On my last three blog posts I’ve detailed my recent vacation to Thailand. Starting in Chiang Mai, then Phuket, then Bangkok. I traveled alone, meeting up with some friends at certain points. This might be helpful info if you are planning a trip to Thailand or if you are planning to travel somewhere solo.
If you aren’t planning a trip somewhere, these are some lessons I learned while traveling alone.
1) This two week vacation is probably one of the most ridiculous vacations I will ever have in my life. I loved every minute, and learned so much. I didn’t feel “in danger” at any point of the trip, however it was very clear that I was traveling alone, so sometimes people hawking their goods would approach me differently than people in groups. For example, a Thai man might say “hello” to me or something of the sort because I was alone, but I noticed they wouldn’t say “hello” to the couple in front of me, or the two girls walking together behind me. Nevertheless, nothing happened and I felt safe.
I will say that I was ALWAYS hyper aware of my surroundings and didn’t go out at night as much as I would if I was with other people. I also limited how much I did at night (partially for $$ purposes, partially for safety purposes).
But either way I’m going to call that one a win!
2) Chinese is so handy! On my 3rd day in Chiang Mai I was trying to make my way towards the old city and didn’t know what was going on. I was able to use my Chinese to ask another tourist “zenme ban” or directions. Having the ability to speak Chinese really made a difference in my trip more than a few times.
3) I really love traveling, planning to travel, and relying on myself to do so. I think this made a huge difference in my health and overall happiness. I have been on several trips internationally and almost every time I have gotten sick. But if I was tired, I went to sleep early or went back to my hostel to nap. If I thought I wasn’t eating healthy enough I would seek out a healthy dinner. I was able to read 6 different books in 2 weeks. I walked for 6 hours in one day and it was fine because no one was complaining. If I was going to complain that wasn’t going to help me get anywhere any faster. This period of listening to my body and (as cheesy as it sounds) following my heart was so fulfilling, and enjoyable!
4) Walking is a crazy good way to lose weight! I’m pretty sure I lost 10 lbs in Chiang Mai. I walked EVERYWHERE and ran almost every day. I also only ate what I needed to sustain me. Such a different lifestyle than normal! I am a eat-your-feelings kind of person (I’m also an exercise-your-feelings kind of person so it balances out, don’t worry).
5) I’m crazy spoiled. This opportunity was unbelievable.
6) As much beauty as there is in Thailand, there is some “ugly” as well. Part of the reason I couldn’t bring myself to go out in Phuket was due to the prevalence of sex-trafficking and prostitution. I can’t go to a club or bar where there are prostitutes lounging outside because I know, chances are, they aren’t choosing to do what they are doing. I couldn’t bring myself to go out because by choosing to go to these bars I think that would make me complicit? I couldn’t live with myself if that were the case. So here’s to reading “White Like Me” and “Girl on a Train” instead of going out in one of the world’s craziest party towns.
7) Animal tourism, and animal rights, vary SO much country to country. I probably already knew this before going to Thailand, but it was never so clear as when I was sitting in a cage with 3 baby tigers, with 15 people waiting in line to spend time with them as well. This whole question was very interesting to me and SO relevant in Chiang Mai. Snake shows, alligator shows, elephant shows….you name it, they have it.
While picking an elephant company, I tried to choose one that treated their elephants well. Riding an elephant seemed a bit like riding a horse? Some people say riding an elephant is terrible for them. I don’t know. It definitely led me to ponder though. If you are going to Thailand I would suggest making decisions on this subject before hand.
“$$ Break downs”
I spent about $1570 USD total, from start to finish.
James Bond Bay Tour: $90
Cooking class: $30
Coral Island Tour: $30
Koh Phi Phi Tour: $30
Some areas I didn’t really budget for: astronomical (because I was alone) taxi rides to and from airports (this cost me over $60 USD for Phuket and Chiang Mai) and getting ripped off one time on a taxi ride ($16 USD), and tipping people. Massages, pedicures, the trainer in charge of your elephant. Tipping is relevant here so budget accordingly?
I initially brought $10,000 Taiwan dollars with me ($300 USD), then pulled out $130 USD, and had a friend bring me another $90 USD.
So I spent $1570. I wanted to spend a little less than that, closer to $1,200, but I don’t regret what I spent for even a moment.
If I could do it all over again, I would make sure I went on a trek in Chiang Mai, and I would have gone to Krabi instead of Phuket. In Krabi you have access to James Bond Bay and Koh Phi Phi, but you don’t have the RAGE- RAGE-PARTY-PROSTITUTES scene associated with Phuket. In Bangkok I probably would have tried to make it to one more temple. Overall though, I would say I was deeply satisfied.
Here’s to 4 more months of traversing Taiwan, 2 weeks in Australia, a handful of days in Cambodia, and a flight back to the good ol’ U S of A.