Expat Magazine

Randomly Going to Thailand

By Thebangtoddowenwaldorf @BangLiving

Thailand is cheap. I was told that I could live like a king and Randomly going to Thailandthat dollars reach further than most travel destinations. While I was in Australia it seemed that nearly half of the travelers I met had been to Thailand. I, on the other hand, couldn’t locate it on a map. Perhaps that is typical for an American. After all, we are known for being geographically ignorant but if you’re American don’t let that get to you. A lot of travelers didn’t know where Florida is, and in one case, I was asked if Miami was a state. I’m pleased to announce that I found out where Thailand is. It’s right above Australia. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I knew that I had to go there, and so I did.

That’s my problem. I dive in head first. I’m notoriously awful about it. Somewhere along my maturation from baby steps to running 5Ks I picked up the mantra that I must to do everything—at least once. This has led to some interesting eating habits, lifestyle rules, and countless adventures, which is why I happily live by my mantra—at least once in a while.

Before I had left Tasmania, which is the island south of Southeast Australia, I had already made up my mind to go to Thailand. What would I do there? How long would I go? I hadn’t a clue to any of that, but I was going and I rarely back track on a decision of this kind. I’m stubborn like that.

With adventure on my mind I began to prepare for my first trip to Asia. My style of planning is learning as much as I can, but not having an itinerary. It gives me a confidence boost when I understand local customs, history, and trivial things like knowing if an area is prone to flash flooding. I studied before I went to Australia too. That worked out quite well. Not once did I fall for their drop bear joke. A rite of passage for all Australia bound travelers.

Thailand was different. It messed up my whole game plan. My first hurdle was finding decent literature on its history. Unfortunately, the books that I found sucked. I polished off an entire book on Thailand history and learned three things; almost all of the descendants of Southeast Asia are from China, rice was their major commodity but now it is tourism, and their views on marriage and women are somewhat—lax.

In Australia, I did a lot of volunteering with the WWOOF program. Working with animals and on farms was a perfect way to enrich the Aussie experience. The WWOOF program is international and offered in over one hundred countries, but not in Thailand. Well, it is, but it isn’t sponsored by the actual organization and there are disclaimers about their non-affiliation. So basically, it isn’t.

What the heck was I going to do in Thailand? After a book, two videos, and a plethora of websites I still had no clue why I was going and what I would do there. As a last resort I turned to a dozen websites and read about the typical touristy things. There were plenty of zoos and temple tours. Sadly, the lists had provided little insight and inspiration.

Alas, my preparation for Thailand was a failure. I was going to my first Asian country and had no idea of what it had to offer. I had arranged to visit for five weeks and resolved to completely wing it, which is exactly what I should have done. All of that time I had spent trying to figure out things to get into and Thailand was silently guiding me. It was telling me, “You don’t plan for Thailand, man. You just let it happen”. Kap kun krap.

I had put an advert on CouchSurfing before I left and was

Randomly going to Thailand
contacted by a Thai named James who let me live on top of his coffee shop in Bangkok. By using another website called TravelBuddy I was able to connect with a South African guy named Omar to travel with. Omar arrived several days before me and we agreed to meet at the coffee shop. When I arrived at the Touch Café, admittedly a unique name for a coffee shop, Omar was there to greet me. We shook hands and agreed on one travel arrangement, we would say “Yes” to everything.

Trains in terrible condition took us up and down the country to towns that we had never heard of. We rode elephants and met hilltop Thai bar owners. Lady-Boys did their best to seduce us on any road at any time of the day. Walking and sweating became ritual. Motorbikes zipped us through valleys with towering cliffs split to each side of the road. Winding roads took us to small villages where English became useless. Sometimes we separated at a moment’s notice, for no other reason than someone had invited the other on an adventure, only to meet days later and exchange stories sitting outside of beach bungalow patios and slapping mosquitoes.

We split for the final time at the Southern tip of Thailand. Our departure flights were three days apart. I went on to meet several people and play cards in the home of a Thai woman who opened up the front of her home as a bar at night. Omar met with a friend who was a travel guide and gave him an island tour. Those last days began and ended like the rest, each day a surprise that left us at the mercy of the environments that we threw ourselves into. We figured it out. You plan for Thailand by not planning for anything.

Expect nothing and everything will be a reward.

Should that stop at Thailand? We can benefit from that in regards to all aspects of our lives.

On our last morning together we took a two hour ferry from

Randomly going to Thailand
one of the koh islands to the mainland. We had done well dodging the paths of the rainy season, but it looked like the rain was going to come later that day. The waves beat against the heavy steel ferry and in the distance the sky was turning gray. After a long moment of silence Omar turned and said, “We didn’t get to do everything we had planned!” and I smiled.

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