Over the next week, I’ll be posting series of posts sharing stories from my whirlwind trip to South East Asia last spring. This is a little more personal than my typical content- enjoy!
I barreled through my lower twenties; fast forwarding through traditional roadblocks (first heartbreak) and checking off milestones like home ownership and a swanky Finance job at a multinational corporation. And now I’m entering what is truly my quarter life crisis. I feel like I’m running out of time. I’m 24, I have entire decades left. But I still can’t shake the feeling I’m approaching some kind of last chance. I just don’t know what it is yet.
So, I did what any rational female would do and I booked a last-minute ticket to Southeast Asia. With less than three weeks to departure, I scrambled to get my time off approved, prepare a half baked itinerary and secure accommodations near Haad Rin during the famous Halfmoon Party. I decided on a sampler of three destinations- Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, the island of Koh Phangan off the east coast of Thailand, and Siem Reap, Cambodia. While this wasn’t my first solo trip, this was my longest. “I’ll be fine”, I told myself, “It’s easy to have fun, right?”.
After a grueling 30 hours in a tin can to Chiang Mai, I finally arrived in the city around 7am. Most airports around the world are fairly identical- the same uncomfortable blue vinyl, departure boards, and overpriced water bottles. I enjoy the predictability of them- especially when I’m headed somewhere totally unknown. I have a routine: bathroom, ATM, taxi stand. No matter where I am in the world, I can always find these 3 things. I locate an ATM to pull out cash. I didn’t know how much I’d need but $15,000 baht ($500USD) seemed like a good amount. I wouldn’t realize this until four days later, but in my sleep deprived haze I left my only debit card in the ATM. Luckily, $500 is enough to last an entire month in this part of the world as I would soon learn.
I spent most of my first day alone touring temples and walking along the ruins of the old city wall. I had researched local customs and appropriate attire inside temples but I was still afraid I was doing everything wrong. My button fell off on my brand-new wrap skirt in the afternoon. Embarrassed, I hurried into a corner store and bought a sewing kit. Then, I drowned my anxiety in a bowl of curry at lunch. I was tired and I hadn’t had a real conversation since leaving Houston. This wasn’t going to be as easy as I had thought.