It’s Thanksgiving. November 28th, 2019. This day marks a year ago that I had arrived in Bangkok. Over sweet potatoes with marshmallows and stuffing, I read my mom the first few entries from my journal during this time. It was a whirlwind. Over the course of seven days throughout those pages, my outlook completely changed. I want to share that.
11/28/18 - Day 1
Here I am. I’m in Bangkok, Thailand. And, that confidence from a few months ago? Yeah, it is COMPLETELY gone. I feel scared, lonely, so fucking uncomfortable. I don’t know why I thought I could do this. I’m out of my depth. I’m only good at pretending I can do things, and now that I’m actually doing them, I feel like a complete moron. I traveled for almost 24 hours on planes to get here and now all I want to do is go home. I’ve never felt so weak or stupid or out of place. I thought I’d love eyes on me, but here, I just don’t. I miss New York already. Perhaps the most depressing aspect is knowing that I thought doing this would make me happy. I thought that my whole life, and I feel more miserable than ever.
Everyone keeps saying it will get better, and maybe they’re right. Maybe once I get into the city it’ll feel a little more like home. This feeling of dread, nausea, and lost-ness is almost like how I’d feel when my mom dropped me off at sleepaway camp every year. I would spend the first 2-3 days trying desperately not to cry, and then, out of nowhere I’d never want to leave. I really, really, REALLY hope that happens. I don’t want to be the person who only feels okay in places and with people I know. I am not that person. I explore abandoned insane asylums for fun, dammit. I can do this. I got this. Even I don’t believe that, but I’m going to keep saying it.
11/29/18- Day 2
Today was better than yesterday. I still feel super weird and uncomfortable, but I made it through a bunch of stuff today and I did it without help from anyone else. That makes me feel a little okay, even though I still have the strong urge to flee. My airbnb host took me to breakfast. His name was Pichet. He didn’t speak much English, but he was very nice. After he left for the gym, I ordered a taxi. On my way outside, it took me about ten minutes to figure out how to open the apartment building door. Turns out, you need to push a button to exit some buildings in Thailand. Seems like a fire hazard, but okay. The taxi driver spoke absolutely NO English, and couldn’t find me. I somehow managed to give my phone to another guy who also spoke knew English, but understood the word ‘taxi’. He directed the driver to where I was. It was hectic, and for a moment, I thought, “See, I can’t do anything on my own. I can’t even walk out the door!”, but I thought on my feet and it worked out. It was about an hour drive to my hostel in the heart of the city. I got checked in easily. The hostel is really clean and cute. There looks like there’s only one other girl in my room, but she hasn’t left her bed since I got here. After I settled in, I walked to Lumpini Park. I didn’t stay very long, but I was glad that I directed myself there and back. I got some coconut water and a red bean bun, and walked around some more. Now, I’m back at my hostel. Already super tired. I haven’t met any traveler friends yet though, and that scares me because I want someone to go to Chiang Mai with. Still sorta sad and lonely. I hope to meet some people tomorrow.
11/30/18 - Day 3
Good morning. It’s 9:30 AM, and I’m eating the free breakfast at the hostel (cornflakes & toast w/ jam). Plus a very delicious cappuccino. I still feel pretty shitty. I haven’t really met anyone still (except for two random guys from my hometown on tinder, but they’re going to Krabi today). I wish I said yes to going. I’m pretty lonely. It’s not that I’m unhappy to be here, I just think I’d be having so much more fun if I was with literally anyone. I just feel kind of depressed. Or, very depressed. Whichever. The tentative plan for the day is to go get my laundry done, go get my last vaccine at the Thai Travel Clinic and maybe go to the Grand Palace. I just really wish I wasn’t doing it alone.
Day 3- Cont’
Today has actually been going well. I thought it’d be bland because I had to go get my JE vaccine. I ended up meeting two girls from Brussels, and two solo travelers from Canada at the clinic. One of the Canadians was staying at my hostel ironically enough! I think I’m going to a rooftop bar with them later.
I think parts of me are already changing. As I write this, I’m sitting in a restaurant, down an alley, by myself, waiting for a dish I pointed out on the menu because I didn’t know what anything was. Me, the same girl who would study a menu for hours before daring to step out and order it to go because I’d never eat in a restaurant alone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine being alone, in the comfort of my own apartment. But, out in the world, where I’m being seen, NO WAY! I don’t feel that at all here. I just don’t care. Maybe it’s because nobody knows me here and I’m enjoying the allure. The loneliness and sadness still comes in waves, but I’m finally starting to feel in my element again. Powerful. More powerful than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m starting to feel like I’ve got this, for real.
12/1/18- Day 4
Last night was SO much fun. I went to a rooftop bar with this guy named Luke, where we were the only tourists there. We had beers, talked for hours, and listened to the Thai performers. Then, we came back to my hostel, and had a few more beers with a girl staying there named Grace, and some of the people who worked there. We all ended up hanging out and discussing open relationships, politics, festivals, college, and drugs until the early hours of the morning. It was one of those nights that was so simple, but so amazing at the same time. I’m really starting to love this.
12/2/18- Day 5
Right now, I’m sitting on Railay Beach, off the coast of Krabi with three German girls introduced to me by a Swedish girl named Nina, who I met at my hostel in Bangkok. Somewhere over the course of a breakfast, she told me I should book a flight to Krabi for the weekend, and I did it. Spontaneity, right?
This beach is probably is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Even with it being very crowded and upwards of 100 degrees. It’s almost indescribable, and I’m usually pretty adept at explaining. We’re in the belly of these jagged mountains, draped in melting variations of green. The mountains open up into the mouth of silky, warm water and soft sand. I can’t even imagine how great a joint would be here. Just turn up the notch on the colors. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about describing it or keeping the lock on my memory bank. I’ve already taken about a hundred pictures.
12/4/18- Day 6
Okay, I know I’ve missed a day, and I swore I wouldn’t, but I have an excuse: I’ve been busy! Plus the events of yesterday were mostly traveling back to Bangkok while being very, very hungover. The night I last wrote turned out to be beyond fun. After a full day at the beach, we took a longboat back to the shore of Krabi in a lightning storm, which was only a little terrifying. We got dressed to the nines and went to a ladyboys show, followed by a night of drunken adventures. The show was hilarious, and the night was wild. We danced in a strip club (clothes stayed on), I dominated at beer pong, one of my newfound friends got a fucking bamboo stick & poke tattoo! I’ve had a lot of crazy night, but it was definitely one of a kind.
We even capped the night with fries from Burger King. We met two German guys while one of the girls was getting a tattoo and ended up hanging out with them for a few hours. One of them I would say I vibed with a little more. He was very cute, tall, and sweet. He’s meeting me in Chiang Mai tomorrow. Hopefully we get along as well sober.
11/5/18- Day 7
I’ve officially been in Thailand for a week, but it feels like so much longer. Not in a “this is draining on and on” way, but rather, “I’ve done so much this week that it feels impossible that it’s only been a week!” way. It seems my new ritual is writing when I go out to eat by myself, which is also becoming one of my favorite activities. I’m eating a dish that’s famously amazing in Chiang Mai. One which I can’t remember the name of for the life of me, but oh my god it might be the best food I’ve had yet!
I went to this market called ‘Warorot Market’ and it was intense and packed. Kind of like Times Square, but composed entirely of little booths, each with their own speciality. Everything you can imagine. Food, clothes, jewelry, trinkets, Buddha's! I bought a pair of tourist-y elephant temple pants for 100 Baht (3$), and a tote bag so I don’t have to carry a backpack all the time for 60 baht. I miss the girls, and I’m looking forward to having some company again, but I really like it here. It has a good vibe, I felt it as soon as I exited the airport. I think I’m getting the hang of this traveling thing.
Before I went solo traveling, I watched countless Youtube videos and read endless blogs about the subject. It was overwhelming how many of them said the same thing. “You’re alone, but you’re never really alone,”. You meet people, you find your space. I thought the concept was a little corny, and maybe just plain false, but after going through it myself, I know it was anything but.