Before I left, I had two faces that I would put on while discussing my travel plans. One would have me discussing my precise itinerary, while the other would feature a much more relaxed Kristen saying “Ohhh who knows? We’ll see what happens!” (That’s kind of the persona I put on when I was talking about my plans in this post.)
In both instances, and even when I left, I told people that I had my lodgings and plans set for the first few days, but after that I was going to see what would happen. Look how casual I can be!
Well, within just a few days traveling solo, I quickly realized that all of my assumptions were incorrect.
I basically upended my travels plans within the first 48 hours. I couldn’t spend a week in muggy, chaotic Bangkok, and escaped down to the coast of Thailand faster than I thought. I can’t stand the thought of having to move around more than is necessary, lugging my bag from place to place, so island hopping is out too. Instead, I parked myself for two weeks in Koh Lanta. And then – surprise! – I did get up to northern Thailand, specifically Chiang Mai.
The biggest surprise to me? I decided to go to China.
China had been part of my original itinerary, but then cut out when I decided to stick to SEA. Literally two days before leaving when I was in the throes of WHAT AM I DOING THIS IS CRAZY I AM GOING TO FAIL (which was really fun for everyone involved, I think), I decided that if it all got to be too much I would use going to Beijing as a crutch. (I have family living there.)
Within a few days of arrival, I decided to go ahead and book China. At that point, I was still using it as a crutch, the quintessential, “Okay, only two more weeks of traveling solo before I’m in the bosom of family,” and so on.
Traveling solo is funny; specifically, the wildly vacillating emotions I go through on a daily – nay, hourly – basis is almost comical. One hour I receive bad news and want nothing more than a hug from someone who loves me; the next, I’m wandering down the street, musing about how I could have totally done solo travel for another week.
I’m almost glad for that realization, and the realization that I’ve already been in Thailand for a month alone without even really noticing. While I could have easily done another week, two weeks, or probably even more without breaking a sweat, I’m glad that I will soon be with family (as is my mother). I can explore an entirely new place and receive a bit of comfort at the same time. I don’t have to be on all the freakin’ time.
Babies pooping on the street, terrible air pollution, and suspicious food – I’m coming for you!