Since moving from Georgia to Colorado at the end of last year, I have come up with reason after reason not to sit down and write this post. Literally, reason after reason. Now, close to a year later, since returning from Thailand with my Mom, sister and brother, I have figured out my aversion.
I have figured out why, truly, instead of writing my heart, I have stared at a blank page.
My reason has actually been at the surface of my mind for some time now, and I haven’t wanted to acknowledge it. Similar to the way the pair of old holey socks always find their way to your hands, over and over again, when really, you should buy or wear that new pair. Kind of like that.
And my reason, my old socks, is that I have been unwilling to shed the older versions of myself. The versions of me who were constantly traveling to new places outside the USA, seeking the wild, the sacred and unknown at a sweet and consistent pace. I told myself that if I wrote this post, it would be a tragedy of sorts. A task that would scribe the last word on the “young and traveling” chapter of my life. The first end of a fantastic and thrilling journey. And, until now, I simply was not ready. I mean, the last ten years of my life have been truly BOOK WORTHY, to me. I have experienced so much, learned in light years and loved ever so deeply. All the little moments, the butterfly details, of these past ten years have been completely auspicious and joyful. They have illuminated my view on our world, my place in it, my dharma. They have lifted me up and transformed me into a much more kind and compassionate human being. My experiences traveling in the last ten years have led me to my own truth, to my freedom, and I am oh so thankful.
But, of course, I can’t keep ignoring the old pair of socks in my drawer. I could wash them, mend them, but the truth is, like the old version of myself, they have run their course. They have embraced my feet as much as they could bare. I wore the “young and traveling” pair of socks to their thin. And now, there is no need to keep fiddling with them, identifing with the old version of myself, when it can no longer be of any use. It is time to close that door, to truly OPEN UP to my new chapter, to acknowledge my new socks.
You get me?
So, that is what I am doing now. Before this post, I would say I have traveled 90% of the way towards fully embracing my new chapter; my, I own more than a backpack, we have a house and a pretty settled life chapter. But I was, until now, still gripping on in a way. But, here I am now, telling the tale of the tail-end of my last night trip; sealing it up in my treasure chest of memories. So, here we go. Let the shedding begin.
It had been at least 3 years since the last time she traveled with me. 3 whole years. A time in which I had traveled across maybe 10 more countries, either solo or with Anastasia or Rob. And now, after all the hoping, my Mom was finally on her way to travel with me in my old “home” of Thailand! Soon, I would be getting to show my home my home, showing my sweet Mama my stomping grounds of Thailand.
Sitting inside the arrival areas of the Bangkok Airport, I couldn’t help but to have the widest smile running across my face. My Mom was almost here and arriving on the first day of Songkran, Thai New Year at that! So much laughter and fun was in store for the both of us.
After waiting a short bit, I finally saw her and ran in for the biggest hugs- she had made it! After warm embraces, her sharing with me the ease of her flight and chugging a bunch of water, we sat down to have a short chat- because like always, my Mom had an idea.
After the ease of her own flight, she wanted to know my thoughts on a last minute flight for my sister, Maeghan, and her husband, Paxton. Would it be possible? Could we get them into all of our same hotels? All of that jazz. And my answer, yes and yes! It was going to be hard, getting all the travel arrangements in place. But, you know me, I love a travel challenge. And while I was indeed looking forward to solo time with my Mama, to get to share my home of Thailand with my sister and brother too would be SUCH a huge blessing, even better with all of us together. So, with that in mind, we made a call to them and started the convincing process. Luckily, it didn’t take long, they were in! While they made their flight arrangements, Mom and I traveled back to Dawn and Donovan’s apartment (dear friends of mine) to freshen up and head out for the Songkran festivities!
Dawn being home in Texas at the time, Donovan, my Mom and myself headed out to Soi 21 for all the fun. The word flabbergasted comes to mind when I think about my Mom’s first day in Bangkok. For me, it seems so normal now, Thai culture. All the smiles, the ease, the craze of traffic tied to the balm of sugar and spiritual haze. The cleansing and purification behind the traditions of water with the New Year, and the slap of clay for blessings. But for her, these first few impressions left her without words. Only laughter came out.
The following day, we flew to the city of Trang where Maeghan and Paxton would soon meet us. Mom and I spent one night in the small town, attending a local Songkran festival and street shopping.
Later the next day, my Sister and Paxton arrived!
Words can’t express how excited I was to share my traveling world with the three of them! Once we got them back to the hotel from the airport, we grabbed some watermelon shakes and headed towards the ferry. The ride was all so sickening, as most van rides in Thailand are, but hey, they were getting the real deal.
From Trang, we hopped on a small ferry to the Island of Koh Mook; Koh Mook is part of the few Trang Islands, just about an hour outside the main land. We chose Koh Mook because this set of islands are rarely traveled, and not part of the normal backpacker route! Something new for me, and of course, for them too. As noted in my Lonely Planet guide, the island was quite small. It didn’t even really have a town. Only a single road running through a collection of travel outfitters and local restaurants. But, we loved it. Because I can only fit in so much in this piece, I want to give you just my top two highlights which were the thousands of starfish on our shoreline in front of our bungalows the evening of our arrival AND the sunrise mediation the next morning. Absolutely serene.
(Below is my beautiful sister, Maeeghan)
After only one night in Koh Mook, we hopped on a ferry the following day to Koh Lipe. Lipe had been the island I had dreamed of traveling to the entire time I lived and traveled through Thailand. Koh Lipe is Thailand’s most southern island, and quite a good distance away from the other popular islands such as PhiPhi or Tao. But, now that we were on the west side of Thailand, the trek to Lipe was feasible and I was oh so excited. I had always heard from friends and fellow travelers that Lipe remained undeveloped and closer to its natural state than any of the other islands. Unfortunately, I think we arrived about 5 years too late. While the island did have a lot less travelers, I wouldn’t necessarily say it felt untouched. I would say it comes close in feel to Lanta and maybe 15 years away from the hype of Phi Phi.
But, the time we spent together in Lipe was so beautiful and memorable. We went snorkeling, swimming, walking around in the night markets, watched sunsets with mojitos and fell into a deep sense of gratitude for family and experiencing the unknown together.
We stayed in Lipe for 3 nights before heading to the all famous Phi Phi. My family said I had to take them to at least 1 popular destination. So, I did. And, I hate to say it, but I am thankful I listened to them on this one. Koh Phi Phi, sitting right next to the beauty of Koh Lay is just too perfect to pass over. While the center of Phi Phi is overloaded with drunken backpackers, there are gorgeous, more private hotels and bungalows around the outskirts of the island. And getting to take the three of them to the solitude of Koh Lay, on an early early morning, and then cruising around the national park was a highlight of our whole trip. My Mom, sister and I, holding hands, floating in the clear blue water, staring up into the endless sky. That day was filled with moments I will cherish my whole life.
After a couple of nights in Phi Phi, we flew north to Chang Mai. My Mom had given me two bucket list items she wanted to mark off during our trip. One was spending a day with elephants in a sanctuary and the other was meeting a monk inside a Buddhist Temple. Not that these two requests are difficult to meet in Thailand, being that there are tons of places you can hang out with elephants and more temples than imaginable, but I wanted to provide my Mom with the most kind and authentic experience. So, for playing with the gentle giants in a kind way, Chiang Mai is the answer. We spent a total of 4 days in Chiang Mai, visiting its numerous and beautiful temples, shopping, eating everything, Paxton receiving the authentic experience of the San Yant tattoo blessing and all four of us visiting the Elephant Nature Park of Chiang Mai. Seeing my Mom jump back with a tiny bit of fear and a really big smile at feeding these beauties made my heart grow bigger, right there.
So much wonder and love happened during our time in Chiang Mai.
I think for quick travelers, Bangkok is a hard place to love. So, the last 2 days in Bangkok were not my families favorite, but what made it wonderful for them was my friends- Donovan and Robbie. Together, us 6 spent the day at the Chatuchak market, sharing beers, laughing, and shopping. We all loved our time together so much that Donovan even invited my parents and Maeghan and Paxton to his and Dawn’s big day (their wedding day) home in Texas this coming April! Literally, I love my friends and my family.
Oh, and I didn’t take a photo of my Mom with the Monk, because that moment was sacred. But here she is after her blessing, soaking it all in in front of another statue of Buddha.
I am so blessed.
I could share so much more in this post, but it could go on forever. Making a long story short, my plan was to return home to Rob in Georgia, for by then, he was supposed to have made it through the last phase of Ranger School. Unfortunately, I got a call the night before our flight home that he didn’t pass the third phase and would be in hold over for another month and a half, before completing and graduating the Army’s toughest school.
So, I could have stayed, and continued my 4 month journey in Asia…but then I would miss Rob’s Family Day in Georgia. So, I decided to fly home anyways, simply for the 6 hours I would get to spend with him. And I wouldn’t change it for a thing.
Well my friends, if you have read this post all the way to this point, I want to say thank you. I know it missed much butterfly detail, but I now at least have something on digital paper. I have shed that last bit of skin, now feeling lighter and more ready to embrace what is now. The last ten years have been exhilarating. They are what I needed to grow, to fly as the butterfly I am today. The curious thing about life is that you can’t hold on to what was. Old stories, old versions of yourself, old patterns. Life, no matter what, pushes you through the canal of change. It can take time, yes, but shedding layers is what helps us to shine our brilliancy. Thank you for helping me to reveal this new layer of mine.
I know its variations and beauty will shine through.
And I hope you continue to enjoy reading the details.
Sending SO much LOVE,