The best and worst thing about travel 

It’s inevitable that you’re going to meet people while travelling, especially if you’re travelling alone like me. And unless you’ve planned your trip with someone else, you aren’t going to be on the exact same trajectory as the travellers you meet. Even if you do plan it together, sometimes one person wants to go here, another elsewhere so they split for a bit. It’s like we bump into and out of each others’ lives as travellers, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for hours. 

At the volunteer centre, I was accustomed to a couple of weeks with people before my friend who was also volunteering for a long time (he was actually hired by WFFT so he’s there for a long time now) and I were singing Another One Bites the Dust. Even in Chiang Mai, we saw the same people for most of the two weeks. 

These past two weeks, though, have been me getting used to having a couple of days, or a couple of hours, on the same trajectory as others, especially now that I am officially travelling alone. 

I decided to take the bus back from Chiang Mai to Bangkok (not that that train ride wasn’t a hoot or anything) and I showed up in Bangkok at 4:30 am (this seems to be the over arching theme of my trip thus far, rocking up to a new city at some ungodly hour with no clue what comes next) and started searching for a hostel. Unlike Chiang Mai where most things are closed at reasonable hours of the day, lots of hostels were open so I was looking for an acceptable one. In other words one that didn’t scream bed bugs and robbery (I am happy to say I have only encountered bed bugs once so far and it was on a ferry of all things – who knew bed bugs weren’t just in beds). I ended up meeting two German police officers who were doing the same thing, and we found a place just off of Khao San Road, the backpacker, epileptic seizure-inducing street of Bangkok where alcohol is served at all hours of the day. The place was good, minus the stains on the sheets and burn holes in the blankets, but no bed bugs, no robbery. At 5 am I can ask for little more from a hostel. 

The Germans and I spent a couple of days sight seeing around Bangkok (and I met back up with Emma and Polly), though I didn’t go into the Grand Palace because it was 500 baht (roughly $20, or 10 street meals). 

  Absolutely massive reclining Buddha. 

  Bangkok flower market: bar none the best smelling street I’ve encountered in Asia. 

  Sunset on the river of Bangkok.

We said goodbye to the Germans after a couple of days, and the next day we met a group of Canadians (and one Swede) who snuck us into a rooftop pool for the day. That day, we quite literally ran into two of the guys we did our trek with in Chiang Mai (what are the odds, right?) 

  Also gives you a pretty adequate image of Khao San Road. If roads were people, Khao San Road would probably be a borderline dysfunctional crack addict. 

I went on from Bangkok to Koh Tao to do my diving certification and found myself upset in the first day or two that really random people weren’t messaging me back. It occurred to me that Koh Tao marked the beginning of my solo travel so I wasn’t yet used to this bumping into and out of lives without anyone there with me in between bumps. So I began to make a more conscious effort to meet people, like going for lunch with the Canadian engineer, the only other person in my 6 bed dorm room, and I spent three days intermittently hanging out with an eclectic mix of Aussies, Swiss and Dutch people also doing their open water. 

After finishing my open water course (and not having enough time to continue on to my advanced), I was planning on chilling on the beach for a couple of days, maybe seeing the other sides of Koh Tao. The best way to do that is by motorbike and having been on one (as a passenger) only a handful of times (the first time we crashed into a bamboo tree), I was not renting one alone. Lucky for me I met a German guy who wanted to do the same thing and he was chill riding with a passenger (and he’s a paramedic so I felt extra safe). So he and I spent the day beach hopping in Koh Tao.

  
  
  It is unbelievable how beautiful this island is. This is shark island here, where you can swim with sharks early in the morning. 

And we topped off the day at a beach bar watching the sunset (seriously, could this be anymore picturesque?)

  
Staying true to the theme of my last two weeks, he bumped out of my life again and I bumped out of the diving group who were all going to Koh Phangan for the full moon party (definitely not my cup of tea, even if my visa had allowed it). 

It has certainly been an adjustment, getting used to true solo travel, meeting people for a few hours and accepting that you may never see them again (though with Facebook you may see them on your newsfeed), like the two Argentinians I met on the bus from Koh Tao and crashed with, or the two French girls I met in the airport and spent one night chilling with. 

So on the one hand it’s amazing meeting so many cool people, but on the other hand you don’t get much time with them really. We meet, hang out and have a good time, and then go our separate ways. Maybe we’ll meet again, maybe we won’t. I’m learning now that it’s okay either way. I’m learning to be okay just me. 

Until Next Time,

Rachel Coulter

P.s. this golden retriever at the diving place in Koh Tao is obsessed with sand. 


4 thoughts on “The best and worst thing about travel 

  1. As a solo traveler as well, it was great that our paths crossed today. It’s all of the interactions together that make for a memorable trip.

    I hope the rest of yours is safe, fun and most of all, filled with more people!

    Tony

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