It is August 16, 2014 and nearing the end of the Traditional Medicine program in India. I remember that night just like it was last, the sound of the fan whirling around the tepid air that snuck through the windows, adorned by worn floral sheets in my host family’s home. The bleached walls served as a reminder that this was a much less humid night than most, and as I observed the patterns where mold had once been a strange euphoria came over me, which I dissected into several feelings. The first was gloom that arose from the thought that this incredible experience (shared in earlier Mythbusters) was approaching its end while I was in no form ready to return to my mother’s own crowded, moldy apartment. Another, from the realization that after having finished my bachelor’s in nursing and needing to sit for the boards, I could take this work and studying remotely abroad to much more affordable lands.
Earlier that evening, while flipping through my roommate’s magazine, I stumbled upon an article on Thailand that struck me with wanderlust. Euphoria began to brew into a steadily increasing excitement sparking active curiosity as I researched flights and living arrangements in Phuket. I don’t know a word for the amount of spontaneous joy experienced when I found that I could actually save money by staying there instead of back in Florida. Immediately, I emailed my great uncle upon discovering a villa for ten dollars a night (these methods for cheap travel I will disclose at the end of this series) right on Kata Bay! “Lauren…There is no time like the present…If you can afford to extend your stay over there, you’ll have a lifetime of memories (pictures I hope too) that can never be recaptured…DO IT…Enjoy sweetheart…stay in touch if you can, otherwise I really do understand…” and within seconds of booking a surreal sense of gravity overcame my body, I was going to Phuket alone!
The following are entries from my personal journal kept while traveling Thailand. I really just hope that in my transparency you will share in the aspects of this journey that have changed me, and by the end, in my inspiration to continue learning from the world while becoming empowered to do so through some “travel tricks” I have found.
Today is the day. When the light slipped through the narrow space of curtain and old Delhi cement, I arose with my spirits gladdened- just as I had hoped for in my despair last night. All of the of students were back home by now in separate corners of the globe and I spent the past two days waiting for this flight like only person on earth waiting for the apocalypse to end. Perhaps it wasn’t so bad- the host in this tiny flat where I had barely enough to pay for the stay (which was supposed include to breakfast and dinner) would not allow me to save my leftovers for lunch and preferred that I stay in my room. It had been storming and desperate to escape my concrete prison, I trudged a mile through streets flooded with inches of cow sewage and rain in order to make it to the nearest internet café. An email confirmed there would be a shuttle available to pick me up from the airport tomorrow.
A gnawing sense of doubt arose: “Will I be safe alone in Thailand? Will I have enough? Am I capable of this with only several hundred dollars?” In order to relinquish all fear I will embrace this uncertainty as the very medium that causes faith to grow!
Arrival in Phuket
I can’t get over the scent of the soft ocean air – sweet and salty, it gently brushes my skin as if to say “You have arrived.” After a sleepless overnight flight, it was a struggle to stay awake on the mini bus ride to Karon Cliff Villas- but I am so glad that I did. There were many travelers on their own from all over the globe, exploring the same piece of Thai land. A 20-year old girl from Australia, here in a hostel just for one more night, reassured me that the past few weeks she had never felt unsafe. The gentlemen next to me from Hong Kong immediately began to exude his passion for life in stories of being a firefighter captain, trekking 50 kilometers on Asia’s highest mount to watch the sunrise, Osaka culture, and sailing.
At that moment I realized that I had made the best decision of my life, and that traveling alone is the least lonely adventure you could ever embark on. Everywhere, in every moment, something, someone, someplace is magnetically drawing your attention in order to expand your mind through some sort of new experience.
Wheeling my luggage up to the hotel, my body ached for rest. I couldn’t helped but feel frustrated that the room had no internet connection- the one premise on which I justified coming to Thailand was to work on an article and volunteer in an eye clinic. I felt so silly allowing this to steal from the magnitude of beauty surrounding me. Then, a knock at the door- Apple (a lively young woman who works in many aspects of the hotel) excitedly informed me that the manager had upgraded my room and we ran over to the my new home, an incredible villa with a real shower, dining area, and a bit of sluggish WiFi in the corner! How could I ever fret? For ten dollars a night I have been immersed in paradise, with free breakfast surrounded by staff that that feel closer than most of my own immediate family. My new friend from Hong Kong called on WhatsApp to tell me a story of how in England, a kind man drove him everywhere while he was in need. He wanted to extend the same kindness to me by booking a night at Club Med so that I would be able to join the yoga class that I mentioned earlier that day!
I am home.