I was so wrong and it turned out so right.
Having not been outside of Europe yet, when I spontaneously (and half jokingly) asked Jason if he wanted to visit a country for a month, and when his reply was “only if it’s Thailand” to which I was more than happy to agree on. My mind quickly created a list of apprehensions, worries and questions about what Thailand would be like, how would I navigate around this completely new culture and country and how would interactions with Thai people go?
With nothing to go on, I based it on my fairly lacking travel experience at this point. I have only recently began travelling properly. I was quite late to the party, with only getting on my first plane at the age of 19! But this was just your average all-inclusive beach resort in Spain (not quite Benidorm, but you get the idea.)
Now before Thailand, I had some good and bad travel experiences. Nothing to do with the countries or the people, it was 100% down to WHO I was travelling with (yes, I am blaming them – for the good too!) My favourite to date was my trips to Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar with an American man I have known for a while, which, (don’t tell him this) but I adore and look up to as a massive inspiration.
What inspired the crashing wave of apprehensions that flooded my monkey mind was actually Jason’s Itinerary for the trip. I won’t go into too many details in this post but I shall list my expectations here and maybe you can guess what he wanted to get up to…
- I thought I would have a very difficult language barrier, worse than in Europe.
- I feared being left alone in strange bars when Jason would be on the prowl for a particular business.
- General worry for being in a foreign country, fear for my safety.
- loneliness .
Let me tell you, the first day we arrived, picture two tired, hungry, pale, weak English people wandering around in the midday sun trying to find food near the airport. Eventually finding a food hall, I have never been stared at so much in my entire life! Now I know what I look like, freakishly tall, extremely pale and with a bleached buzzcut – I am expecting some stares. But literally the entire food hall of people almost stopped what they were doing to gawk. Being tired and hangry I did not take this well and mumbled and grumbled to Jason who didn’t care one bit he was more interested in the meat dishes he could buy for like 50p.
And yes I cried! I got back to the hotel I sat in my room I cried, I looked at flights back home. I admit I had a weak moment! No shame here.
But after a few days I came to realise the stares were okay and mostly in awe and were followed by very lovely comments – particularly from Thai women. Now my only issue was potentially having to check my BIG head in as extra baggage on my flights.
Language barrier? Yeah of course there was one but I have never met so many people so keen to try and speak to you! So different from my experiences in Europe, I felt very isolated in some European countries, but not here! Every chance they get they want to speak and I am more than happy to oblige!
And for the juicy part, as I am sure you have clocked on to what Jason’s Thai mission was, any bars, clubs and pubs we went into, they would ignore Jason and dive on me, link arms with me, and occasionally attempt to motor boat my chest (??) I have never felt safer in a countries night life even when I ended up getting whipped by a stripper in a Go Go Bar in Patong Beach, Phuket (sorry mum), I felt more welcomed and safe here than I have ever felt in the UK. I am sure there is trouble that happens and I will always have my common sense.
Now I may unpack these into separate posts as this one is more of a little snippet. we shall see.
But Thailand, I was wrong, and for that I am sorry!
Now THESE are the lessons I am searching for when I travel, I am looking to go beyond my comfort zone, to feel uneasy and to adapt.