A Solo New Year's Trip
"One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time."
During this New Year's holiday, I decided to travel alone. The school in Thailand where I am currently teaching English is a government school, thus we were only given Monday (January 2nd) and Tuesday (January 3rd) off from school. I had been invited to travel to different places all over the country with friends including up north to Pai, down south to the Koh Phanagan full moon party, and to another beach called Hua Hin. These locations seemed too far for me to travel in just a four day weekend, and I had already been to Hua Hin. After much consideration, my intuition was telling me to just take a chance and book a place where I wanted to go regardless of if others wanted to join me.
So I did it! I booked a bed in an 8-bed female dorm in the only hostel still available on Thailand's second largest island, Koh Chang.
After living in Thailand for over 2 months, this was the first solo trip I would be taking, and during such precious moments of the changing new year. I booked my bus tickets with a little help from a coworker at my school, and was lucky enough to be able to begin the trip Friday morning. After a motorbike ride, songthaew ride to the bus station, van to Bangkok, van to Trat, songthaew to the pier, ferry to the island and an hour songthaew to the opposite side of the island, I had arrived at the Asia Backpackers hostel on Koh Chang in about 10 hours. Needless to say, I was exhausted from sitting on my ass all day.
With this trip being my first solo excursion, I was unsure of what to expect. For some reason I had assumed isolation and thought about taking this silent time alone on an island to read, write and personally reflect during the moments leading up to and beginning the new year. What I didn't expect or predict were the incredible people I would meet, memories I would make and feelings of attachment I would have after falling in love with the island life.
Traveling alone gives you the freedom to do exactly what you want and not settle for others.
I booked a 5 island tour in Koh Chang for my first day on the island. Although it felt like an excursion that may have been more enjoyable with friends, I was able to spend my trip how I wanted. I snorkeled and swam when I felt like doing so. I went on an island and walked around the area as long as I wanted to. I made friends with other people and kayaked with them.
Traveling alone is the easiest way to meet new people.
During my trip, I met and had conversations with more than 20 people, from van rides, excursions, my hostel, being on the beach, going to eat and getting a massage. On the van from Bangkok, I met 2 guys from Thailand also traveling to Koh Chang. One of them told me that his brother was living in Boston, which closes the across the world gap immensely. I traveled with these two until we got to the island.
On the night of New Year's Eve, I met a group of people from my hostel, who were from all over the world (South Korea, Belgium, England, USA and Hungary). We were mostly solo travelers, and a few pairs. The ten of us got a songthaew to Lonely Beach, where there were bars and New Year's parties on the beach. Traveling alone is just traveling beside other individual or groups of people, so speak up and be friendly.
Trust instinct, your soul picks up energy for a reason.
I had an instant connection with one of the girls I met at my hostel, Tessy, from Belgium. Speaking with her felt so easy and open, like we had known each other for years and were catching up. I feel in my soul that we will be connected again in the future.
On the morning before I met the group of people from my hostel, I picked up a book from the hostel, called Maya, by Jostein Gaarder. During my time alone, I read this quotation that couldn't be more perfectly suiting to the relationships and memories I have created on this island.
It said, “That I would indeed meet the Norwegian again, almost a year later, was one of those extraordinary coincidences that add spice to life, and periodically foster the hope that secret power really do watch over our lives, and occasionally tweak the strings of destiny.”
Traveling alone has made me feel stronger and have a deeper trust and appreciation for myself and my will.
Traveling alone to this island during a time usually spent at home with friends and family, in cozy clothing, is the first time during my stay in this country that I have felt totally and completely at peace, content, and unsure about moving home so near in the future.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain