It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost ten years since I made my first trip to Thailand. I was in my early thirties at the time and bored with life. I had been dreaming about doing some traveling for a long time, but couldn’t find anyone that wanted to travel with me so I would continue to put it off. I finally realized that if I didn’t go solo, I may never go at all – and time wasn’t slowing down to wait for me. If I wanted to travel, I was going to have to do it on my own.
After some deep thought and looking at my bank account, I decided Europe was out of the question due to the costs. Asia was the next logical choice for me and after doing some research I settled on Thailand for my first international adventure. It was a long flight, but I thought it would be a good place to start. Costs for both hotel and food were going to be cheaper and it would allow me to spend 7 days exploring the country – I didn’t have a lot of vacation time back then and it was 10 days total including travel time.
Thailand came to the top of the list for many reasons. It is a well-developed country, English is spoken in tourist areas and signage was often written in both languages. It was a popular tourist spot and I felt safe traveling there alone. And the beaches looked amazing. I was sold and within a couple weeks I had plane tickets and hotels booked.
After several months of eager anticipation, my plane flight departed on Thanksgiving night. I knew the trip would be a long one, but I wasn’t quite prepared for almost a full 24hours worth of travel door to door. It took several hours and several movies for me to settle into my plane seat. I was flying premium economy on Thai Air which made things a little comfortable. This was back when Thai Air still had a non-stop from LAX to Bangkok, so it was a long time to be stuck in the metal tube.
When we started the descent into Bangkok I started to get butterfly’s in my stomach – what had I gotten myself into I thought. I had gotten a few hours’ sleep on the flight, but it wasn’t good sleep and by the time we landed I was a zombie. Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport was new, larger, and quite nice. I’m not sure why this surprised me or what I was expecting but I was impressed.
I went through the usual ceremony one does when they arrive in a foreign country, immigration, customs, baggage claim, and then a taxi to my hotel. The whole thing passed by in a blur due to lack of sleep and my overwhelmed senses. It wasn’t till I finally put my bags down in my room and I had a chance to relax that I realized, I was truly there. I was actually in Bangkok. Holy crap.
What would follow next was nothing short of a life changing experience. It was only seven days, but it was more than enough time to have a profound impact on my life for years to come. I went on a whirlwind tour of temples, palaces, and beautiful beaches. I enjoyed great food and crazy nightlife. Before it was all over I was already thinking of ways that I could return.
And return I did, over and over again. Thailand had got its hooks in me and hasn’t let go quite yet. Like so many others I’m addicted to the place. I return whenever I can and am always left with wanting more. The next trip is already in the works.