I’m writing this post from 10,058m in the air, somewhere between Bangkok and Sydney (possibly just after crossing the equator). I am literally in no man’s land, listening to Adele’s 25, feeling reflective, obviously.
As excited as I am to be off to a Westernised country (hello tea, hot showers, and hopefully, no rice), I feel like I’ve left a little bit of my heart and soul in Thailand. I can’t say I’ve exactly got many stamps in my passport, but Thailand is one of the best places I’ve ever been (beaten only by Rome, because pizza). If I’m honest, I was a bit scared of Thailand, based purely on the The Beach and that bit in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason where she gets thrown in Thai jail for accidentally smuggling drugs. But it really has everything, from crazy nightlife in Bangkok, to more temples than anyone could ever want to see (trust me), to incredibly peaceful jungles, to postcard perfect beaches. Not gonna lie, I can totally see why people come here travelling and just never leave.
It’s so hard to pick a highlight of the best four weeks of my life, but in a nutshell? Everything! Okay, if I had to pick a top five:
1) Seeing the biggest Buddha in Thailand and feeling pretty awestruck (and grossed out by all the feet on display – no shoes in temples).
2) Seeing the lights of Bangkok appearing in the distance and just feeling incredibly excited for a crazy weekend.
3) Seeing an elephant for the first time, and watching the pure joy on Buddhi the elephant’s face as she had a bath with her owner.
4) Diving for the first time and discovering a whole world underwater – including seeing baby sharks when snorkelling!
5) Speeding around the island of Koh Tao on a speedboat in the sun, and just thinking this is the life.
But the true highlight? The amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last month with. Laura, for always being up for a nap and stroking cats; Holly, for also hating all Thai food; Katie, for having the world’s best accent; Cesca, for shitting herself like me when climbing; Bonnie, for being messy (like me); Ellie, for sharing my pale skin struggles; Hannah for always being game for a pancake; Norah for answering my constant questions about life in Holland; Fleur for braving tubing with me, and finally Paul for basically becoming one of the girls by the end of the month. We’ve truly been through it all together, from freezing showers, to a rice overload, to ridiculously long, cramped coach journeys. Here’s hoping to lifelong Facebook chats and friendship!
To be honest, before I went travelling I had no idea if I’d like it or just want to be in bed at home with my dogs. I’ve had the best time so far, but in the spirit of honesty, there have been shitty days. I feel like whenever you read a travel blog it’s all rara life is amazing etc, so on behalf of anyone who’s ever been travelling and not loved every moment, I feel like I should discuss some of the bad moments too. Currently being sat on a plane with a suspected chest infection that makes eating agony isn’t a highlight of my trip to say the least, and no one is loving life on a twelve hour coach journey next to a fat Chinese guy. And then there’s sharing a room with a lizard and a centipede. Not ideal. But they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I feel like the bad days and just as important as the good. I’ve learnt that, when I want to be, I can be a bit of a badass. On Monday, I woke up with an infected toe that I couldn’t walk on. And I just, sort of, dealt with it. Like, I went to the doctors, all on my own. Managed to communicate what was wrong to a doctor with limited English, on my own. Finally, endured having my toe cut open with no painkillers, on my own. Pretty badass, I think. And now, when I see a lizard running about? Meh.
They say that you can’t run away from your problems, and I guess going travelling to get over a broken heart is sorta doing just that. And I’m not gonna lie, there are days when I’d cut off my arm, hop on a plane, and possibly even sell a kidney or two to be back with the person I thought I might marry one day (soppy cow). But increasingly there are more days when I realise that that’s not going to happen, and that’s sort of okay. To me, the future I thought I had mapped out was perfect, but the more of the world I’m seeing, the more I’m realising there’s more than one perfect. Maybe perfect is teaching diving on sunny Koh Tao, maybe it’s working and partying hard in a bar in Sydney, or maybe it’s back in England, one day, with someone else. Travelling has taught me there’s a future beyond the one, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a shitty heartbroken one.
Wow. That got really intense really quickly! Talk about a spiritual revelation when travelling. On a more light hearted note, bring on the cute surfers in Australia! Only 4754km to go…