Tomorrow I take off for the next journey of my life that I am eager to pursue. Why a girl would travel all the way to Thailand alone- my answer in short….to experience something unlike anything I've ever experienced. The last two years, I wanted to go to Thailand because I've always been drawn to the idea that life is the dream you get to create. Life is dictated by your thoughts and based on my experiences; I have come to adopt that thought process.
There is one simple line that I once read by Buddha that makes so much sense to me. Thoughts Become Things. Buddha said "All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What you think you become. In order to live rightly, you must fill your mind with the "right" thoughts. Your thinking determines your actions; your actions determine your outcome. Right thinking will grant you everything you desire; wrong thinking is a vice that will eventually destroy you. If you change your thinking you will change your life." I can relate to this on so many levels. Every day you make the choice on how your day is going to go, what obstacles you're going to overcome and the attitude you choose to have while life happens around you. I know that everything I have in my life started with a single thought created by me and the attitude to not be defeated with any of life's little tests. Of course I have days where I want to throw my hands in the air, but I continue to smile my way through it and somehow still winded up in the city of my dreams with the career of my dreams. I can not only relate to the small amount of Buddhism I've researched but I feel an undeniable urge to fly over there and be in it.
So why Thailand and not India? If I'm going to travel to that side of the globe, Thailand has been known as one of the most beautiful places in the world, not to mention that Ninety-five percent of Thais practice Buddhism. I'm not sure why after all these years I found it so easy to relate to this belief. Could I go to the library and just read more? Sure. Could I download an App that tells me everything I need to know about temples and meditating? Absolutely. But I want to go there. I want to feel what it's like to embrace their culture, their beliefs and get a better understanding of myself through the process. Maybe I'll come back and file it under the same category of my tattoo, "A good idea at the time." The truth is I'll never know unless I pursue this little dream. Everyone at one point in their life is intrigued by another countries culture and Thailand has always been one of those countries that I wanted to see.
Planning this trip has been quite the experience. I booked my flight a few weeks ago and then didn't map it all out until four days ago. I kind of feel like traveling is like watching a movie trailer. If I start watching it and like what I see so far, I'll hit stop before I see more. I don't want to spoil it for myself and I just want to wait until I actually watch it. Same with traveling, I do very basic research on all the must-see's but mostly wait until I get there and just see what unfolds. I don't want to know every detail yet, that would take the spontaneity out of it. I'd rather wake up and go to a temple that I have no clue what to expect. I'd rather have a local explain to me why it's so special and unique then read an article online that tells the story in a different light.
When you're traveling alone you have a lot prep work to do. Every country operates differently. I sat on my couch and converted every purchase from Baht to Dollar on my iPad as I booked my flights and hotels. So I sat with a notepad and made sure that every stop LAX to Taipei, Taipei to Bangkok, I had the dates and times down pat. I knew that asking people in airports would not only be frustrating but they wouldn't be able to understand me.
I had procrastinated too long to book my hostels, so unfortunately the availability was limited. In a lot of the hostels, I have to stay in the 16-22 guest dorm rooms. This will be a shock again to go from living alone to sharing my bedroom and bathroom with sixteen plus strangers. However, staying in hostels is the best way to make the most out of your trip. Your vacation is obviously to explore and open your eyes to as many places as possible, but the most rewarding part of traveling abroad are the people you meet during the journey. Last year some of my favorite memories and life lessons are from the people I met backpacking in Europe. Each person opened my world to something beautiful that I will carry in my memory forever. Would Pompeii have been so fun on my birthday last year without Mitch and Darragh? Would Florence have been so moving without my beautiful Choony? Would Rome have been so memorable without Shawn? Barcelona surely wouldn't have been the same without Darko and Bahareh. So many people you meet shape your journey not just on a trip but in life. I was lucky enough to meet people who changed me forever.
I have no idea what to expect this year. I wasn't even sure that I would go through with another one this year but as fate will have it- here I am, booked and ready to catch my flight tomorrow at LAX. So on my birthday this year I hope to be meditating in a temple and maybe ride an elephant? I know life is meant to be lived and I don't intend on waiting around to find out what else this world has in store for me. I'm excited to remove myself from work for two weeks, open my mind up to new lessons, new people and maybe a new self.