The vacation that was everything I didn't know I needed.
I've said this phrase to just about everyone that's asked me how Thailand was. I've always been the type to go on "exploring"vacations. You know, cities, where you leave your hotel room and just walk all day long taking in every inch of architecture, history, and art available. If you had asked me to name my top 5 vacation destinations, you wouldn't find a single tropical location on there...actually, you probably wouldn't even find it on my top 10...but here we are, talking about my recent trip to Thailand.
It's taken me a while to decide how I was going to write this, there's just too much to put in one post so I'll do this in two. This post will talk about my general time there, what I've taken away plus the usual photo dump. My next post, I'll give a list of places that I recommend if you ever find yourself in Thailand, more specifically, Koh Phangan.
We decided to visit Thailand because my boyfriend's cousin, had just quit his job in London and decided to live in Thailand for 6 months to regroup and take back control of his life. He had rented this adorable two bedroom, two bathroom cabin on stilts that only cost him a little under $400 a month. He lived more in the jungle of Koh Phangan. At night, you would fall asleep to the sounds of the rain falling, the crickets chirping and in the day, you would be woken up by roosters (who didn't really have a great sense of time because sometimes they would wake you up at 3am, other times you hear them go off at noon).
As foreign as this routine was to me, it felt like maybe this is how humans are supposed be living. You sleep when you're sleepy, wake when you're awake, eat when you're hungry...it was a much slower pace than I was used to but it really made me reassess some of the values instilled into my life. I began to realized that I had an addiction to feeling busy. If I didn't end the day feeling exhausted, if I hadn't planned every spare minute of my day, I felt like I wasn't living my life to the fullest. Why was it necessary for me to make sure I had some activity planned on my days off? Why did I feel obligated to attend every social function presented to me? Sometimes, what you need to do to make the most out of your life, is to allow yourself to a do nothing and recharge.
My vacation spanned a total of 12 days, and in those 12 days, I never once heard someone utter the phrase "So what do you do?" I remember when I first moved to Los Angeles, I thought it was so strange that that was one of the first things someone would ask you. It's usually the third questions when someone is introducing themselves to you, like "Hi, I'm Pete, what's your name, where are you from and what do you do?" As if your occupation tells people something about you other than "this is how I pay my bills". After living in LA for 4 years, that question has become part of the normal social interaction. I get it, it's a city of networkers and everyone wants to know what you can do for them or if they can do something for you. In Koh Phangan, people wanted to know what your plans for the day was, what you did yesterday, what interesting things have you seen on your trip. It was really refreshing, to lose that part of my false identity, if only for 12 days.
We visited Bangkok for 3 days. We got to visit a couple of temples (I really enjoyed Wat Arun), checked out the Chatuchak Market and haggled with every taxi we came across. The Chatuchak Market...I cannot even properly express inwords how huge that place is. My boyfriend and I walked around for 6 hours and didn't even seen the entire place. The cool thing is that they section everything off, so be sure to grab a map (we learned this too late). Also, dress modestly, nothing name brand, nothing shiny, no jewelry. If you look like you have money, your haggling will not be successful. I'm not a haggler, just tell me your lowest price and let's just get on with it. After the third hour of haggling...I was just so tired, I didn't care to shop anymore, so I just walked around aimlessly, staring a the thousands of vendors.
If you're someone who is great or enjoy haggling and you want to get some designer knock-offs, then you should go to MBK market. It's 7 floors, every floor is different, you have a cellphone floor, then a watch floor, then a clothing floor, and so on. This is the place to go if you are good a haggling. We came here on our last day in Bangkok, I think I was so defeated by the Chatuchak market that I didn't even bother trying to buy anything, but my boyfriend and his cousin came up pretty well.
I guess I'll leave it at that for now. I'll elaborate more in the next post of places to go. I'm so happy I made this trip to Thailand, I thought this was a trip that I would have taken many years later, when I'm older and walking 13 hours in a city isn't something my body will allow me to do. The greatest thing, I think, of this vacation was that I came away with a sense of peace and calmness that I usually come away with at Lightning in a Bottle. It's really was the vacation that I didn't know I needed. Scroll to the bottom to check out the video!