What was your most memorable night’s sleep while travelling? ask Emma, Kelly and Rebecca as part of their new monthly travel link up. The question, rang through my head, as there have been so many memorable nights since we started travelling and I just couldn’t quite choose. As it closes today and as it is Travel Tuesday I figured I’d do it in one fell swoop. Is that even allowed in blog law? Double link-up linking?
For those who have been reading my blog for the last few months you may think of me as quite the traveller and a bit of an adventurer and, I like to think of myself like that too. But, that wasn’t always the case.
Let me start by taking you back to 2011 (let’s imagine that swirly fade-out thing they do in the movies) For years I’d been talking of going travelling, looking jealously at people with the balls to just go, but something was always holding me back. Towards the end of 2011 I started becoming very tired of just going about the grind of day-to-day life in London. Constantly working hard but not really getting anywhere apart from maybe taking a step up the rung of an endless ladder. I would stare at pictures of South-East Asia and South America and look up tours and think about whether now was the good time to go, whether it was sensible, whether I could justify it. Then I’d inevitably close that window and decide that now just wasn’t the right time.
But when the new year of 2012 rang in, an epiphany/early life crises, whatever you want to call it struck me and I decided that now was the time. I applied for leave, searched for the perfect try-and-pack-as-much-in-as possible trip, paid and it was done. In February, I left my London flat and was going off alone, leaving my hectic work life to the side. I detached my right arm, i.e. my blackberry, and got on a plane to do some of that soul searching malarkey in Thailand for three whole weeks. While this might now seem like nothing to big travellers, it was a big deal for me at the time – that was 15 days out of the 25 days of holiday I had per year, taken in February.
It was a fifteen-hour flight, of which I somehow slept nine (clearly one of the least memorable plane rides of my life) and then I was there, alone in Bangkok, in the foreignest country I’d ever been to. After paying too much for a taxi I arrived at the hotel, where I met the people I was going to be travelling with for the first time.
I had half expected to be amongst a bunch of 19-year-old gap-year students who just wanted to do body shots off each other but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself amongst people all of all ages and nationalities, all with their own reasons for needing a change of some sort.
From Bangkok we caught the night train to Chiang Mai. My most memorable night from travel thus far had been waking up in a comfy hotel bed wondering whether I’d have coffee or tea with breakfast. That night as I lay on a hard sleeper bed with just a curtain for privacy, with fifteen other travellers around me and just the noise of the train and people walking up and down the aisle offering orange juice, I realised that I was doing it. I was actually doing something adventurous. I mentally high-fived myself.
But it was after Chiang Mai, when I packed a smaller bag with just the essentials and we headed further into the unknown to trek through the heat to a tiny village where we’d sleep with the hill tribes with no electricity, no internet, just a bunch of foreigners escaping their home to hang out with the locals. There we were, this group of us from different corners of the world talking about our lives back home and why the heck we’d randomly decided to come to Thailand. That night, all we could do was eat the home-cooked meal we’d been fed, talk about everything with no distractions and then go for a walk at night to see the stars in all their glory.
I felt a million miles from home, with strangers, out of my comfort zone and yet felt completely comfortable.
Until I started throwing up. Later that night I woke up freezing and sick, hunting around for my torch and trying not to kick any of the other travellers on my way out of the hut. Some sort of foreign-hunting bug was making its way around the group and had just hunted me down. Bastard. Suffice to say, that wasn’t fun.
But it was memorable.
Despite the sickness, those nights sleeping in complete darkness, sleeping on a blanket on a hard floor struggling to get warm, then waking with the sunrise were enough to give me the travel bug and realise that I needed to start living a little more.
Life in London went back to normal for a while but my little three week glitch in Thailand was just the little extra push I needed and I’ve since had more memorable nights to write home about than I can count.