thai restaurant that consisted of a dirt floor, plastic picnic tables outside and a meal that cost the equivalent of $1.50 USD or less. It was there that the fates brought me some of the unexpected magic of traveling as I ended up in a total impromptu date.
An attractive man of Indian descent who was originally from the UK but now working in finance in New York, highly educated and traveling in between jobs (I was soon to find out) walked by. Before finding his way to my table, I had noticed him. What’s more, I could feel chemistry even though we hadn’t even made eye contact yet.
Stopping just after me, he looked around as he unconvincingly pondered where to sit and (to no surprise) took the table directly across from me. Wasting no time, he asked if my food was good to which I replied he was welcome to try it. He followed by asking if he could join me and bought a beer to share, though I politely refused, which should have tipped me off as to what was about to come. The night was filled with great conversation about his career in finance and my background in it along with my lifestyle. He found it fascinating and I found his stability and success sexy. Had the fate of bad food not set in, I’d imagine we would have stayed out, or maybe in (wink, wink) all night.
Talking more, we found out he was staying at the same place and had the same flight to Chiang Mai the next day. Exciting potential continued to unfold until my stomach hadn’t started to turn around 7:45 PM. Knowing what was coming but hoping I was wrong as the nausea grew, I told him I wasn’t feeling well and had to go back. He paid the bill and walked me back in the rain, I gave him a quick hug and hurried up the stairs.
It wasn’t even five minutes before I started violently throwing up. The first time was already enough to shock me with how much food and liquid I had in my body. I didn’t think I’d even consumed that much over the whole week let alone just one day. Continuing to get sick every five minutes, sharp pains had me screaming and moaning out of unconsciousness every time I managed to literally pass out. At some point after that I was on the toilet with the bucket in my hands and had a high fever. Fighting to stop myself from losing consciousness for longer than the few seconds I already had been at a time, I would only move to dive into bed a few feet away soaking in sweat in an effort to stop myself from hitting my head. Never allowing my body to last there longer than ten minutes, I was close to laying on the shower floor with the water running. Looking back, I probably should have.
The adventure continues…