Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part VII

Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part VII

This is the seventh part in a series about Chandra’s adventures with solo travel in Thailand. Read the sixth part here.

No sooner had I made it home and passed out, my strum guitar alarm sounded to the tune of 8am. Quite disoriented, I gathered up everything and frantically shoved it into my backpack. I did a quick room scan before running out the door and down the path to make the early ferry. It was the only boat departing from the island that would make it to Krabi in time for me to catch my fight back to Bangkok. Miraculously I arrived in time and found myself a seat indoors where I could immediately pass out and sleep while straining my neck. Though uncomfortable, the return trip was a lot less dramatic and nauseating than the departure cruise.

Once arriving at the pier on the mainland, I had several hours before my flight so thought it might be a good idea to do some touristy activities. I booked a private van to take me to Wat Tham Sua, or Tiger Cave Temple. I was promised amazing views of the land after climbing a mere 1,237 steps on foot. Considering I didn’t know my taxi driver nor could communicate with him very well, I opted to take my heavy backpack and other belongings with me on this uphill trek. First I toured the less intimidating ascent then took a break to drink a coconut in an attempt to combat my dehydration-induced hangover. I looked up at the steep incline that disappeared into the foliage and decided it was now or never. I reluctantly picked myself up off the bench and made my way towards the bottom of the stairs.

We bonded in our struggle, our shoulders aching, thighs burning, muscles flexing, but we kept climbing.

Two hundred steps into my journey and I was already bent over panting on a landing, profusely sweating whiskey-infused perspiration. As I momentarily rested to steady my breathing, a cheery woman bounded down the steps and informed me that I had a long way to go. She was the motivational Richard Simmons of the Far East and I was having none of it in my condition. Thankfully, the temple-touring aficionado told me to conceal my water and sunglasses. Apparently the monkey villains were waiting at the top of the walking path preying on unsuspecting tourists yet again.

I continued my uphill battle, quite literally, stopping every so often to complain to other sufferers. We bonded in our struggle, our shoulders aching, thighs burning, muscles flexing, but we kept climbing. I met an entertaining German couple arguing over the female’s inability to climb as quickly as her male companion. For a while I walked with a group of four young women from England until they were stalled because their one friend had asthma. Unsurprisingly, they were backpacking through Southeast Asia on their gap year. I was quite envious of their girl group reviving the sisterhood of the traveling elephant pants. Gap year is a tradition lost on most Americans and a phrase I admittedly hadn’t heard of until moving abroad.

Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part VII

In comparison, my University was granted one week of reckless abandon and self-exploration before immediately being thrust into full-time “real world” poorly paid employment. The major difference being we could only afford a week-long celebration participating in numerous pub crawls near the local campus, not island hopping on another continent. I critically thought about this paradox as I climbed.

The steepness of the steps varied, some forcing an upward lunge in order to mount. Eight hundred steps conquered. Between all the aerobics and exploration, this vacation had unintentionally become a physical challenge of which I was more than game. It had been some odd months since I completed the NYC Marathon and survived a Tough Mudder and I needed the reboot to reignite my passion for competition. I stopped to observe the incredible view from the height I had already reached. I could see that the finish line was in view so I pushed myself up the remaining steps and finally stood firmly on the top of my new world.

Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part VII

Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part VII

Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part VII

I scurried around taking panoramic pictures from every angle. Farmlands sprawled into oblivion on one side as mountains towered through the fog on the other. The general consensus seemed to be that the view was slightly less stunning than initially anticipated 1,000 agonizing steps ago, but the self-satisfaction made it worthwhile. My endorphin high had me reeling in astonishment not only on this strenuous achievement, but that I had completed a successful solo journey the past four days mostly incident-free. A water-damaged “waterproof” camera and urchin-skewed foot couldn’t put a damper on all the positives and personal feats as a result of this excursion. For a couple of clichéd, soul-searching seconds, I took in a few deep breaths and smiled under the sunlight. I snapped a few more photos, leaving some modest women in utter surprise as a gust of wind blew over my top, thus revealing my apparent over-sexualized swimsuit. Sorry, Buddha.

My endorphin high had me reeling in astonishment not only on this strenuous achievement, but that I had completed a successful solo journey the past four days mostly incident-free.

I happily hopped down the steps with a lot more gusto than when I slowly walked up them, motivating many other travelers along the way, occasionally lying about the ease of the hike. Where the steps steepened I held the rickety handrail because I was naturally gaining more momentum while descending. I maneuvered around the monkeys avoiding their advances and with only a hundred steps remaining, I was home free. Skipping down the last couple of steps, I was safely back on the ground. Relieved to have mastered the mountain within my allotted time limit, I walked to the parking lot to search for my own personal chauffeur amongst the identical tour vans. He materialized, waving me over to his vehicle, eager to collect his inflated payment.

Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part VII

He dropped me off at the small airport where I had hours to occupy myself before my flight time. I slumped in the chair, happy to be able to relax and reflect on the highlights of my mini-trip. My contentment was ever so fleeting before I retrieved my travel guidebook and began planning. Just as I settled on my next adventure, a jungle retreat in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, it was time to board the plane. While I was extremely excited to return to the comforts of my quaint lovely condo in Bangkok, I was already looking ahead to more fun and exploration. This unsettled restless pattern continues to emerge after every trip, my curiosity indefinitely seeking the nervous anticipation of a new destination. I’ll eventually tackle that gap year after all America, just in gap week increments.

Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part VII

About Chandra Curry

Chandra CurryChandra Curry is an anomalistic blend of a country girl and city woman, most recently transplanted in Bangkok. She is traveling the world dispensing her knowledge and self-proclaimed mastery of the English language, a profession more commonly referred to as a Teacher. Chandra enjoys sleeping, drinking coffee and playing soccer, in that exact order. Read more about Chandra and see samples of her work here.

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