Journey to the unknown : Thailand – Part 1
There are moments in your life when you take a decision so incredible you had never even dreamed of it. And then there are decisions that have been bubbling inside you for quite a bit and that one final moment it just appears bright and clear. I had not personally imagined doing a solo trip. After all being from a normal Indian family, I did not understand the meaning of the word solo. Nothing is solo. You always do thing with people and more people. The number of people hanging around you define your worth so solo mean worthless.
I had thought of this as a fantasy. And then one thing triggered another. One moment of hurt led to another of clarity. All of the things, all of the powers in this world aligned for me to open that website and see the ticket prices. When I checked for a Bangalore to Bangkok round trip it was just $270 ( Rs 17K) . I had labored hard over the last one year in US and saved up some money. I had just opened the website to check the prices. But before I knew it the tickets were booked.
It was a dream. It was an escape. It was the fear. There were a lot of things that triggered that moment but I booked this ticket. My ticket to another life it felt. Not even one week later I landed in Bangkok at 11PM (Thailand time). It was scary for me. I was jittery. I had just reached a new city where I did not speak the language or eat the food. And on top of it all I had my return flight in 3 weeks. And the cherry on it was the fact that I had no plans or hotel booking. I was totally unorganized to the point of panic. But I had this security that the moment it turned too difficult I can take a flight back.
The first thing I did in this new country was of course to get a VOA (Visa on Arrival). That went through quick and easy. A short trip before had given me some heads up on things to do first. So at the Suvarnabhumi Airport at Bangkok I bought a prepaid SIM card valid for 30 days. I was now officially connected with Phone and Internet in this unknown land. I guess after that my initial nervousness cooled down.
Next thing I sat down at the Airport, tethered my phone to my laptop and booked a cheap hotel near the airport for 2 nights. I literally wasnt sure what to do with myself so this was like a buffer time to get my bearings. The transfer from airport to hotel was included and so around 1AM I was checking into the hotel. These hotels are usually to cater to people who have to take a flight to/from bangkok within a few hours. Since I booked for 2 nights, they upgraded me to a better room. This room had a TV, A/C, WiFi, Safe, 2 huge queen beds and a nice hot shower. More than what I can expect for $20. I was tired with anxiety and strain and took a nice long hot shower and hit the bed dreaming about the joys of Thailand and the fear of the unknown.
I woke up around 10AM in the morning. I had no rush to explore, to do things, to shop. I was just happy being lazy. Obviously I was quite hungry and so went downstairs to the small cafe. On exploring the menu, I knew one of the fears was coming true. It was difficult to find anything vegetarian. But for 120 THB I got a noodle soup. It was difficult to finish through and I spent about 40 minutes getting through it. I went back to the room and had an instant coffee. Once more I was left in a void. What to do now, where do I go? Obviously the feeling was that since I was in a new country, since I had spent money I had to achieve something. To clear up my mind I just decided to go in for a long shower again. After that I decided to take a stroll through the hot afternoon Lat Krabang street. 20 minutes of walking later I got to this mall which had a lot of things. The Starbucks looked appealing but I decided against it as I wanted this to be a budget trip. Instead I got to the McDonalds and ate the cheapest thing I could find (Spicy Pepper Chicken Burger for 29 THB). It tasted decently okay. Just to indulge myself I also had a Chocolate Sundae (29 THB).
Obviously just looking at all the pretty girls was mesmerizing but just the casualness of their beautiful clothes, the way they carried themselves was just beautiful. This was what a world should be like I thought. I lazed through the day with no idea of where to go. The inertia and the fear of unknown was so strong that I couldnt move. When evening came my spirits rose a bit. I went and walked the opposite way. Here I found a lot of street food with such variety of meats that it was unbelievable. After walking around for an hour, I realized that vegetarian would be no-go here. So I tried to pick up the most appealing type of chicken. And a can of coke. That was my dinner for the evening. I walked around and sat at a bus stop around 8PM and quietly started eating.
I was just looking at what people did, how the lives of people in Thailand was in general and other crazy things. One of the first things that surprised me was that the streets were full of women. Of all ages and types. Hardly any men to be seen around. Then I saw the tuk-tuk (public transport thing like a shared truck) and again it was full of women. And the most amazing part to me was that these women were all dressed in dresses and shorts and mini-skirts. We in India would be amazed, we would call it slutty, we would be feeling so unsafe travelling on normal public transport in such clothing. And here were these people with not a care in the world related to safety and their dressing.
Later around 10PM I went to a bar, had a drink and then just came back to my hotel. Yes I had other plans but I was not in a shape to execute them. I had got some of my bearings but I still was not sure on how to go about this trip. An idea was starting to form in my mind that I couldnt yet name but I knew that by tomorrow I had to think of something. As usual the plan B was to stay another night if nothing else worked but I really didnt want to keep doing nothing. I wanted to explore this country. I wanted to see new things, feel new feelings and meet new people. That night I went to bed a little more confident of what I was doing and a little more content on having survived Day 1.
For rough comparison:
1 USD = 60 INR (Indian Rupee)
1 USD = 32 THB (Thai Bhat)
To read further: Part2