As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I decided to go to Thailand by myself. Not really any plans except I knew I wanted to see some temples, volunteer, swim, get drunk atleast once, and be immersed in another world for a bit. It was a bit like Eat, Pray, Love meets Bridget Jones meets a hot mess.
lol. First of all, a lot of Thai people don’t speak English. So I picked up a few key phrases, and because I look ambiguously Asian, got away with being Thai many times, leading to many wonderful discounts and more respect hahah.
Second of all, I highly recommend going on a trip on your own just so you can go balls out with everything. I saw a fucking ping pong show. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. My best advice is this: Always be down for anything, be genuinely friendly, and be highly adaptable. I employ this tactic for pretty much everything I do. So, for part of the trip I joined a random tour group where I didn’t know anyone and it turned out to be fucking fantastic. I was able to see a lot of really beautiful places in a safe way, learn a lot about Thai culture, and I became close to two fabulous gays, two country gals, a NorCal couple with an affinity for wine and beer, and a random old dude whose sole purpose to go to Thailand was to score with a hooker. (And that he did). We all got along swimmingly. People are seriously happy when they’re on vacation and they’re super polite. It’s awesome.
Another reason why it’s pretty awesome travelling solo is because you can do pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want. Hedonism at its finest. When some new friends would ask me if I wanted to join them in eating mystery meat and drinking Thai whiskey by the dirty bucket on a street corner until 3 AM, I say yes! Let’s grab the closet Sky Train! When another new friend asked me to join on an excursion to the King’s palace and ancient ruins, I said of course, let me pull on my boots! When a random British man handed me a cold beer after a couple hours of night swimming on a secluded beach, I said hell yes! Let’s get unforgivably inebriated in this foreign place! Submerge your feet in this fish tank to let them eat your dead skin? Sure! Hop on the seat of this rickety motorcycle without a helmet and drive? Fuck yeah! Etc etc. Saying yes and being open to adventures and people have allowed me to experience a lot of really great things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to, had there been another person with me going by a different beat. Someone else saying they’re tired, they don’t feel like doing that, they hate drinking, etc. YOU can decide what you want to do and just do it!
Here is a quick list of things I did on my trip for friends that I have yet to catch up with (also for those curious about my whereabouts… I have become too lazy to recap everything and thus, this will have to do):
1. Cruised Bangkok’s river on a ship and a James Bond speed boat. There’s something really sexy about boats and the wind in your hair. You feel like a model until you realize you just look like an asshole with nappy hair.
2. Hung out in Bangkok’s red light district. All the stories are real. Lady boys, prostitutes, corrupted cops, bomb ass street food, typical foreigners partying hard and scoping out hookers with the feeling of desperation in the air like a sad, sexual cloud.
3. Rode a motorcycle and didn’t kill anyone
4. Saw traditional Thai dancing.
5. Then saw real live lady boys Thai dancing. could not tell the difference.
6. Walked on train tracks hundreds of feet mid air built by soldiers over half a century ago. The guy in the group who was there for the hookers nearly shit himself. Not gonna lie, I felt triumphant and like a straight A student in bad assery.
7. Rode an elephant and hugged the shit out of it. Also fed a baby tiger. Hugged the shit out of that too.
8. Made other animals friends. Apparently, they can sense awesome.
9. Made real friends. People usually can sense awesome, too.
10. Ate. A lot. Well in the beginning. Until I got hardcore food poisoning. Lost about 10 pounds. And kept eating anyway. Me thinks it could be the dirty noodle soup from the Floating Market. (They serve you noodles in a bowl, then when you’re finished, dip that same bowl into the dirty river, and re-use it for someone else). Could be. Who knows.
11. Skinny dipped in the ocean with girls I barely know.
12. Also, got drunk in said ocean. Funny enough, the skinny dipping happened before the drinking.
13. Saw an elephant play basketball. Also realized I do not like seeing animals doing tricks. It makes me sad they’re not free to be whatever they wanna be. Unless they wanna be a basketball playin elephant. Then consider that dream fulfilled, my wrinkly friend.
14. Freed birds at a temple for good luck. Temples are beautiful and monks are too.
15. Helped a new friend get tattooed by a Buddhist monk. Tried not to think about sanitation.
16. Learned a lot about Buddhism. Contemplated converting to Buddhism. Realized I am not all that religious to begin with. But pretty cool there is a religion out there that echoes some of my innermost thoughts.
17. Learned a few Thai phrases. Became excellent with my bartering skills and ended up bringing home way too many souvenirs.
18. Walked through slums where withered and starving men and women were literally lying in the streets covered in plastic bag and miscellaneous cardboard, to get to a swanky building where we rode up 50 floors and people, well nourished and lavishly dressed, were having ritzy cocktails and $300 dinners. The tragedy was not lost on me.
19. Had little access to internet most of my time there and quickly realized how much I rely on that bitch everyday. Also, toilet paper and working toileting systems. See: #10. Thank you, ‘Murica, for spoiling us all.
20. And last, but not least, I volunteered some of my frivolous energy to teaching different styles of dance to orphan children and runaway teenagers living in a shelter located in the “Sin City” of Thailand in hopes to turn them off of a life of drugs or prostitution for something tamer and safer such as art or dance. These kids grow up surrounded by circumstances that most of us will never have to face. A life of poverty, drug lords, prostitution, scraping to get by… real shit. Hope for something more is probably the best way I could describe their faces. A very humbling experience.
In the age where Facebooking, emailing, texting, and technology basically consumes much of our daily lives, there is still importance in human connection. If I have learned anything from this experience, it’s that we are all the same. We are all human beings, going through shit at one point or another, and we are all capable of connecting and understanding one another. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t speak the same language or you’re not from the same place. A smile begets a smile. Frantic gestures and snippets of new language learned and intonations and body language can help you accomplish a lot of things in a place where no one speaks your language. There’s an encyclopedia full of other ways to communicate. And we all have the capacity and intelligence to try and understand another person. I have found that this can make a world of difference in your life experience. I’ve also come to believe that a few things everyone should really learn and know how to say goes as follows: Hello, How are you?, I’m sorry, I love you, please, and thank you.
Especially “Thank you”.