First Time Thailand… It’s Now or Never
I stepped off the plane and was frozen. I thought, I live in NYC, I can do this. I was in awe of the bustling Bangkok airport. How did I get here? I had planned this trip with a friend, who had had to back out at the last minute. My family and friends told me just to cancel and lose the money, I couldn’t possibly travel to Thailand alone. I’d never been outside the U.S. alone. Furthermore, I knew absolutely nothing about Thailand. This was my friend’s idea.
Then I thought, why not? I am not getting any younger. I’m almost 40. I’ve been saying pretty much my whole life that I’ll travel someday, but never thought of doing it alone. I always envied those women who did, but just never imagined myself doing it. I believe everything happens for a reason, so maybe this was fate telling me to just go, explore, live. I had a million fears: Is it safe? Do I even have enough money? What if something goes wrong? Is everyone able to tell how truly scared I am?
I went into research mode. I posted questions on Trip Advisor daily. I think I actually made it worse by doing too much research. I tried to plan every meal, activity, mode of transportation, expenses, outfit. It’s important to respect Thailand’s culture, which is very conservative when visiting temples.
Thailand is known to be a very safe place, especially for women, so this brought me much comfort. I did, however, purchase an anti-theft purse for when I was going to visit the Grand Palace, as I heard that pickpockets hang out there. Although I did wear this my whole trip, I never for one moment felt unsafe.
I’ve been saying pretty much my whole life that I’ll travel someday, but never thought of doing it alone. I always envied those women who did.
A mutual friend, Nicha, lived in Bangkok, and on my first full day she picked me up from my hotel. She was as nice as I had heard everyone is in Thailand. She wanted to show me her beautiful country and truly experience Thailand. She took me about a half hour drive away to a Floating Market. It was a beautiful, hot 90-degree day. I felt like I was in another world. Some canoes were filled with food and fruit, others with coconuts ready to drink. Local food was cooked right on the boat, and some boats were ready to take you on a gorgeous ride through the canals.
We took a 20-minute canal ride to a little island where we spent a few hours. I tried some crispy pork, the durian fruit (known in Asia as the “king of fruits”) which is famous for its strong odor, and some dragon fruit (the “ugly fruit”). These might be the freshest pieces of fruit I have ever had, and in this heat I could’ve stayed there all day trying all different kinds. Of course I had to wash it down with pure coconut water. It tastes even better drinking it straight from the coconut. Everyone at this market seemed excited just to watch me trying their precious foods.
As we continued exploring this little island I heard music, but not just any music. I was starting to think I was imagining it. There stood a little old man on a rock, singing a Billy Joel song with a tiny guitar. I took it as a sign.
As we continued exploring this little island I heard music, but not just any music. I was starting to think I was imagining it. There stood a little old man on a rock, singing a Billy Joel song with a tiny guitar. I took this as a sign. I was 9,000 miles from home, in the middle of nowhere, and hearing my favorite music. I was meant to go on this trip and meet my new friend Nicha. On our canal ride back I just let it all soak in. The scenery was something I had only seen in movies. It was absolutely breathtaking.
I had waited my whole life for an adventure and it didn’t happen as expected, but I wouldn’t change anything. It took 40 years, but my life had just started. I was meant to travel, and had an undeniable curiosity to see the world. This trip changed me and allowed me to see a side of myself I never knew about. I made new friends from all over the world, and I couldn’t wait to get home and plan my next adventure.
Photo for First Time Thailand… It’s Now or Never by Unsplash.