Since he was at the end of his trip Heewon decided he wanted a bit of comfort and decided to book himself a nice hotel room for his last few days. We were chatting about our rooms when he sent me a picture of his, which included a huge couch. I jokingly replied, “It’s huge, I could sleep on that couch!” but he generously said, “Sure? If you want to you can.” I had already paid for my dorm room for that night, but he said if I wanted to move Saturday morning it was fine with him, so I figured why not. Which is how I also wound up spending the last few days of my Bangkok trip in luxury, and not even on a couch.
My trip to Thailand was unplanned, I only knew it would begin with a good friend, relaxing on the beach and then, who knows? As I should have known Chiang Mai pulled me back and within a few days of landing in the country I had a ticket North booked. Although I have a spot (Teeraya) in Chiang Mai that I love I thought I’d take a look through the Couchsurfing profiles and see if anything jumped out. Loads of profiles were expats and digital nomads, living in Chiang Mai and offering up their couch or floor for the wandering souls, not so much what I was interested in, but then I came across Peace’s profile. An energetic, enthusiastic local who just so happened to host English camps and was sometimes looking for volunteers, I was interested and so I sent him a message. Within no time he got back to me with a detailed response, including an offer for me to join an upcoming English camp, the only catch it was in Krabi - the pace I was about to leave.
This story starts walking down the streets of Chiang Mai with my new friends from the UK, all of us with a large beer in hand. What I assumed would be a fun last night out in Chiang Mai, a few drinks, new bar, good food and possibly a ladyboy show, turned into a pivotal moment shaping the next few weeks of my travels and possibly more.
When traveling I find that I’m quick to adapt to the different surroundings and crowds that I immerse myself into. I’ve never had a major problem finding comfort in a new situation, no matter how different it may be to what I’m used to. It’s funny, actually the most uncomfortable I found myself in the last year were the two times I was preparing to leave the United States, not sure what laid ahead in my life. Once I found myself abroad though those worries disappeared and I fell back into my Chameleon skin.
After my month of paradise, new friends, and lots of yoga it was time for me to return to the hustle and bustle of the big city, Bangkok. I arrived a bit more rested than my previous train trip to the South and quickly found my way to my new hostel. It was early meaning our room wasn't ready, instead I took over the waiting area with all of my crap and waited for my friend Laura to join me. She was due to arrive on a 7am flight but thanks to a delay, all the transportation and maybe a quick wrong turn she arrived closer to 12 (just as I was beginning to kind of, get concerned)
It's kind of crazy to think back to the day that I first came across Vikasa yoga, from a Facebook add of all places, how long ago it was but short it seems. I actually never click on those things but for some reason the Vikasa add caught my eye and I decided to give the website a few minutes of my deskwarming time. Now, having completed the course I'm pretty happy about those few minutes I gave up. During a month on the island of Koh Samui I met some awesome people, did lots of yoga, climbed one million stairs, relaxed at the beach, learned about myself and ate lots of coconut, oh yeah and became a certified yoga teacher!
Just like that and my time at Vikasa is almost at an end, it's hard to believe it was a little over three weeks ago that I arrived here not knowing what to expect or who I would meet; now as I'm preparing to leave (thankfully with big plans to distract me) I know i'll miss my time here. Some days were a struggle to get through; my comfy bed luring me in, restless legs in meditation, long afternoon lectures and of course the dreaded chaturungas. But when the days were good (which was more often than not) they were good. Mornings filled with beautiful sunrises, peaceful morning meditation, delicious food, hours by the pool or at the beach, massages, and new feats reached when Kosta pushed us the extra inch. I didn't actually come into this training with a full on intent to leave after and start teaching; to be honest I wasn't even sure I could do it. But now all of that has changed just a little bit.
I've been in Thailand now for about three weeks now but I haven't actually seen that much of the country. I spent my first few days in Bangkok, faced restless sleep on the overnight train to Surat Thani and did some hiking in Koh Sok National park, but then the last two weeks slowed down a bit. I'm currently studying yoga at Vikasa Yoga retreat and as awesome as it is, I kind of feel like I'm living in a bubble. Being here it's easy to forget that we're still in Thailand, especially when our outings involve more tourists than locals. All of that changed last Sunday though, when I was reminded of the warm smiles and friendliness of the people in this country, during the Thai New Year celebration, Songkran.
After my adventure through Koh Sok National Park it was time for me to head East, eventually making my way to Vikasa yoga resort on Koh Samui island. In my head I had it all worked out, I found the cheapest route, planned my time accordingly and crossed my fingers. I actually remember texting my friend "I hope everything goes as planned today" but of course that did not happen. The first leg of the journey was simple, the owners of Smiley bungalows drove me to the bus stop and, although 30 minutes late, the bus picked me up with no problems. It was once I was on the bus and decided to read the wikitravel article for Surat Thani that I realized I'd probably be encountering some problems.
Basically my entire trip to Thailand revolved around my yoga teacher training course at Vikasa yoga so I had to plan a travel route around that. I arrived in Bangkok a week before it was due to begin (since that's when my Cambodian visa expired) but knew that I didn't want to spend an entire week in the city. I did a little research and realized I could head south and make a stop at Koh Sok National park to get in a little nature and hiking before being held captive on a gorgeous island for a month. (note the sarcasm).
High on the tourist track for a reason, home of good food (mostly) happy people, rich history and culture. Thailand as many tourist soon learn is just easy. Easy to visit, easy to get around and even easier to stay.