Memorable Nights in Northern Thailand

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?

hut chiang mai

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.

city streets

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Travel Tuesday

25 Responses to Memorable Nights in Northern Thailand

  1. I think one of the things I may regret one day is never going travelling on my own. As much as I would like to do it, now that I have my kiwi of three years, I love travelling with him and couldnt imagine leaving him behind (!!), so unless we break up (please no!) I will continue to live vicariously through others who have braved the world alone,wether it be for a week, a month, or a year! So thank you for sharing :)

    Louise xx

    • This was my first and last as since then we’ve been travelling together. I’m glad I got the opportunity to go alone but I’m also equally glad that I have a travel buddy to go with now! :) x

  2. This sounds like the very definition of adventure!! Minus the getting sick part that is… that’s never fun. Good on you for just waking up one day and booking a trip like this. I only went to Thailand once, and I was with my sister. I definitely want to go back one day. :)

    • Sometimes a random prompt is a handy way to tell a story which is from quite a while ago. It was quite a nice throwback for me too and made me think!

    • I did! But it was a while ago and I wasn’t quite getting the fact that it might be a good idea to actually share some of those posts as I was a bit shyer about blogging back then! They are on the ‘related’ posts on the right but I’m redoing how I organise the blog to make everything easier to find.

  3. This is beautifully written, Anna! I’m so glad you took a chance and it turned out being the best decision you’ve made thus far. I’m very excited to see where you’re headed to next. {If it’s Australia, I’m going to be very, very jealous. ;o) }

    • Your comments always make me smile :) Thank you. And yes, I’m excited too especially as we genuinely don’t quite know yet!

  4. Travelling on your own is such a great experience. I am already telling my boys how they have to do this for their ‘gap year’. I did an month on my own in Australia after already being their for the summer with a ministry group and what I enjoyed was really seeing how strong you can be when you are out of your comfort zone or without anyone to rely on. Really loved reading and especially seeing your photos with this one in Thailand. I can relate with sleeping on the floor (thats what we did for a summer while I was pregnant no less).

    • Oh wow – that sounds like an adventure too. I’d absolutely do the same with my future kids. Travelling alone, whether it’s for a few weeks, months or a whole gap year, really lets you get to know yourself a little better.

  5. I loved reading this post Anna! I can absolutely relate to sitting in a 9-5 job, daydreaming about travelling and experiencing all the wonderful places in the world! And then one day – bam – that’s it, you take a leap of faith and finally book something during one of your wanderlusting moments and you never look back! I adored Thailand when I went a few years back and would love to go again (and it’s so close to get to from my home country, Australia!). This post reminded me of that so it’s now back on my travel wish list! Thanks for sharing such a beautifully written story!
    Carly xx
    http://www.letuswanderlust.blogspot.com

    • Thanks Carly! And yes, this is one of the many many reasons living in Australia would be a dream (with a stop off in Thailand to and from Europe – perfect). Can’t wait to go back either and do some more exploring of the lesser known parts. x

  6. I love traveling with my partner, but I am also really glad I got to experience moving to another continent on my own first. It sounds so cliche, but it really does teach you a lot about yourself- how you cope, how you handle stress, how you enjoy things, etc. x

    • I know! I felt like a big ol’ cliche writing about finding myself and all that jazz but I’m so glad I got to do a little on my own and I’m also so glad we get to travel together now (which teaches you a whole lot more too!) x

  7. I am thinking of taking some time off from the real world as well and doing something similar! :) Glad you finally up and did it, traveling is the most rewarding thing.

    xx
    Marisha

  8. Loved this post. Good on you! The comment about mentally high-fiving yourself made me smile. Thailand is amazing. Thank you for sharing. I’ve long been bitten by the travel bug too… x

  9. There’s still a lot more to see. I’m not travelling alone any more either which is even better, but it was nice to be able to do it once :)

  10. It’s so interesting to read about the beginning of your traveling days – I’m glad you took that leap! :) And that desire to go out and see more and more of the world… it never really goes away, does it? Your experience in Thailand definitely sounds super adventurous – especially in comparison to the comfortable nights you probably spend in London! ;) And I’m glad that it didn’t keep you from wanting to experience more of this adventurous life, but only encouraged you to want more of it! :)

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