So it’s a New Moon and I’m in a party hostel in Patong, and while my boyfriend and my mate go out on a bar crawl [complete with hostel vests and buckets of alcohol] I’m staying here to write this.
I hate Patong.
I cannot overstate that to be honest. When I agreed and booked a party hostel I knew what I was signing up for, and just in case I didn’t, they make you sign a disclaimer at check in that makes it clear that there will be a lot of nudity and tequila shots.
Which we all thought [you included] would be right up my street…
Turns out, I’m really not 22yo anymore.
For me, Thailand, and travelling generally, is not a bar crawl in matching t-shirts that ends with a McDonalds. I can do that shit at home. And while I thought I would be on board for two nights… I’m just not.
When I walk down the street and all the food is Western, all the people are hustling [read: hassling] to make a living, and 85% of the faces you see are white, I am not in the right place.
Everything is loud. And everyone is boring.
Ok. Maybe that is an overstatement. Not everyone is boring. But the majority of people are the same here. You have the same conversation 50 times a day. This is quite literally the embodiment of white privilege, and it makes me so uncomfortable.
Walking down the beach here is less enjoyable than Brighton on a bank holiday. It is strewn with rubbish, the sun loungers are 3 rows deep and the swimming is penned in to allow the jet skis and speedboats access.
This is not paradise.
I saw my first Thailand Starbucks today. And considering I’ve been in three Thai airports now and not seen one, that’s quite a testament to the kind of place this is.
It was next door to McDonalds. Which, admittedly, we did eat in. Because if all you can get is Western food, you might as well go all in, right?! [Gah.]
In fairness, I did get a good Pad Thai at the hostel restaurant. But when reading the menu I almost missed the Thai food options, which were in small font in a tiny box at the bottom.
Do not get me wrong, I am not a seasoned traveller. I cannot navigate my way through rural Thailand on a motorbike doing nothing but homestays and going without WiFi, air con or French fries. [I mean, I don’t even know if that is what it would be like to do that!] But I do know that this is not the Thailand I want to experience.
This is not the beachy paradise I imagined the south to be.
I’m getting on a ferry tomorrow at 7.30am to try again. Koh Lanta… let’s see what you’ve got. It surely cannot be like this…
My mate did an organised group tour of Bali last year, and she assures me that everywhere is like this – noisy, crazy traffic, and westernised. You cannot walk 10 steps without someone trying to sell you something – “It’s how they make all their money, from tourism, it’s just like that everywhere.”
We came from Pai, and Pai is not like this. Chiang Mai, while busy on the main road, is not like this. We went to Kata beach, and we may have been approached maybe once on the beach to buy something… Kata is not like this.
I am still seeking my deserted beaches and my little slice of paradise by the sea. I understand that it cannot remain deserted paradise if all the western tourist go there. But I am holding out hope for that on a private longtail boat tour, complete with snorkelling – which I absolutely do now, who knew!
So instead of getting a matching t-shirt and a hangover, and glittering up as I would at home, I’m spending my New Moon magic reminding myself of all the magic I have experienced so far, and all the magic that is yet to come.
I’ve experienced a lot of ‘firsts’ in the past 10 days, and every day here there are more. The learning is constant. It is expansive [even in Patong – though goodness, I am excited to leave]. And I am super grateful for that – for the learning and expansion.
I am very aware of how privileged I am to be here. And of how utterly magical it is that I’m travelling with someone who is the very definition of supportive, who is completely on my wavelength, and who is probably more positive than even I am capable of being [Thank you, babe].
As the days pass by, AP’s last day gets closer and closer, and I am not looking forward to him leaving. We’re having such an adventure. I would never have gotten on a bike without him, or in the water like that. I would never have put on fins and a snorkelling mask and swam out to sea with fish next to my face. And food poisoning alone would have just been even more horrific.
In 10 days, I’ve gone from 98% dry land only, to ‘can we go swimming today?’ I’ve gone from being too scared to get on a bike, to wanting to do an entire motorbike tour [in the future]. I’ve gone from ‘I hate the sea’ to ‘let’s learn how to sail and go island hopping by ourselves’.
I even out-swam him with fins on! I genuinely beat him back to shore. Admittedly I was more motivated to get out of the water as it was too rough and I’d had enough after an hour of being sloshed around out there. But he assures me he was genuinely trying to keep up with me.
I’m still some way off of ‘water baby’ status – I would defo panic without fins and a mask. But considering I said ‘I would never do that’, and I hated it, and that I just couldn’t use a snorkel…I’d say I’m doing quite well.
Sophia Amoruso [GirlBoss/NastyGal] posted earlier today and asked at the end of her post ‘what do you want to accomplish in 2 years?’ Well babe, at this rate I could actually do it all couldn’t I?!
That said, AP goes home in a few days, and the dream team gets separated… So the adventure will start to look very different… I don’t know what that means yet, but I am confident that this moon’s dreams, and all the dreams I’ve been dreaming for the past few years, will be manifesting in ways I can’t even imagine. Because so far this year, that’s what’s happening…
So my question to you is the same as Sophia’s… What do you want to achieve in two years? Dream big now, it is a New Moon after all…
[Picture: a selfie of me rocking the beach bum look as I can’t quite manage to GoPro yet…]