I would estimate that we spent at least 48 hours in transportation from one major Thai area to the next, on buses, boats, trains, tuk-tuks, big ass trucks, little ass trucks, motorcycle carts, and other methods of motion.
That might epitomize how I currently feel – that I am currently just going along on a ride. It’s good in the sense that it’s a great ride to be on, with a full sensory and emotional spectrum to take in. But it’s bad in the sense that I feel like I am not maximizing my time here. Thailand thus far has been intriguing, but I don’t get the feeling that I am getting the full experience and immersing myself as much as I want to. That is no one’s fault but mine.
We spent our first week in an area of Thailand called Patong Beach, in Phuket. It is a major tourist destination, and even during the low season (as it is now), it is an overload of consumerism. In the most basic sense, if you are white-skinned or not Thai-skinned, you are there to consume and street vendors bombard you with solicitation for ‘taxi’ or ‘massaaahhhh’. Bangla Street is probably the epitome of this:
– men walking around with monkeys and iguanas, almost forcing you to take a picture with them + asking for payment shortly after,
– bars and clubs littered with stripper poles
– kids that run around and put lei’s around your neck even if you resist, and then you chase them to give it back to them
It’s basically like Bruin Walk, but for sex, money, goods, drugs (one guy asked me if I wanted to buy weed).
It’s not like I haven’t been to Vegas 20+ times, but to put it briefly, it wasn’t my scene. It was very interesting to see and explore, and we had a lot of fun, but I didn’t find it rejuvenating in any sense. Kat and I actually spent a lot of time in our room just to chill out. Maybe it was the party atmosphere, but we did have one moderately crazier night with local vodka and red bull to explore the nightlife. We also got a random chance to hang out and get stupidly drunk on the beach with Tommy, one of my good friends from college and dancing days who I haven’t seen in years. The beach was BEAUTIFUL and the street food was amazing, but I didn’t get the depth and immersion that I am looking for.
Reflecting on it more though, it’s easy to blame Thailand for not being the experience I am looking for, but I am the one experiencing it and the opportunities I think will provide those feelings and senses and thoughts are certainly abound in this giant ass country. I have an idea of what I want on a grand scale for this trip, but in the minutes and days and weeks that I’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve pushed myself to REALLY experience what I am looking for (among them are altruistic, introspective, interpersonal, and cultural immersion).
I’ve been going along for a ride, which again isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I made a pivotal decision to leave a lot of comfort behind for a few months, so I need to up my game in steering my days, and being more present and intense and immersed. Even things as simple as not having my SLR out on walks leave me less engaged. If I’m working on my own stuff, then REALLY work on it. If I’m walking somewhere, then REALLY walk and enjoy. If I’m taking a 6+ month voyage, then go on that fucking voyage.
In general though, I need to make a bigger effort in seeking out the things I am looking for, and identifying things that I want to try to make happen within a day or week (and not just on a year or half-year scale). There is a balance of course, because aimless adventuring has led to some amazing memories that would not have come about by controlling every single factor of a day. I suppose part of this trip is about finding this balance, among many other contrasting qualities and forces in my life.