This is Part Two of my post about what I learned while travelling solo through SE Asia last summer 🙂 See Part One here
5) Trust Your Gut
This tip is CRUCIAL. If your instinct is telling you one thing (don’t go down that alley/with that weird guy/don’t take a bucket from a stranger), DONT DO IT!! Train your intuition to take you down the right path, but also remember that things are very different in SE Asia and what’s thought of as dangerous in North America is often not regarded the same way over there. I remember this gross scary alley in Bangkok that led on a shortcut to our hostel. The tour guides were the first to take us down there and we all thought “what the hell?!”. But then we saw families treating the alley as their back yard, working and watching TV as their many pets caused a ruckus. Sure, it smelled bad and there was junk everywhere, but that’s just the way it was in BKK – don’t have a backyard? grab an alleyway! By the end of my trip I was walking down this same alley at three am, laughing at my new friends as they cowered at the thought of plunging into the dark. If you are unsure – ask someone, because trusting your gut can go a long way – with the right guidance of course!!
4) Let the Party Take You
Lets face it. I partied HARD while I was overseas. Harder than I ever have in my life, especially on the Beach Travellers wing of the trip, because I was surrounded by 27 of the most fun and fearless Canadians I have had the privilege of meeting!! Every night there was a new activity, theme party, or massive beach bash that you would simply HAVE to go to, no matter how much sun you got that day or what viewpoint hike you did.
The parties in Thailand and Cambodia absolutely blew my mind, especially the Full Moon Party, which I conquered twice!! For more info about the Full Moon, click here. I learned a lot about myself through these party experiences, if you can believe it! I learned I am a party rock star who knows how to manage my alcohol intake so I can stay up all night and often be the last woman standing! Of course I had some rather rough mornings and I didn’t escape a puke or two but overall, it was worth it to party so hard because A) when the heck am I going to have the opportunity to rock out so hard in my life?? and B) I might as well get all this partying out of my system while I’m young enough to experience it properly!!
Moral of the story? Party HARD, but Party safe, know your limit and don’t accept drinks/rides/pills/buckets from strangers.
3) Friends are Family on the Road
When you travel, you are constantly meeting new people who seem friendlier and more interested in you than the people back home in boring, uptight North America. This is because the BEST, friendliest and most worldly people know that travel is the ultimate learning experience, and go out of their way to meet new friends on the road. It was harder to meet new friends while I was in my big group at the beginning of my trip, but as the months went by I learned how to strike up random conversations on buses and hostels to find new interesting people from all over the world. Experiences can cement friendships too, like on Chelsea and I’s adventure on the Ko Tao night boat: we had to spoon with two lovely NZ girls on the way over cause there was no space, and they ended up being our fabulously fun travel companions for the next week!!
Bottom Line: Make it a point to meet new people while on the road, don’t just stick to your group of friends. Make new ones from all over the world!!
2) Embrace Your Inner Hippie
Go where the wind blows you. Throw away your shoes and wear a long skirt. Grow your hair long and forget about plucking your eyebrows. Learn to spin fire, like I did, or learn to surf, scuba or befriend a monkey for an afternoon. Just let that North American uptight Type-A self slip away. He or she will be back once you step off that plane and back to reality, trust me. But there is something invaluable about embracing another way of life, something slower that is focused on personal growth and freedom. I found this amazing blissed out beach bum inside of me who finally was just going with the flow instead of planning every minute of every day. Finding this side of myself was a crucial step of discovering who I am, and now I listen to my hippie self when she needs a day at the beach or a day in the park practicing spinning. The lesson here is finding balance between the two selves and making sure both are being served in your lifestyle at home!
1) It’s the Journey, not the Destination
As I traveled from one place to another, I found myself filled with anxiety again and again. Will my train be on time? will we catch the ferry? What If I don’t like the food they serve?
Those worries became less and less loud as I learned to treasure every crazy bus ride, bumpy boat trip and determined local who tried to sell me their wares. These detours and roadblocks became the best stories, the most memorable moments that I look back on and laugh. Sure. my trip went well, I didn’t get mugged or kidnapped or hassled (too much), but there were definitely tough spots where I wished I had more control over the situation. Every moment of my trip was important, even the times when I waited at the train station for hours or missed the boat to Ko Lipe and had to spend the night in Pak Bara. If the journey is stressing you out, just stop, take a breath and marvel that you are halfway around the world, seeing sights that most people only dream of, and that you are lucky enough to have some cash in your pocket and clothes on your back, too. Wow!
Or just have a mini tantrum and work it out, I had to step away and do that more than once 😉
Well, that concludes my writing about my 2012 trip (only a few months late, lol!)
But you lucky people get to come with me on YET ANOTHER JOURNEY!! BIGGER, BETTER, LONGER!!
Last year was my fearless adventure, this year get ready for “Work Hard, Play Harder 2013 SE Asia/Oceania Trip!!!”
More tomorrow on that 🙂
- Offer My ‘First-Time Travel’ Tips (howdoesitfeeltobe.com)
- 8 Unexpected Things I Learned During A Year Of Travel (thoughtcatalog.com)
- Why do you travel? (travelsoftracy.wordpress.com)
- Advice to Budget Travelers in SE Asia (quarterlifeepiphany.wordpress.com)