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.
Since landing in Thailand two weeks ago I’ve already experienced different situations and acted in contrasting roles. I started my trip with a week of best friend time, yoga, walking and lounging on the beach. Although it was relaxing I’ve never been too good at the typical beach vacation and soon found myself bored, itching to move on. Knowing it was a place I loved I didn’t hesitate at buying myself a ticket to Chiang Mai, and so a few days later that’s where I began my second role.
The last time I visited Chiang Mai I discovered Teeraya Boutique Hostel and will probably never stay at a different location when I visit my third home. At Teeraya a four bed dorm costs only 100 baht ($3), but that’s only the beginning, included in that price is free breakfast, water refills and there’s a pool. I checked in late at night and immediately felt at home and quickly adapted the routine I started four months prior, on my last visit. Wake up early, walk to Chiang Mai park for an hour or two of yoga and meditation, pop back into the hostel for breakfast and a swim and then consider which cafe or restaurant I want to visit for the afternoon. This worked for my first two days, but then it was time to mix things up a bit and acquire yet another new skin.
On my third day in Chiang Mai, Heather (the only other woman in my dorm) and I got new roommates. They arrived late at night and I was out early the next morning, so it wasn’t until late afternoon that we made acquaintances. Simon and Mike from Manchester, at first impressions they both seemed like fun people, smart and funny, and neither obnoxious nor (too) loud. Before long we were sitting poolside with terrible Thai alcohol (something we initially thought were cheap beers), playing cards and getting to know each other. So this was the third role of the trip, shoes I haven’t worn in a while, young backpacker here to drink and have a good time. In some amazing turn of events, after our first night (and afternoon) of drinking I managed to avoid an epic hangover (something that has become and all too regular occurrence when drinking), but we still managed to spend the day doing next to nothing.
Although I had avoided the hangover I still wasn’t feeling so hot and decided to pass when the boys suggested a repeat of the previous evening, venturing to the night market for drinking. Instead I took the night off, got some proper sleep and saved my energy for Friday, my last night in town. I was happy to find out that the daytime was just as enjoyable with these boys as the night, after rousing the boys from their hungover sleep Friday morning the four of us spent the afternoon at the zoo. I was hesitant as I’ve never thoroughly enjoyed those places, but I was confident that the company I kept would improve the situation, and I was right. The Chiang Mai zoo is huge, so after a few hours walking the grounds, and my getting head butted by a horse, we made our way back to the city to rest up before one more night out together.
I’m no stranger to staying in dorm rooms and meeting new people, but it’s not very often that I click so easily with a group. The four of us got along so well, each agreeable to the others decisions or actions, all going with the flow and only having to put up with one snorer. Our final evening started at the night market, led to a bottle of rum at Bus Bar and then a stop at a small Reggae bar before winding down the night poolside, where it had all started two days before. I unfortunately had to leave the next day and so by 11 o’clock, wishing I could sleep more was instead saying my goodbyes with a few notes of “See you later”.
As much fun as I was having with my new friends, I knew it was time to move on and change roles once again, and really my body was probably happy for it. Thanks to Couchsurfing, a friendly host in Chiang Mai and my open mind I was now due to jump in a van with 10 other strangers, road trip across practically the entire length of Thailand and volunteer for a week at an English camp in Krabi. For my third week of this trip I was ready to wear my fourth skin, one I hadn't worn in a while but used to know so well, English teacher. It would only be a week, but I was excited for this change and after that I knew there was still another role waiting for me. Although I say I wore different skins, in each role I was still 100% me because traveling we can't help not to be:
When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then.
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.