After spending 9 days in Taiwan last March, I decided about a week later, to go to Thailand for 3 weeks. Everyone raves about Thailand, how it’s so cheap and has amazing beaches and a ton of things to do. What made this decision to go on a trip different from the other ones I had in the past is that I was curious about the place mostly because of what other people have said about it, rather than my own interest (although I also was interested).
Should I go on this trip?
Financially, it didn’t make sense for me to go on this trip, as I have no stable income and my savings have been declining for the past several months (lol). As usual, when faced with a dilemma like this, I sat on my desk and wrote on my journal all the reasons to go and not to go, and the only issue I had was money. But I had time. Lots of time, which I can never get back (unlike money), so I went for it. #KatkatSaThailand
Packing for 3 weeks in a carry-on
Since I was trying to save money, I did not purchase check-in luggage, which then left me with 7kg baggage allowance for 3 weeks, including all my gadgets (laptop, laptop accessories, camera). It was very challenging to pack, but also very rewarding. I love to optimize, and that’s exactly what I did!
I had to wear dirty clothes a lot, do laundry a lot, use shampoo as body soap (bwahahaha), left some things that I really wanted to bring (headphones, sunglasses, reusable water bottle, shampoo, soap, etc). There were times when I wish I had more things with me, and just bought a check-in luggage, but that was a brief thought because I quickly realized I’m broke af. 😀
I didn’t like Bangkok.
Lots of people said.. stay away from Khao San Road. Then I stayed 5 minutes away from Khao San Road on foot. Hahaha. Khao San Road is a street in Bangkok full of street food, bars blasting loud music, people dancing wildly on the street. Think Sinulog but it happens every night. First time I went there, it was fun but I told myself it was the last time. I kinda hated it, but… ended up going there 3x on this trip. Still, no regrets! 😀
Before flying off to the south of Thailand, I wanted to spend a day visiting temples. In the end, I visited just one temple. It was great, but outside, I was met with shitty scammy taxi and tuktuk drivers. This made me feel really bad, and although I knew I had only seen a small fraction of Bangkok by this time, I started to kinda hate it.
Off to the islands…
Long story short, the islands just seemed like a knock-off of Palawan. Similar, but not as good. I know that’s unfair to compare, but couldn’t help it. Because of the limestone cliffs, it really reminded me of Palawan. Lubog pajud ilang tubig, WTF? Hahaha. Buuttt… best thing was I did a boat party and IT WAS A BLAST!! Think awesome island views, music, dancing, eating, swimming and ending with a beautiful sunset by the water. <3
Should I give Bangkok another chance?
Not my best moments… Emotional breakdowns. Maybe one, two, three? Hahaha. During the trip, I had been feeling like I didn’t fully want to be where I was. It just felt like work. I felt like I was forcing myself to go out and do things, and sometimes I just didn’t know what to do. And when I was doing something, I didn’t fully enjoy it. I missed that feelng of waking up excited to go out and explore… 🙁
I tried to pick myself up. I spent a day just relaxing. I got out of bed late, had a good meal, a massage, and went to the beach just in time for the sunset. I even meditated (at least tried to), and the sound of the waves were so soothing. This worked briefly. Then I found myself feeling upset again, then feeling guilty about feeling upset because I was being ungrateful. I tried to recover by spending a day at a cafe with my laptop, no pressure to do anything else. It worked temporarily.
I reached a point where I was thinking of changing my flight to Cebu to an earlier date. This meant I will not go back to Bangkok. I was not excited about Bangkok anyway, because I didn’t like it at all. To me, it was just a touristy place where people tried to make the most money from tourists.
But.. I wasn’t ready to give up on it yet. A lot of people love and hate Bangkok. So I thought, if some people love it, then there must be something to it that others didn’t see or failed to appreciate. I didn’t have to love it, because sometimes that’s just not how it works. We are different people with different interests after all. But I was determined and wanted to take on the challenge. If it didn’t work out, I’d at least learn something from it.
I (kinda) love Bangkok now.
On my first day, I met up with friends to see the Ghost Tower, and then we partied ’til dawn, and it was seriously the best day of my trip. Then I spent the remaining days wandering around on my own. The best part was the CLOTHES!!! Heaven for girls!!! Hahaha omg, my self-control was put to the test! I ended up with french fry earrings that was weird enough to be funny but not weird enough to be embarrassing to wear, a really good fitting crop top and a skort. I LOVE SKORTS! I usually have a problem with clothes being too big for me (even the smallest size) but in Thailand everything. was. perfect.!
On this trip, I got to know myself a little bit more.
I’m not really a beach person. While it seems great to lie down on the sand and take a nap, it’s also fucking hot and uncomfortable.
I love to dance, but hate it when the music is so crazy with so many beats all over the place. It’s just annoying.
7kg carry-on is DOABLE!!! It was long a mystery to me how others did it, but not anymore!
I love markets. Especially ones with a lot of clothes and cute stuff! And I prefer to do this activity solo. 😛
It’s okay to not 100% plan and book everything. I will change my mind sometimes and end up doing something else. It’s good to allow myself these changes so I don’t fall apart. lol (I kinda fell apart anyway)
I don’t like meeting a lot of new people all the time. It’s so exhausting to have many shallow conversations, having to explain the same thing over and over again to different people, hearing similar stories from others, or having to listen to someone telling the same story to another person which you already heard before. I would rather be with a smaller group, and preferably with people I’m already friends with. I’m an introvert, and I just have to learn to embrace it. 🙂
I like living in Cebu. It’s so comfortable, simple, easy, small, cheap and has very good weather.
Ordinary everyday places > Tourist spots
When solo traveling, I really only just have me (duh). I have to get out of bed even if it feels mentally impossible, in order to recover. Nobody’s gonna drag me out and make plans with me. Or sometimes, I have to say no, listen to what I really want, and just stay in bed to physically recover. And that’s okay.
Traveling isn’t all fun and glamorous and OOTD’s
For the first time ever, I felt a negative emotion towards a place. Usually, I think a place is awesome or cool or just “okay” but never anything bad. So when I felt like this during the trip, I didn’t know how to handle it. Then I realized the world is sooo big and there is so much variety and every place is different that it’s impossible to not find a place that I dislike.
I feel like social media rarely ever shows this not-so-great side of traveling. Over time, I’ve gotten lazy taking pictures of myself, dressing up and putting on make-up, because the reality is that traveling is exhausting. It’s exhausting having to plan everything along the way and make decisions. It’s exhausting to carry around all your stuff with you, moving from place to place. What has been the most exhausting for me was not liking the place (initially) and trying to give it one more chance, for one more day, and repeat.
There is magic in the universe.
When I was at the beach earlier in the trip, feeling down and trying to “pick myself up”, I was listening to a podcast by Aileen/Lavendaire. She was saying that there is magic in the universe, and we just need to be open enough to let it into our lives.
What was truly magical (miraculous even) for me, was that I had friends who I met back in the Philippines, meet up with me in a different country. The existence of these friendships was magic. The timing (we were at the same place at the same time?!) was magic. Their decision to come out and meet me was magic. My strength to keep going on the trip despite feeling so down was magic. Having so much time (3 weeks!!!) to spend on a trip was magic.
The universe is indeed magical in ways that seem very ordinary. This trip was uncomfortable, challenging, exhausting (having to solve one problem after another) but also magical, rewarding and transformative, and I’m so glad I did it! 🙂