I got published! Here’s another in-betweener before my third post on Thailand.
First published on Tripzilla, on June 15, 2017.
We hear a hundred great things about solo travel. How it changes our perspective about life, that it helps us find ourselves, the stories of newly made friendships along the way – all of the things that make your eyes glisten with aspiration. These are, of course, true and essential especially for self-growth and development. However, sometimes we need to look at the reality that comes with solo travel. Here are a few things that you should ponder on to prepare yourself for that big trip:
There will be plenty of opportunities for you to talk to other travellers. Sometimes you will meet them at the airport even before you fly to your destination, and hit it off from there. You’ll immediately make plans to travel together, but at other times you’ll go your separate ways.
Loneliness hits particularly those people who choose not to associate with other travellers. This could be for a whole lot of different reasons. Eventually, they realise that those exotic meals, that two-hour bus ride, or those magnificent new views are just better shared with someone else.
Yes, even on a budget. A three to four-day trip is fine, but going for more than a week could break the bank. This is true most especially when transferring from city to city. Inexpensive lodging won’t always be available. If the moment comes when you have to book a hotel room, you won’t have anyone to share that expense with.
It’s exciting to think about not having to depend on other people. You can see the sites at your own pace! You can choose which places to prioritise, and which ones to pass when you end up getting tired halfway through the day. But prior to that, there’s still some planning involved. There’s the task of searching the how (to get there), the what (to ride), and the which (hostel is the best). You do not want to find yourself going in circles, just because you failed to map your day out. That entire load is on you and you have no one to divide the tasks with.
For some people, it’s a challenge to eat in restaurants alone. It’s even more of a challenge when you want to document all of your meals. Yet, you don’t want to look like another millennial who just can’t stop sharing on social media.
The same goes for taking pictures of yourself, in front of a good spot. I’m not talking about the usual selfie. I’m talking about the whole shebang. As in, setting up a tripod and taking countless of photos, because the darn camera just won’t focus on you. Trust me; I’ve acquired quite a few laughs from doing this.
Being mindful of your belongings shouldn’t even be a question. For the duration of your travel, consider everything that’s inside your bags as your entire life. This becomes a struggle at times. Wanting to go to the toilet, but having no space in the cubicle for your large sized luggage, creates a dilemma. Getting distracted during a train ride while your bags just sit there, ready for the taking, could also create a setback. Basically, you’ll have no one to help you be mindful of your belongings.
There’s also the issue of looking out for yourself, especially for women. Doing so in your home city is one thing. It’s another thing when you’re in a city not knowing the language. You could potentially get lost and you know no one who can help you in times of trouble. If you’re really one of the more cautious, you’ll have to prepare emergency numbers, hospital addresses (possibly written in the local language), list down all the nearest police station, or keep your roaming data on the entire time – a few things I have actually done, myself. No shame.
That being said, the cons of solo travel should never hinder you from going out there. The pros of solo travel will always overweigh the cons. And if the latter does find itself to you, it can be something you can learn from to prepare yourself for your many future solo travels.
July 2, 2017
My day started earlier than the rest of my family’s. I woke up at 4 a.m. for no particular reason, checked my phone, and couldn’t go back to sleep. There’s the one lesson that I can never learn: not checking any electronic device in between groggy stirs. Oh wells, the damage has been done.
I got out of bed at 5:30 to shower, and by 6:30 I was ready for our hotel’s buffet breakfast. Our tour guide wouldn’t be arriving until 7:30 to pick us up for our day’s trip around Bangkok, so I took my precious time in the restaurant.
There was no such thing as Filipino Time in Bangkok, as our tour guide was already waiting outside with our van, even before the scheduled pick up time. I say this because, regardless if I have been exposed to countless cultures, I still falsely believe that it is a South East Asian thing to be late for a couple of minutes. But I digress.
So all 11 of us – me, my family, plus the tour guide and the driver – hopped on the van and proceeded to interject into Thailand’s traffic. Our destination for the day was the Grand Palace, where the body of Thailand’s Late King is still housed, and where the Temple of the Emerald Budhha is conveniently adjacent to.
After seeing these glorious structures and that majestic green god, I was surprised to hear that there was one more place we needed to go to. We stopped by a jewelry manufacturing company to see how Thailand assembles their most prized gems into necklaces and rings.
We were then herd into a room full of displays, in the company’s hopes that we would buy a few shiny things. No such purchases were made. Thankfully, we didn’t have to stay long in such a tempting place. We needed to hurry back to the hotel, for a few hours rest, before our next activity that was to happen at 7 that evening – of which events you will hopefully read in my next post.
July 01, 2017
I woke up way before daybreak to prepare for our flight from Cebu to Manila, where we waited for at least 3 hours for our 9 a.m. connecting flight to Bangkok. I took this trip with my dad’s side of the family, and it was arranged by a travel agency of my older sister’s choosing.
We had five days to spend in Thailand, and our first day’s itinerary was blank. So naturally – and because this family’s “all about that shopping life” – we went to Pratunam Market at 2 p.m., immediately after dropping our bags off in the hotel.
The market was where we spent all of our time in, for our first day. I can’t decide whether I regret it or am content with it. The former, because there’s heaps to see and loads to do in Thailand, other than a market, during a visitor’s first day. And the latter, because I was able to buy a generous supply of clothes for myself and some gifts for my family.
It’s true what they say, Thailand is home to cheap retail and even cheaper wholesale goods.