Going with the flow…all the way EastReading Time: 5 minutes
However, as usual my best laid plans were not to run smoothly, I was faced with a decision. I was offered an amazing job opportunity which would set my career in a different path. At this point, I had my dad’s voice ringing at the back of my head ‘life is about choices’……..arghhh! Why was I remembering these annoying words? I wanted to be a little kid who still gets everything they want. But that was not happening so I decided to take the job and pick a start date that would at least allow me some time to spend a few weeks in Thailand. Decision made! Now, the fear of travelling to a foreign country on my own ensued, I tried to rally the troops but unfortunately due to the short notice and expense…..the Liverpool anthem did not ring true for me as I had to walk alone. As it all happened so fast I did not have enough time to research and had therefore only booked a couple of internal flights and accommodation for my first night in Bangkok.
I was welcomed at Sukhumvit Airport in Bangkok, initially, by several individuals who passed me from one attendant to the next in order to establish whether or not I may have ebola before I was allowed to get through immigration. Stepping out of the airport I was greeted by a dense warm air that required me to immediately remove as many layers as I modestly could before continuing my journey. I stepped into the taxi whose bonnet was lined with a variety of different bhuddist ornaments and flowers. I have never been as grateful as I was in that taxi for the invention of air conditioning which made the journey to the hotel more bearable. By this time I was tired but too excited to close my eyes as we drove over the motorway where the signs were in Thai and I could hardly make anything out of them (a few of them had some english translations).
During the trip, it turned out that not firming up my accommodation and travel plans was actually one of the best decisions I had made. I met different people both travellers and locals who made recommendations of things for me to try out and places to see, and as I went along I noticed that there were places I enjoyed and a couple I could not wait to leave. I was able to embrace that, repack my bag and move on to the next adventure without thinking I would lose a whole load of money. Another great thing I found about the hotels I stayed in Thailand, I could wake up in the morning have my breakfast and inform the receptionist whether I was staying in the room for another night or not. If I had been more rigid I would have missed out on opportunities to do a number of things with people or stay in highly recommended hostels (yes….I stayed in hostels in the second half of my trip and totally loved it!). When a friend asked me to come visit her in Phrao for a couple of days. All I had to do was check out of my hotel and then go to get the bus from the Chiang Mai bus station and off I was.
I often enjoy going off the beaten track and discovering a place for myself. Whilst in Chiang Mai I discovered that doing that on foot sometimes is limiting (I can only walk so much) and to hire out a taxi is a bit expensive so I decided to rent a motorbike (ok fine it was a scooter, but that doesn’t sound as cool) but did I mention I had never riden one before?….needless to say that they would not allow me to hire one out (after a slightly embarrassing attempt to start it and it uncontrollably moving too quick for me to control). Walking back to the hotel after dinner I came across a reggae bar. I decided to go up to check it out and met an epic group of people from different parts of Europe and Japan who were also travelling and staying in a nearby hostel. I joined the pack and we all chilled out exchanging stories for the rest of the night/early morning. It turns out I was cool enough for an invitation to Pai, unfortunately I couldn’t go because I had to catch a flight a couple of days later. After sharing my motorbike rental story, a few of them offered to take me to a quiet part of town and teach me how to ride before they headed off to Pai. I couldn’t believe it-I was going to actually learn to ride. We eventually left the bar and went our separate ways at about 4am.
Being the eager student I am I was up at 8.30am and ready to go for my one and only riding lesson-it wasn’t as difficult as I had thought. I later went to a different rental place and managed to rent out a bike. Riding around truly enhanced the rest of my Chiang Mai experience as I was just able to follow the roads and end up in some weird and wonderful places.
Through speaking to people, as I went around Thailand, I was surprised how flexible people’s travel plans were to allow them to do what they wanted to do at any given time which brought some amazing unexpected experiences they had not previously considered. I think this lesson applies to areas in our life beyond travel! Life is what sometimes happens when we are busy making plans. Inflexibility can fail to accommodate amazing but unplanned opportunities.