Leaving the Comfort Behind in Thailand
My Thai taxi driver and I zoomed down the highway from the airport at record breaking speeds. Passing through tollbooths so fast that if you blinked, you’d miss the exchange of money. There wasn’t much to see out the window, so I attempted a conversation with the driver. He spoke about 15 words of english and I spoke about 2 phrases of Thai. The conversations were brief and filled with lots of laughter at our feeble attempts at communication. I felt like I was in a smog filled dream as we drove. How can I be here? After all these months of planning and talking about it, the time is now. It’s been rough. Let me just say, choosing to leave behind any level of comfort is hard. Personally, I left behind a town that I had finally gotten used to, friends i love and cherish, and my very cozy room on the second floor of a beautiful blue farm house surrounded by goats and horses. Why do any of us choose to leave behind the lives that we’ve spent some of our most formative years building? And, is it worth it? I’ll get back to you on that one.
Flash forward 2 weeks, and as we left Railay beach after an afternoon of boats serving us beer and pad thai along the shore, a storm came in. We waited under the shelter of a small structure with about 20 other tourists, the storm brewed stronger and stronger. “Time to go!”, our boat driver told us. “Right now? Alright…” we all said as we exchanged worried looks and nervous laughs. We grabbed our belongings and tried helplessly to shelter our belongings with our bodies and make the walk out to the boat. When we had arrived earlier, the boat had taken us straight to shore, but at that moment, we found out how drastically the tides change in Railay. We shuffled along with lightning striking the mountains around us. We feverishly attempted to stay on the broken remains of a sidewalk that laid about 2 feet beneath the murky ocean water. We led the group of tourists and moved slowly, trying not to trip. Once safely back in the boat, we shivered and laughed and sat impatiently as we took the cold longboat ride back to Krabi. We longed for those enticingly hot showers in our surprisingly chic hostel. My friend inspected her wound and we huddled under the thin top on the longboat. Oh, did i mention this had been right after my 8 hour overnight bus from Tak to Bangkok, my 1 1/2 hour flight from Bangkok to Krabi?
Thailand is a land full of surprises, and definitely not always the good kind. If you want to live here, you better have a good sense of humor. Sh*t happens. You gotta be able to roll with it and laugh along the journey. After my brush with an ocean monsoon, the days in the islands turned more and more into what I had imagined. Days spent lazing around by a pool, drinking sugary Thai cocktails (they add sugar to EVERYTHING), frolicking in beautiful azure waters with towering limestone cliffs making up the backdrop. I spent the bulk of my trip in Koh Phi Phi which is an island that’s small, beautiful, and full of tourists. I’ll save you the stories of my Koh Phi Phi debauchery, primarily because my mother might read this. I will say that I made some amazing friends from all over the world, got to limbo under fire, stand on the same beach Leonardo DiCaprio stood in the Beach (along with about 300 asian tourists), ate a lot of seafood, etc. I trust you get the picture; it’s a pretty fun place to act like a carefree backpacker.
I want to express is how terrifying it can be to make such a leap of faith into a new country and life, as temporary as it may be. But, also the fact that the most terrifying choices we make, tend to be the most memorable and most rewarding. I chose to teach abroad because I didn’t want to just be another backpacker in Southeast Asia. If you have the opportunity and means, why not really LIVE somewhere? Spend some time getting to know a new group of people, a new culture, a new lifestyle, and you will be rewarded with finding a deeper meaning in yourself as well. All of us have reasons we can come up with about why we can’t travel or take these risks. Here’s the thing, if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.
Author’s Bio: Hailing from the big city of Chicago, Chandler craves oceans, mountains, and the perfect sandwich. She has a long list of places to see before she dies, but first, another episode of this show sounds just fine.
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