I- Free rein
Breaking self-imposed boundaries
Your friends have always been by your side, and this is true for the good and the bad moments in life. Travelling is just another chapter you share with your pals, until adult life puts an end to it. “Sorry man, I have to work all summer”. “Oh, sounds like a nice plan, but I’m spending my holidays with Tara”. “Can we go one week later? I can’t miss my mom’s birthday dude”.
Yeah, everybody has a job now, and those endless school summer holidays are over. So you have a plan, or you innocently still believe you have a viable plan. Well, nope. I’ve never liked holiday seasons, because nowadays every place you want to visit is probably overcrowded. Travelling gets easier and cheaper, which has its perks too.
Anyway, I thought I’d free up my October to visit South East Asia with a couple of friends. We were all in... until a few weeks before buying our plane tickets I found myself alone. How? One friend decided that it was financially impossible (which, of course, was only an excuse) to plan a two week adventure; the other one simply submitted to his boss mandates and found yet another limit in adult life. Fuck this!
This was my window of opportunity, something that had already crossed my mind. Should I adapt to my mates? Should I go by my own? Definitely the second one. It’s been a few years since I’ve started to fantasise about travelling around the world. The easier way, given the difficulties of coordinating a couple of weeks of holidays with family and friends, is doing it by yourself.
A question arised, could I travel solo?
When you click buy, you can sense a brim of relief. A mental clock starts to tick away the months/days/hours/minutes/seconds left until your plane departs. After finding myself alone for my next adventure, I scanned airline tickets with no limitations, painting my desired route in a blank canvas.
I finally went for Thailand after considering Philippines (typhoon season was risky), Guadeloupe (a friend lives there... motherfucker) and the Azores (expensive for solo travelling). Because I surf, I always try to choose places that will allow me to catch waves, so Thailand wasn’t the obvious choice but still qualified.
Because there was still indecision in my heart, I went for Thailand. It was the most explored destination, and this gave me a bit of relief in a sense of security and logistics. Yes, I was travelling alone. At first, I felt nervous and uneasy, but once my flight departed I knew it was going to be fine.
Not everyone is made for travelling alone, but at least you gotta try. After coming back, people still acts amazed that I could go by myself to a place like Thailand, but I don’t really get it. It was fine, and it was fun!
I have always loved planes. My grandma has never been on one, because she’s afraid of flying, but luckily that panic didn’t filter through the rest of family. The first time I remember myself on a plane was in Australia, which is like playing basketball for the first time in an NBA game.
I was nine, but I remember vividly how I spent more than 30 hours in the stratosphere to get to Sydney. It was awesome and exciting, because the Singapore Airlines planes were sick and full of gimmicks for a little kid like me. I played video games, watched the latest movies, ate like a king and slept a bit, of course. I wasn’t tired though, because planes are promises. Planes, for me, are the inevitable sign of something new around the corner. When you get in you’re home, but when you leave the cabin you’re far away from it.
Sorry, let’s get back to the point. I was telling you these because travelling to Thailand gave me the opportunity to board the biggest commercial airplane ever made, the Airbus A380. It’s a beast and quite an experience for any plane lover, so if you’re planning a trip with an Emirates route you might wanna try (they have 91 A380, so it’s easy to end up in one of them; the next company on the list has ‘only’ 19).
After flying Qatar in January for my trip to Bali, Emirates was the confirmation that these gulf companies give the best service to their clients. I loved the food, the onboard screen, the leg room in my seat and the newspapers given for free at Dubai airport. In the end, in Europe we’re used to flying cheap, and cheap means uncomfortable.
Don’t get me wrong, I always try to adjust my spendings, but when you want to cross half the world you will have to scour your pocket. This is actually funny, because in these kind of trips, you spend more money on the plane rather than off the plane. In Bali I spent two thirds of the final budget on the ticket (800€ of 1200€), but in Thailand I reduce the percentage to 50% (600€ of 1200€).
Why? Because traveling alone is more expensive once you get to your destination. You don’t have anyone to share a taxi or a room, for instance.
But well, you also find out this can change soon.
Three days between temples and chaos
After checking myself out of customs I wandered around, alone at last. Inside the plane there was still the embrace of the cabin crew, outside was Bangkok and its unknown nightlife. Before taking a cab to my hostel, I bought a Thai Sim Card for my smartphone in order to have Internet access all throughout my trip, a decision I made after not being able to download Google Maps for the region and also to know that I had a secure backup plan in my pocket at all times.
The good thing is that communications are really cheap in Thailand, or at least they’re for tourists. I didn’t use it for WhatsApp, only to feel safe and have a map in my pocket. It turned out to be a great decision, although I’d say its better to turn yourself off when you want to travel and meet new cultures and people.
The taxi driver didn’t know English but I managed to get me dropped close to my place. He parked in a narrow street alley and already wanted me to pay him a bit more than the normal price. I don’t remember if I just gave it to him or I managed to get rid of him without dropping some dimes. My hostel was a cute little cafe with dorm rooms 15 minutes from Khao San Road, the mecca (and ghetto) for backpackers in Thailand.
It was cozy, cheap and calm. I was hungry, so after leaving my backpack in the locker, I went for my first stroll in Bangkok. Narrow and dark streets stood between me and my target, the backpackers centre, where I was hoping to find other newcomers. Walking alone in a city unknown made me uneasy, but nothing happened and the neon lights were soon dazzling me.
Khao San is a luminous and noisy spot in the city centre where all backpackers started their trips in the past. Now it’s an attraction and a spot to party hard (and dirty). I had my first meal, a Pad Thai from a food post in the middle of the street which was delicious and ridiculously cheap (30 baht, which equals 80 cents of Euro)
Between the loud dancehall music, a constant flow of tourists and young thais mixed in the busy street, drinking and dancing. The alcohol, actually, was more expensive than a full meal at any restaurant around, which gives an idea of what Khao San stands for nowadays.
Before getting back to my hostel, I got in a Thai teenage party in a pub, which looked like crazy stuff. A live band playing random hymns I didn’t understand and a lot of drunk people. Ok, so Thai can be that, but I wasn’t here to party.
The rain started to drop after the sky welcomed me with thundering skies... it rained like hell, but it didn’t bother me.
I knew it was rainy season, and that’s why there were less tourist but also, and notably, less sun. Nevertheless, I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning on my second day in Bangkok. I didn’t bring any guide to Thailand, but in all my trips I’ve managed to find old books and notes from past travellers that kindly leave their footprints in the hostels common rooms. No need to carry that.
With no plans, I glanced through a couple of guides and planned my visit in Bangkok while eating a delicious English Breakfast (not bold at all there, I know). Anyway, I started my tour in Chinatown, which raises the question: who came first, the Chinese or the super cities? Now that I’m asking, how do they all live in the same place and selling the same random and shitty stuff? Really.
Apparently, I learned, Mondays are the new Sundays in Thai. I walked around, but of course being Monday aka Sunday doesn’t stop the frenetic Chinese neighbourhood. The street markets were dirty, but precisely this made them authentic and cool. In Bangkok, I’d say, you can plan (or combine) three kinds of visits: the street strolling, the temple procession and the modern city tour.
The first two are easy to combine, since literally every corner features its own temple. Religion is huge there, and the successive emergence of Wats (which means temples in Thai) will leave you exhausted. On my first full day I managed to visit half the city centre and got to see the reclining Buddha (at Wat Phra Pho), the highest temple (Wat Phra Arun) and the shiniest one (Wat Saket aka Golden Mount).
Lots of stuff in a few hours, and to cap it off, rain came again and I let myself be fooled by a Tuk-Tuk driver. Scams are common in the capital, and this guy offered me a 10 baht drive to see three attractions. It was getting dark, I was tired and the rain wanted to leave me wet and ready for bed. I took the bait.
At first it was fun, and I definitely recommend getting a proper Tuk-Tuk ride. It’s unsafe, quick and genuine, but just be careful. Cheap rides mean the driver will nicely ask you to help him out for gas. “If you go to this store and buy a suit, a real nice suit, they will give me a free refill” “What? No way, I’m not buying a suit”. “Ok, ok, but you just need to pretend you’re interested”.
So I did it, I went to a store and heard all about this marvellous silk suits, better than the Armanis and Guccis, the guy said. He had a hard look and was measuring my intentions. I tried my best, but in the end he knew I wouldn’t come back for the suit I was “interested in”. The driver didn’t get his gas, and he asked me for another stop to make it even. I ditched the proposal, he got angry and finally agreed to drive me to my last stop.
After getting to the top of Wat Saket, I found that he he left without me and I had to walk by myself to my hostel. Luckily it was a few streets from where I was. It was pitch dark and I had to cross narrow alleys to get there, but nothing happened. But it could have been really bad if I was left alone in any other place far from the hostel... here, the Internet access proved a great resource.
Now I knew the rhythm of the city: incessant and sleepless. Thais went to sleep late, and I often found on my way back to the hostel small demonstrations of quiet people looking at their smartphones at the doors of closed restaurants and stores. The search and need for WiFi, apparently.
It was a long day that ended with a beer in the road opposite to Khao San, a bit more relaxed and interesting if you ask me. Live music in bars, a smaller crowd and a chance to talk (rather than shouting) with fellow travellers. Since arriving in Thailand I hadn’t met with anybody, so I was a bit anxious. Was I made for this?
Raquel was the answer to that. Yes I was. I met her while listening to a talented cover band while drinking a Singha, one of the local beers. She was sitting next to me, or to be honest, I seated myself next to her. I thought she was Italian, but in fact she was from Valencia. Huh, my first Hi was the usual Hola in Barcelona. We had a nice chat, and she ‘baptised’ me in the art of travelling solo.
I overslept and woke up at 10:30. I still had to shake off the immense load of real life, if working all day is really living. It was my third day and I finished my BKK tour visiting the huge and beautiful Grand Palace, a residence of kings and a demonstration that monarchies just don’t make sense at all.
Thailand is still a poor country, but of course their beloved monarchs —which the people considers gods, and this is not a misinterpretation— live precisely like true deities. Thailand, presumably, is ruled by a dictatorship, so there’s that.
Another tyranny, as I’m finding out, is the discipline that requires the curation of a travel journal. I lost my way the fifth day, but already knew that it was its destiny before leaving Bangkok. Whenever you read a complete and precise journal, please applaud whoever made it, because travelling is easy, but reporting every aspect of ain’t not. In conclusion, I ended up trusting more in my memories, while filling the gaps with the pictures and videos (which are easier to take compared to noting down all your experiences).
From now on, this journal will reflect ideas and random thoughts that come to mind while I’m sitting in a bar in San Sebastian, five months after getting back to my regular life in Barcelona. Until now I didn’t have the time and will to start writing this. But I’m glad I did, because I will be able to look back at it anytime I want... if I keep writing.
Oh, get on with it! After finishing the main attraction in the city centre, which is the real deal in Bangkok, I went for a quick look of the modern area of the city. It was like a giant flea market mixed with luxury stores and skyscrapers. The noise got louder and the pollution was now filling my lungs. This is the story, I presume, of all South-East Asia big cities. I had enough.
I spent another night with Raquel, chatting and learning all about her great and improvised adventures. Solo travelling needs that: uncertainty and long talks with complete strangers. Note it down.
I feel that I’ve been writing for quite some time now and you’ve probably learned nothing about Thailand,so I’ll throw a few quick recommendations about Bangkok: local food is cheap and great, but don’t eat near the river o main roads (too expensive); foreign food is also great when you need familiar tastes in your mouth, so that’s a go too; finally, Tuk-Tuk drivers and Taxis won’t take you if you’re too close to a place because they don’t see the dollar signs in your eyes.
Hope that’s useful, let’s move on to Chiang Mai!
III— Chiang Mai
Green is always better
To start things off in a better way, I’ll just note another tip before leaving my lines on the capital. The traffic is horrible, and I barely made it on time to the airport. I was lucky and instead of getting a cab used Grab, which is the asian Uber and works great as long as the drivers get what you’re telling them (mine didn’t quite understand English, but at least she understood “airport”).
The flight attendants at the airport desk laughed at my passport, which was a WTF to start my trip to Chiang Mai, the main city in the north of the country, the most fertile and green area of the country. Apparently, I look familiar to these thais... but nobody knows why ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Anyway, I took a Thai Smile plane that I previously booked while in Barcelona. I had my stops pretty much planed, so it was really cheap to get these internal flights. I really recommend it. In Asia, unlike Latin America or Africa, cheap airlines exist just like in Europe. Take advantage with local companies or Air Asia, the oriental Ryanair. I land at 8pm, get a cab and stumble into the heart of the city.
Chiang Mai is a big city with a population of 700.000, but the old city centre is only 4km2, so the main attractions can be visited in a couple of days. This city will require some adventure time, buses and/or guided tours if you want to get the most of it. In my case, I took a tour to White Temple (Chiang Rai) and Black House and hired a motorcycle to explore the rich surroundings of the city by myself.
It was late and I left my stuff in Eden Walking Street Hostel, which is a must if you stay a few nights in the city. Ding Dong, the owner, is the most sociable, reliable and incredible host I’ve had in my trips around the world.I took a walk around town and headed to the night bazaar, which for me was a bit dull. If there’s no essence, something that outstands from the rest of these night markets, what’s it worth?
For me, seeing a night market with McDonald’s signs and KFC’s is losing the charm. I had a decent meal, a cold Chang and went to bed.
Note: from here on, I’m writing these on memories, videos and pictures. Too bad I didn’t write down more things, but it’s how I wanted it at that time, I guess.
I spent my second day in Chiang Mai enjoying the old city treats: of course, more temples were waiting: Wat Phra Sing, Wat Chedi Luang... well, it’s just all about the same. I noticed a lot of gold statues, elephants and Buddhas, and wandered around town while the sun and heat made me sweat... a lot.
When I was visiting Wat Phan Tao I stumbled into a graduation day or something similar in Thai culture. Kids and teenagers were leaving the school precinct inside the temples area, marching with huge sticks filled with bahts that seemed like an offering for their deities. It was a fun sight, specially since they were playing drums and trumpets all over the place. It was a nice contrast with the usual silence that surrounds all these areas. At night, I must say, I also found that next to the temple close to my hostel there was also a school, and the kids were playing football with foreigners. I guess temples and schools are very tight in Thailand, which makes sense since everyone seems to be a huge devotee.
At midday I was already dehydrated, so I stopped by a Woman Correctional Institution to get cool iced tea. I’d say it’s a must stop since you’re around. Remember, everything in Chiang Mai is inside those four square meters. Having a drink (or potentially, you could go for a Thai Massage) around ex-cons was curious, a good experience and another way to give back to a country of kindness. The spot, located in a corner close to the north wall, was sun-covered by huge trees and was ideal to take a break.
I wandered around a bit more and headed to lunch to an Indian restaurant, one of my food debilities from my Erasmus year in Britain. Of course, it was excellent although I was the only customer in the whole place. I guess being in low season avoided me bigger crowds overall. The name of the local, an obvious one: New Delhi.
Tired after an intensive morning of sightseeing I went back to the hostel and met some other backpackers. I was amazed by their stories. A french guy was just stoping over before heading back to Paris after 11 months of working and exploring in New Zealand; a belgian dude just quitted his job and was starting his RTW experience. I was already daydreaming about my own (future) gap year.
I ended up the busy day in Thaphae Boxing Stadium, were I witnessed a muay thai event. The sport was good and noble, just like those boxing books I love to read portrait... but it is true, I was disgusted when I saw 13-14 year olds in the ring kicking their asses [read more about this in VICE Sports]. I liked the athmosphere, but hated to pay for watching kids doing that. In Thailand, actually, there are a lot of Mafias working in these environments.
Tradition can blow too, of course.
For my second day in Chiang Mai I decided to take a ‘guided’ tour. To be honest, there was not much of guiding included, but I still enjoyed it. Because I didn’t have much time to spare, I went for this option instead of spending a few days in Chiang Rai, which is the northern province in Thailand.
Otherwise, if you have the time, I’d probably recommend to spend some nights there. I visited the basics of the region in one day but missed a bit of the rich and green surroundings that are probably best explored without haste. This meant to forget about nature and go straight to the temples: Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) and Baan Si Dum (Black House), which have a really cool story behind them.
Both of them, to be straightforward, are temples designed to please tourists (which includes locals). Both places are not meant to venerate Buddha or any other religious leaders, although tourism might just be the 21st century religion. Knowing this, both places are really enjoyable. The White Temple is, as the name implies, a shiny and sumptuous place. Let’s put it this way, it’s a great attraction for the Instagram generation.
The whole white thing represents the idea to make merit and to focus on the mind, instead of material things and possessions, according to the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat original idea. I’m not sure people gets that, because probably most of them just smirks at the sight of Bin Laden, Bush, Michael Jackson and other famous people depicted inside the temple walls. This of course, stands out, although no photos are allowed... so, you know, gotta go to really experience it.
Kositpipat (62) is one of the most renowned artists in Thailand, and if you’re lucky you might find him at spot. You won’t find his co-citizen and artistic antagonist, Thawan Duchanee, who died in 2014. His Black House is as astonishing as the shiny white temple. Of course, the vibes of the building are the opposite. “Everything in here represents the circle of life — birth, aging and decay”, said Duchanee, who actually lived in the place.
Huge tall and obscure buildings are scattered through the vast area of the installation, which features all kind of animal skins and bones. This place is haunting and fascinating in indescriptible ways, and I loved it. Because it is not close to anything, it is tricky to get there without organized tours or transportation.
Anyway, the history of both buildings, still ongoing projects, reminds me a bit of a football rivalry from neighbour teams, like Barcelona and Madrid. The good thing is the guys had a healthy relationship and positioned the city as an art hub.
The only fucked up thing about the day was the trip, which took more than five hours both ways. The roads in Thailand are rough, and this is something to consider if you plan on getting many buses to move around. I went for the plane for the long journeys, so I was fine.
After sleeping on the way back, I relaxed a bit in the company of other backpackers at the hostel and planned a night out with my host, Ding Dong. Being an arts & crafts area, music was of course a thing in Chiang Mai. We shared beers with locals at the amazing North Gate Jazz Co-Op, a tiny, noisy pub located in... well, the name says it all.
How awesome is the North.
I’ve never been a big fan of motorcycles, something my parents instilled in me since a was little kid. Bikes are dangerous and treacherous, and this idea stuck with me. For some time, when I was 16 I wanted to own a scooter, like most of my friends, but they were persistent and I forgot about it.
I have ridden bikes before and I actually like the sense of freedom you get, the wind on your face and all that stuff. You know. So I planned out that I was going to ride around some places in Thailand. I payed for my international driver’s license before leaving and I was good to go. My first rental was in Chiang Mai, were I planned to ‘get lost’ in the surrounding areas of the town.
I went to Doi Suthep, a mountain that rises above the northern city. The ride was already super fun, and up there I could visit many attractions. First I visited the Bhuping Palace, the Royal Family Winter Residence. As previously established in Bangkok’s Grand Palace, it was another sign of flashiness and contrast between the rich and the poor. On my way up, the streets were filled with filthy stalls... and suddenly, in a privileged spot, a huge palace with booming gardens of roses and all kinds of flowers around stood magnificent.
After paying a small price (don’t remember, but for us would be about one buck) I entered the place and chilled around the beautiful estate. Why would kings need all this stuff? They just stay there two months, usually between January and March. The palace is then, of course, closed to the public.
Next stop was downhill. Wat Phrathat is a beautiful temple, but the views are even better. After going up more than a hundred steps, you have a nice reward on top, probably the best view of the city on a clear day. For me it was cloudy, but still... Just before nightfall I got to the foot of the mountain and visited yet another temple, this one with humid tunnels deep in the woods (Wat Umong, if you wanna check it out).
To finish my riding day, I went up again, enjoyed the road and watched the cloudy sunset over the city. It started raining on my way back, but as I can prove by writing this I’m still alive. No frights nor scratches.
IV- Phuket & Phi Phi
Islands in the clouds
With my first week wrapped up, already flowing in another rhythm, my job far away in my subconscious, I took a bus to the airport. The fact that the driver and his family where all there, just chilling in an early Sunday morning didn’t even feel like a weird thing. But tell me, have you ever seen a five year old sleeping next to the gearshift?
After stumbling by a bookshop in the airport, I decided I’d buy a book to complement my stay at Thailand, and since I was going to the south, were all the islands and paradise beaches are, I thought buying The Beach by Alex Garland —yeah, the DiCaprio movie— was the right move. And it was, and you should read it (not watch it). I started reading on the plane, so the flight was a wisp. Besides the words, I do recall the crystalline blue waters of the Indian Ocean from a bird’s-eye view... looked promising.
After getting to my hostel on the western side of the island —at Kamala beach, if you wanna check the spot—, I went for a walk in town with Marcus, a brazilian mate I had just met. Quick tip: brazlians are really nice, so hang out with them as much as you can. We went for a traditional meal, sticky rice with Mango and then went to the rental shop to get a scooter for me. Motorcycling in this places is awesome and useful, so as long as you’re careful, try it out.
We spent the afternoon at the beach, where I taught my new pal to surf with the small waves of the afternoon. I love this about surfing, how literally everyone who tries wants a second go at it. And teaching it is also refreshing and, of course, a lot of fun.
We finished at sunset, but clouds didn’t reveal the best dusk scenario, or at least not the best photographic conditions. I think we had dinner at a beach stall with a Newzealander and then, exhausted by the plane and the surfboard, we crashed into bed.
Before starting this trip, I doubted a lot between two destination: Thailand or Philippines. The second choice made for a better surf spot, but the weather would have been considerably worse. Also, I felt safer in a more touristic destination overall. In the end, I didn’t know how I would fare so I went for my ‘safe’ choice.
I bring this up because my mind is really shaped according to my surfing habits. Its like a fever that never cools off. I need to surf, and when I travel I do look for countries with great and known spots. Although Thailand is not specially known for its waves, they do exist... and I was lucky enough to catch a couple of surf day in western Phuket.
I rode down to Kata Beach, a good 45 minutes ride from my place at Kamala Beach, and got a look at the conditions. Not optimal, and quite windy, but I decided going for a session anyway. The guy at Phuket Surf (the store’s name) was really kind and let me switch boards a couple of times. For something close to 10 euros I spent all morning catching waves and drawing smiles with the locals. The sun shone when I got out from the water. I was starving and next to the beach I had a beach stall, where I had and awesome Pad Thai with seafood. It couldn’t get more fresh nor delicious.
Good surfing, good food and great weather? What else do I need in life? Well sure, girls, I’ll give you that. In the afternoon I spent another hour riding up some steep heels to get to The Big Buddha Phuket, where astonishing sights were awaiting... unfortunately it was cloudy, so apart from being amazed by the dimensions of the thing, I couldn’t get much more from that.
Again, riding with the scooter through the narrow and wild roads was awesome, discounting the highway bits, in which all the pollution attacked you in the eyes and lungs.
My third day in Phuket was again all about surfing and wandering around with my new pals. We tried to go to an interesting beach near Patong, but it costed me the only lung I had left, so we changed plans and skipped right back to Kata beach for another sesh of surfing.
Looking back, I just realized I’ve skipped my previous night. I went for a discovery walk in Patong. The fact that I didn’t shoot a single picture of what I saw there is a good summary of my experience there, but I’ll leave a few concepts in the air for you to grasp: strippers, drunk tourists, loud music, crappy buildings... you get it, I’m sure.
After my night in Patong, changing the scenery seemed like a good choice for escaping the large crowds and tourist saturation. After meeting Hannah, a 18 year old girl from Germany that shared with me the following days, we both went to the harbour and took a boat to Phi Phi Islands.
This, of course, was precisely the opposite of escaping from resorts and drunk teenagers parties. If you’re really not into that, better forget about the south of the country and most of the islands. Phi Phi is, by far, one of the most overcrowded places in the region and thus, one of the most ruined. Yikes. I did choose that spot intentionally though, because it was the most accessible and I didn’t mind actually discovering how bad —or good, maybe everyone’s wrong— it was.
They weren’t. It was ridiculous how beautiful yet stupidly broken it was. Apparently, the Phi Phi Islands were already crowded by the time the infamous tsunami that killed almost 8.000 people struck the coasts of Thailand in 2004. Well, instead of protecting the little beauty left in the place, the government and the private sector rebuilt the whole island to squash it even more. The result is that what could have been and idilic place has lost 90% of its charm.
Hey, but let’s be positive. I did enjoy my time there, and the 10% of untouched land was still quite impressive. I would still recommend it for those who can bare two days between loud dudes and aggressive merchants —bracelets, PADI courses, hikes or pub crawls, you name it and they will sell it to you—. One of the first things I noticed was how beautiful the island actually was by hiking to the top of the hill, an easy climb but hard because of the heat.
Contemplating the sunset, again spoiled because of a few clouds, was relaxing. The following days, I combined a bit of partying (with some crazy people, to be honest) with little sleep because I was living in a hostel that was literally a party dorm room. Just a door, and inside, 14 bunk beds that fitted as tight and messy as the buildings did in the island.
The good part was laying on the beach doing nothing, or actually reading my book. Eventually, I took a boat ride to Maya Beach, which is were the DiCaprio film was shot. Because I went in low season, I actually enjoyed small crowds and could take some pictures all by myself in the spot. And although I had to pay like 20 euros to get in, I do believe it was worth it (I’d say otherwise if it were summer and all the tourists were getting in between my shots, which is the most probable scenario there). Luckily, it wasn’t my case.
After chilling a few days and sharing meals and conversations with Hannah, a fascinating women that had never left Germany nor taken a plane before her Thai adventure, my trip was close to an end. She had guts and proved a point: she spent one month by herself and nothing bad happened to her.
I was happy because I made it, I managed to travel by myself for two weeks, survive and have fun at all times. Also, I met some awesome friends who I’m still texting from time to time, and that is the best thing of it all. Meeting people along the way, relating memories to personalities and enriching your knowledge of other culture meanwhile.
After three days in Phi Phi, I went to the beach one last time before catching the ferry back to Phuket Town. I had a day and a half left in asian soil and didn’t know what to expect from the capital of the region. Firstly, it is not a touristic destination and there’s not much to do, but there are some random museums and a good bunch of restaurants and cafes. I was super lucky and got to enjoy the first day of the Vegetarian Festival, one of the biggest celebrations in the country. I didn’t know it was happening, so it was a lovely surprise to cap it off.
So I spent my last day in Thailand enjoying a comfy room, going out for food and walking around a busy town, a tiny recap of all that Thailand has to offer to the world. Small streets, worn out but colourful buildings, smiley nice people and delicious food, nature and culture. I walked the streets alone, just as I started my trip two weeks ago, in Khao San Road, where all backpackers have virtually started their journey, where Richard started his in The Beach, the book I’ll finish on the plane back home, a perfect literary companion for my journey here.
I’ve learned a lot of stuff. The first one: it’s not easy to keep track of your adventures on a diary. It takes discipline, and I only lasted five days. Secondly, I’ve learned that yes, I can travel alone, by myself, and be comfortable. It’s the best way, undoubtedly, to meet new friends and understand other cultures, to become, in the end, a better and more comprehensive human being. And the last conclusion, of course. I’ve been writing this for almost ten months, which just shows how modern life sucks life itself. Living is better when you take your time and do what you want.
That is why, this week, I’m leaving my job. What comes next is the following: living my life.
25th of June, 2017. Barcelona.
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