I’m back, and finally unpacked! There is so much to write about my trip that it’s hard to know where to begin. I thought I’d start with what I learned traveling alone for the first time- both about myself and life. (Yes, the feature picture is me on the beach with a selfie-stick).
- Traveling alone builds confidence while completely taking you out of your comfort zone. One thing I knew before embarking on this trip, was that I’m not always the best at directions. Once I get my bearings, I can get around, but it’s not something I’m naturally good at. This lack of ability is magnified when you are given maps that don’t show true scale, you are traveling in an area where every road has several different names, and when you don’t speak the language of the country you are in. Throughout the month I was gone, I got lost a ton, but always found where I was looking to go, whether it was being stubborn and walking until I found it, or stopping to ask a stranger and trying to explain even though we don’t speak the same language. I accomplished everything I put my mind to, and knowing that I can do it on my own definitely made me more confident in myself and my ability to not allow obstacles to stand in my way from achieving things. I also found out that I’m not the type of person to take the easy route- sometimes it’s about the journey to get there, and taking the short, easy route, you miss a lot.
- Have complete faith that everything works out and the unknown is okay. In life, I’m a planner. I like to know what to expect, and what comes next. Being in Thailand one thing I learned early on is that nothing is as you think it is going to be, and it was extremely exciting. Walking around looking for a Thai Boxing “stadium” can mean walking down a small alley and finding a boxing ring with some tables around it. Not at all what I was expecting, but so much more authentic and personal than the huge “stadiums” we are accustomed to in the States. Everything is so different in Thailand that you can’t have a picture in your head before you do something of what it’s going to be like, and I learned that I really enjoyed everything so much more once I started having no expectations on what I was about to do.
- It’s okay, and can be really rewarding to just be present. I keep myself extremely busy while at home. A typical day would include working out, grabbing lunch with someone, running errands, planning some sort of event, grabbling dinner and drinks with someone, go to sleep. No real time alone to truly be comfortable with being alone. Laying on the beach in Phi Phi Don, I was truly alone- on this romantic island- with my own thoughts and feelings. I learned to love it. I had a great time going out one night, but my favorite night there was when I got a massage and ordered room service and just was present. I woke up the next morning for the sunrise and was able to reflect on what a blessing each day is, and how happy I am to be alive.
- I have developed a certain level of comfort that I’m used to- and I’m okay with it. As I traveled to Thailand, many people suggested that I just bring a backpack, and stay at hostels. As a single traveler, that is the best way to meet people. I did stay at my first hostel during the trip, which was an experience, but I stayed at hotels a majority the nights while I was traveling. I did a fair amount of roughing it while volunteering. For two weeks I was living with no warm water, only one flushing toilet (that rarely worked, so I was forced to use toilets that you had to flush yourself or squat toilets), and sleeping under mosquito nets in a room with 12 single beds. I was very uncomfortable, and at times wondered if I’d make it for the full two weeks. For a while I started to question myself and wonder if I’m too high maintenance, but by the end of my trip, I came to terms with the fact that I’m 33, and I’ve developed a life for myself where I can take advantage of certain comforts- and that’s okay. Volunteering is an experience I’ll never forget, and there is definitely value in living the way we did. I’m just okay with only experiencing it for quick camping trips- not all of the time.
Many people have asked would I do it again- the answer is yes. This trip was so valuable and such an important learning experience for me. I learned about what I can tolerate in life, and what makes me truly happy. Looking forward to continuing to write about my adventures.