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Oh Thailanddd…where to begin. This is going to sound totally ridiculous but I found myself halfway across the planet almost completely by accident. For someone who travels a lot, it’s still a bit difficult for me to believe that this happened to me – let’s start from the very beginning.
I was living in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, against every single life goal and dream bone in my body, and it wore me down emotionally daily. I often felt stuck in a cycle of work and life that I didn’t want to be a part of anymore – but had no idea how to break free. One night, I had gotten into a huge fight with my ex boyfriend at a friends dinner party and completely lost it. I let all my life frustrations out on him in public and we weren’t even together at the time so it was extra awkward. Maybe I had been holding things in that I should have said when we initially broke up, or maybe I was upset that he hadn’t changed and was still the asshole that would show up 3 hours late to one of his “bestfriends” birthday dinners with a random girl on his hand. Whatever it was, it caused me to have a complete out of body experience that landed me on the island of Koh Samui.
I remember waking up the next morning super embarrassed and thinking, last night would have never happened if I had the courage to follow my dreams and get the hell up out of PA.
I had the sudden urge the leave asap but I didn’t have a plan.
I vaguely remembered a former boss that had told me about a trip she booked using Contiki Tours. She’d gone all the way to South Africa with a friend, but most people who used this tour company were solo travelers that’d get to travel in a group. It was perfect!! I fired up my laptop and booked the cheapest trip that I could go on as soon as possible…”Thai Island Hopper Tour”. It only cost about $650 (which at the time surprised the heck outta me, since I was silly enough to believe it included airfare…it did not). For some reason I thought that they were selling the trip at a super discounted price since it was two weeks out and they needed to fill up the rest of the spots.
I was pretty calm once I figured out that airfare was not included, after-all, how bad could a flight to Thailand be? I was completely delusional!
The plane tickets cost twice as much as the tour itself and it would take me THREE planes to get there! What?? The total journey would be about 23 hours. I was under the impression that it’d take something like two 7 hour plane rides. When I think back on it now, I’m not sure how I could have ever thought that – but I’d already spent over $600 and I wasn’t going to back out.
So I went on the island hopper tour! And here’s what happened:
1. Tourists would constantly ask to take pictures with me
Most people were polite enough to ask, but I once caught a group of women who claimed to be from a rural part of Italy, taking pictures of me in a bikini….awkwarddd. My guess is that a lot of them hadn’t seen someone this dark before.
2. I second-guessed every single action item in the itinerary
The jumping from boat to boat to get to another boat…climbing uneven rocks…riding in open vans with no seat belts…snorkeling when I didn’t know how to swim. It all seemed a bit too dangerous, but I’m glad I did it all.
3. I got bitten by a spider!!
…or a baby mosquito. The lady at the pharmacy wasn’t quite sure but my legs were covered in mosquito bites and this one looked very different. I’ll spare you the details here.
4. This man made me take this super awkward picture
…I’m sorry elephant. I don’t know why he made me do this!! but I’m so glad he did because it’s hilarious to look at now. Also, I was wearing that rain poncho(that I had actually bought in Sintra, Portugal the year before) because I guess it must have been raining season on the Thai islands and we were constantly caught in unpredictable downpours.
5. I made friends with complete strangers!
…one of them got attacked by a monkey, lmao! luckily it was caged. Traveling solo really helped me discover who I am on my own, and how I interact with others when I’m out of my comfort zone.
It was a total blast! and an amazing life changing experience.