My biggest worry coming on a 5 week South East Asia adventure as a solo traveler was the fear of being alone: having to eat alone or sit in a hostel alone at night because I didn’t have any friends to go out with. Everyone said that South East Asia is a great place to meet like minded travellers, but what I’ve learned over the last 2 weeks is that the extent of that really depends on you…and even more so on your desire to take risks. To me, it all boils down to saying “Yes”… no matter how odd the invitation sounds, how tired you feel or what other plans you may have. At the time, I didn’t give much thought to it, but now looking back, I can pinpoint exactly the turning points of my trip so far…and they all involved taking a bit of a risk and saying “yes”.
My first night in Bangkok, I was exhausted from my 20 hour flight and was planning a quiet night in, when 3 girls in my dorm invited me to join them for a ping pong show. Now those that know what a ping pong show is, know that it probably isn’t a “must” on Bangkok’s list of activities. So I hesitated at first, tried to think of some excuse of being tired and needing some sleep, but in the end I said, “yes”. While waiting to head out to the show, the 4 of us recruited another guy from our hostel, called Will, to join us. The show was seedy, but we followed it up by a night out on Khao San Road, with some Changs, shisha and street food – a perfect first night in Thailand! Not only that, but the girls and I ended up following a similar route and bumping into each other in quite a few places along the way. And Will and I carried on spending the next 2 weeks together, first on Koh Tao as diving school classmates and diving buddies, then on Koh Phangan for jungle party, full moon party and beyond.
In Koh Phangan, Will and I stayed in different hostels, and I was once again faced with a decision. Do I accept the invitation to head to Indian buffet dinner with a bunch of guys from my dorm (all of whom seemed a bit intimidating at first) or do I stay put until I figure out how to meet up with Will later in the night. Despite a bit of hesitation at first, I joined the guys for dinner, I knew I made the right decision. Will and I ended up joining them for a Jungle party that night, along with the Full Moon Party the following night. 2 great nights that made my Koh Phangan experience that much better!
And then there was a time I said “no”. The day after the Jungle Party, 3 of the guys from my hostel invited me to join them for a day of scooter adventures exploring the island beyond the parties and the Haad Rin Beach. A few of my Koh Tao friends were arriving in Koh Phangan that day and I decided to decline the invitation and spend a day wandering around Haad Rin instead. When the guys got back that evening, their stories and pictures made me pretty jealous and to this day I regret saying “no” to an off the beaten path experience on Koh Phangan.
I alway say that in life there should be no regrets, just lessons learned, so my lesson, and maybe a lesson you can learn from me as well, is ” just say yes”! Especially if you a hesitating and it feels slightly uncomfortable, because it will likely lead to an unforgettable experience…and let’s be serious, life is all about those!