Traveling is stressful in an unorthodox way. I don’t have to deal with the typical stressors of everyday life in America, but I’ve felt the same if not a higher amount of stress since beginning my travels. That’s not to say I’m having an unenjoyable time. In fact, I’m having an amazing time that I’m already grateful for. However, it’s rough having to wake up after a night of free unlimited shots, as long as you limbo or jump rope, strap on twenty kilograms of weight and rush to the bus station, airport, pier, or all of the above in hopes of catching your ride to the next spot. I constantly worry that I’ll forget something important like my passport or bank card. Without those two things I’m fucked. So it’s important that I take time out of my days to organize all my things back into the layout that I’m used to and always double check that they’re there and safe.
On top of this, traveling long hours is very tiring. It taxes me not only physically but mentally as well. One of the last things I want to do after taking three different forms of transportation within 10 hours while hungover is spend the last of my energy on meeting new people, whom I’ll no longer be around in two days. But with that being said I believe it’s a skill that takes practice just like anything else. I’m learning to combat these things through preperation and in doing so my stress is definitely decreasing. The message I’m trying to convey here is that in traveling, just like in all other aspects of life, you have to practice good habits if you want to make the most out of your time.
One of the best habits you can practice in this lifestyle is self discipline. It is paramount that you know and respect your limits. Not only while partying but while exploring and experiencing the cultures in general.Here are a couple of stories in which I either respected or disrespected my limits. As the old adage goes, pain is the best teacher.
Scootin’ In the Rain
My first story takes place in Pai, a scenic, cozy town in northern Thailand . I’m not too fond of this town, not because it was ugly and there weren’t things to do, but because the general population of backpackers that visit Pai are there for the psychadelic culture surrounding Pai. In other words, body odor lingers around every corner, between each street vendor, and within the hammocks that I was too stubborn to stop using. The atmosphere of the town isn’t what I was looking for. Regardless, I was able to have a good time exploring the waterfalls and sprawling vistas of the lands outside of town by way of moped.
For the low low price of 150 Baht, or around $5.00 I rented a moped for 24 hours, no license or training needed. Within ten minutes I had the hang of it, mainly because it’s very similar to riding a bike, only way more dangerous. I used the moped cautiously for the first few hours as I visited a couple of different waterfalls in the area with another friend, who had two years experience riding a motorbike. At the second waterfall we ran into a larger group I met back in Chiang Mai, we joined groups and then drove around the main highway which had plenty of sights to see. Unfortunately, these people like to go fast. Literally as fast as the mopeds would allow them. I gladly drove around cautiously in the back of the group because the last thing I want is to get into a horrible motorbike accident halfway across the world, which has happened to so many people I’ve met that I don’t understand how people can drive so fast. The moment in which I disrespected my limits occurred on the main road. Earlier in the day it downpoured for about twenty minutes so the roads were wet, that’s bad omen number one. My speedometer didn’t work so I never knew how fast I was going, although I don’t think I ever went above 80 km/h, this is bad omen number two. Lastly, I don’t think my scooter had the best brakes so I was hesitant to have to stop short. All of these combined should have been enough to warrant a safe and cautious drive, which it did for the entire ride except one point. I came around a winding bend to realize I was now on a downward slope, which I had experienced many times during this half day ride, only this time I was going a little faster than usual and everyone ahead of me had stopped so they could take pictures of the view. I quickly hit the brakes, but a little too hard. After a second or two of slowing down my bike tire slid out of my control and I drifted for what seemed like an eternity, when in reality it was only about one second. Luckily I seem to have good instincts in these situations because I immediately let go of the brakes and regained control of my moped and then slowly braked until I came to a complete stop. Had I kept breaking I would have definitely crashed. Looking back, had I been disrespecting my limits that entire ride I’m certain I would have been in a terrible accident. The ride back home after that was at a steady snail pace and now I’m terrified of riding mopeds, but I’ll probably end up renting one again.
Too Many Buckets
My last night in Bangkok I drank too much which resulted in me getting sick. This happens, but the repercussions of it are what make this a great learnt lesson. The previous night I ending up hooking up with a very lively European girl. So drinking until I was sick was not the smartest thing to do on my last night in Bangkok since I most definitely wanted to hook up again, but god’s a comedian and my life is the joke, right? Anyway, after sharing a bottle of Absolut with around six people we made our way out to Khao San road to party and dance. Buckets of alcohol, which has multiple shots worth of alochol in it, are very cheap. They cost around the equivalent of a beer in America. One is perfect, two is risky. Two and a couple shots of Absolut is idiocracy. Idiocracy, thy name is Jason.
Khao San road shuts down promptly at 2:00 AM. At this point we all made our way back to the hostel to hang out more. At a certain point I got the spins and knew I was in for trouble, so I went to the bathroom to pull the trigger and end it quickly. Well, it wasn’t quick. I drank too much and my body wanted me to know that, so I was in the bathroom for about forty five minutes before I felt well enough to chug some water and head to bed. I woke up with unread messages from my hookup asking where I was, amongst other things, and a subtle hangover. I thought the water I chugged may have saved me so I went out for breakfast and packed my things so I could catch my 6:10 night train to Chiang Mai. Leaving Bangkok like that was a little annoying, I was certainly disappointed but at least I could learn from it because my suffering wasn’t over yet. My hangover hit me on the way to the train station, and it was bad. I was going to have to carry all of my luggage until I found where my train was while hoping so much that I wouldn’t throw up. The silver lining was that I was traveling with a friend, so I wasn’t alone. The train itself was awful because of how bumpy it was. It was very hard to sleep on the bumpy night train in a bed that was too small for a six foot white guy who’s nauseous, but somehow I managed to crank out a few hours of sleep before arriving in Chiang Mai thirteen hours later. That day was rough as well.
Moral of the Story
Don’t leave European girls’ 2AM messages unread.