An Unexpected Trip to Thailand – Relearning to Trust Myself

Diligent monkey who stole my water bottle

I often hear people say that they love to travel. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in China and have already experienced a culture different from Western culture, but I never saw the appeal – or rather the benefit – of traveling. I couldn’t understand how escaping one’s own life to find meaning in a stranger’s life could benefit the traveler once he or she returns home. Interestingly enough, through a series of events, I found myself solo-traveling in Thailand for the past two months. My experiences were far from what my biases predicted.


To give some background on what my daily life looked like before the trip: I had just completed my undergraduate studies in August 2016. I started working shortly after, but only part-time, so that I could have enough time and energy to invest in the things that I found meaningful. I read into past influential thinkers (lots of Tolstoy), danced, and worked to become free from my patterns of reaction through mediation and counseling. I wasn’t making much money, but it was enough to live on (and even save 40% through my frugal spending). I wasn’t making much progress in terms of building a career, but I believed that my exploration would eventually lead me to the clarity that I needed to decide. In late-January, my work contract ended. I used this freedom as an opportunity to visit my family in China. Later on, I decided to capitalize on the expensive ticket to China by visiting Thailand – one of the easiest country to go backpacking.

Chelsea's self-guide for enjoyable travelling 
  1. be my own type of tourist
  2. love simple things
  3. learn from the cat's cat-ness and embrace my inner Chelsea-ness

My first two days in Thailand were spent like any typical tourist; I visited the big attractions. After the first day, I realized I didn’t enjoy being around lots of tourists. I then resolved to be my own type of tourist. In other words, I gave myself permission to not feel obligated to go to the main attractions. I gave myself permission to do what I enjoyed, even if it wasn’t something that’s deemed worth seeing. This exercise of identifying my own preferences and trusting my own value system made traveling much more enjoyable. For the first time in a long time, I only had to think about myself and my own thoughts. It was so simple to identify what I liked and make that happen, instead of thinking about what I should like. I made decisions much more easily than I ever did before. Unexpectantly, I also cured myself of FOMO (i.e. the Fear of Missing Out).

It’s a good day when your Thai Massage instructor gives you a papaya from his garden!

At home, I often catch myself living for the approval and reaction of other people. I feel a need to be accepted and understood, and this need sometimes causes me to temper my decisions with the opinions of others. But when traveling alone, there is no one to please but myself. Everyone I meet has their own plans and interests. It no longer makes sense to compromise my plans for the sole reason of pleasing someone else. Especially when time is limited and my environment is constantly changing, it’s clear that I will be the main person dealing with the consquence of my choices.

Singing with a worker at the hostel, but don’t know the words, so I howled instead.

 

If nothing else, my time in Thailand has brought me back to the basics of trusting my own thoughts and decisions again. It’s nice to let go of the idea that things have to be a certain way, and instead to simply observe and respond. I’m looking forward to seeing how these changes will manifest themselves when I return home to Montreal.

 

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I’m very happy to have this opportunity to share my experiences on a larger platform than through my personal blog. Sharing is a way to extend and preserve my experience, and I want this sharing to be as helpful as possible for readers! If there is anything I touched upon that you would like to read more on, please leave a note in the comments and I will try to make it happen.   

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