I arrived in Bangkok on December 6th after 25 grueling hours in transit. If you’ve ever been to Bangkok, you know that it’s not exactly the the most comfortable city to walk while sleep-deprived, disoriented, and fresh off of a full day of layovers and air travel. Motorbikes with their exhaust mufflers removed scream past, touts persistently haggle, and the oppressive heat and humidity feels as if it permeates your skull. From the instant I touched down, I was daydreaming of serene white-sand beaches and turquoise waters.
I spent the first week or so visiting family and getting acclimated. My uncle’s friend Mam and her family took me out to a few incredible Thai meals, as did my cousin Mike and his wife Thanya. Thai hospitality is warm and welcoming. As much as I really enjoyed meeting and spending time with my Thai family over here, it didn’t take long until I started feeling a nag inside to head south to the islands.
I purchased my ticket and boarded the train that would take me from Bangkok’s Hua Lomphong train station, 900 kilometers south down Peninsular Thailand to Hat Yai. This is just about the farthest south that the average sane tourist would go before entering the province of Yala, one of three of Thailand’s southern territories ridden with daily car-bombs and other attacks waged against the state by terrorist insurgencies. I felt a sudden rush of liberation and excitement sweep over me, characterized by an ear-to-ear grin on my face and a bead of sweat on my forehead. The thing is, if I had wanted to visit that region of Thailand and see the direct results of Thailand’s separatist violence – all while risking my legs and other beloved limbs – I could have. I had nothing holding me back. I had graduated 7 months prior, and no longer had a university telling me I had X amount of credits to complete in order to obtain my bachelors. I had left the two jobs that were consistently taking up 70 hours a week of my time. My family members – parents specifically – were in full support and had given me their blessing. I was as free as a bird, and the only one that could dictate my next step was me. I had put in the time and done the legwork to get here, and now I would revel in the freedom that I had worked my ass off for. This feeling was so incredibly empowering and electrifying, and is one that I come across often during my travels. It was at this moment boarding the train that I felt as if I had been given a blank canvas to plan the trip of my dreams throughout southeast Asia. And so I did!
My go-to album when I’m on the road.