Monday, 16 October 2017

#31 Thailand part 10 - Trouble in paradise

After the mixed bag that was Phuket and Koh Phi Phi I was desperate to find somewhere to stay for a while to relax properly.

Sadly that was easier said than done. The time I spent on Koh Phangan coincided with election time in New Zealand and for some reason myself and a lot of my friends felt incredibly emotionally invested in the result. It felt so personal and our general optimisim and happiness was on the line.

Since it's so easy to stay connected to everyone these days I wasn't strong enough to avoid the news or the messages from friends. In fact I actively searched for updates and discussions about what was going on.

It sounds so stupid but even though I was half way around the world and there wasn't anything I could do about it, when the results came in to say we had a hung parliament, I couldn't help but feel a surge of disappointment.

How could this be? Everyone had been so hopeful and yet things were so, so close. A weight settled heavily on my heart and even though I really loved Koh Phangan and was staying at a really great place with dorms for $NZD 4 a night, I still couldn't fully relax and enjoy its natural beauty.

I spent a lot of time lying on beaches worrying about things I could do nothing about. If got bored of that I'd worry about the amount of rubbish on the island. After I'd exhausted that topic, I'd stress over my finances, or my future career, or over America and North Korea, or the benefit system in New Zealand. It was all very unproductive and useless.

Despite feeling a bit blue, I carried on searching for experiences that would distract me. One day I hired a scooter and explored the island and another day I rented a mask and snorkel. These activities gave me some temporary relief. I visited a vegan resturant that Super Chill Mumbai Guy told me to visit and passed on a hug to the owner from him. There were so many vegan and vegetarian resturants that I decided I would do a meat detox whilst I was there. For some reason it just felt like the right thing to do even though I'm a stubborn Omnivore.

The whole experience was a good example of how even though life might look fantastic from the outside it's whats going on inside that really makes a difference. I wanted to write about it in the interest of being completely honest in this blog. In this age where everyone has a personal online brand I think its more important than ever to stay as grounded and authentic as possible.

Thankfully after mulling over all the problems in the world for a few days I eventually did find some kind of inner - peace and with that I left the island and arrived back in Surat Thani.

Here I met a girl from Singapore. Even though I'm becoming more and more cynical about these short term travel friendships, as long as you manage to get all the small talk out of the way early on, these brief encounters can be really rewarding.

Thankfully she was also keen to discuss things on a deeper level and we spent the day together drinking coffee, going to the bank to transfer baht to my NZ account and talking about life, love, travel, teaching and everything in between.

It was amazing how just having a good conversation completely dragged me out of the funk I'd been stuck in for the past few weeks.

It was also interesting experiencing Thailand through her eyes. She looked like she could be Thai and even though she couldn't speak the language she got local prices for things whereas when I asked I was given the tourist price. All this because of the colour of our skin!

I'd found a great workaway opportunity on Cat Ba Island in the North of Vietnam where I could write content for a website in return for free accomodation, food, and some free tours. I had already booked my flight to Ho Chi Minh because I'd done no research about Vietnam at all and just liked the idea of visiting a city I'd heard a little bit about from friends.

I was mostly looking forward to saying 'Goooooooood morning Vietnam' everytime I woke up and finding out how much dong (Vietnam's currency) I could get for my dollar, along with all the other dong jokes I planned on fitting into my days.

Little did I know there were many more exciting things to do in Vietnam than making dong jokes, shouting unoriginal movie references and listening to Billy Joel's Goodnight Saigon on repeat.

So on the 29th of September I said my farewells to Thailand after almost 5 months and boarded a plane to Ho Chi Vegas ready for a new chapter.

View from Haad Chao Phao Resort on Koh Phangan. Ridiculously cheap dorms, close to a beautiful beach, perfectly chilled atmosphere and this girl still couldn't relax.

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