I’m currently having a ‘what the hell am I doing here?’ moment. I had an amazing time yesterday, enjoyed the water fight that Thai New Year (Songkran) is known for and even got into it today.
But right now, I’m back at my hostel sitting on my bed and wondering what I’m doing. I booked myself for four nights here in Chiang Mai to ensure I’d be here for all of the New Year festivities (three day experience) and have now booked another four nights at another hostel. I didn’t really know what to expect here, and all I’d really heard about Chiang Mai was to go trekking with the hill tribes.
I’ve since learnt that this is one of the largest cities of Thailand, that Songkran goes especially off here and that there are also lots of elephant sanctuaries, adrenalin activities and cooking classes to do. So, where do I start?
I’ve been pretty good with not getting overwhelmed the past eight weeks and have been taking my time getting to places, finding a vibe I like and sticking with it. I think what happened is that I got too settled in with Tatum. We met in Hanoi, did separate short trips away and then travelled together for a couple of weeks. We’re now heading in different directions and I miss having that company, the familiarity.
Yesterday I caught up with Alex, a guy I used to work with. He’s based in Bangkok but was here for work and extended to be here for New Year. I had so much fun hanging with him, getting into water fights and just chilling. I actually had a couple of surreal moments, where I couldn’t really comprehend that I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with Alex whom I used to work with in Melbourne. I was there in the middle of an epic water fight, something that would never happen back home and I was having an amazing time.
Apart from just having the company of a friend, it was nice to have the familiarity of work, him knowing my history there and being able to talk about people without having to explain who was who or the significance. I love spending time with new people, getting to know them and sharing myself, but I’m still quite reserved. With Alex, there was none of that, except for what happened with Gary. He was polite enough to not ask about the engagement break off. When I went back to work last year after getting engaged, he was the first to come and give me a big congratulatory hug.
He did ask why I decided to travel, and I didn’t go into the details, just gave the basic overview: last year was a great year, then a sucky year and then my apartment was put up for sale. I wasn’t hugely engaged with my new job and needed to change things up. Whilst I have told a few people about what happened with Gary, it didn’t seem right to go into that yesterday and I don’t want to dwell on it.
But now, I’m just not quite as happy as I was yesterday. I don’t want to pretend and I don’t really feel up to putting in the effort of being social. This hostel is great and if I were feeling differently I’d absolutely love it. The dorms are awesome, it’s a mini private room within a dorm so I’m getting some privacy and space and the mattress is actually a mattress, rather than a foam pad.
It’s the vibe that I can’t get into. It may be that it’s much more party centric due to Songkran, and I knew that coming in. I tried to engage this morning. I got myself kitted up in my water-gun backpack and joined in the fight with the hostel across the street. I got drenched and succeeded in drenching others. I chatted to a few people, but after a couple of hours, I wasn’t feeling it anymore. Apart from wanting to enjoy myself here, I do want to experience more of the Thai culture and New Year celebrations.
Alex and I spent the afternoon in the main street watching the parade and fighting with the passing tourists and locals, forming alliances and just having a great time. It was so much more interactive. Hostel against hostel and the handful of locals that came through the street just wasn’t right.
So I walked to the main street alone and got shot at, shot at others and enjoyed myself. I was however craving someone to share this with. I always knew that my biggest struggle on this trip was going to be meeting new people and engaging with them. In the end, I didn’t struggle in Vietnam and loved it. I can’t be too hard now; I have only been in Thailand for two nights. But I don’t know. I’m just not feeling it.
I have a lot of buts written through here. I’m good at justifying things, so a but always works well for me. But now, I need to just get out of my head and join in the fun. Get some dinner, come back and start drinking with everyone. Do the tourist-y thing and get hammered in Chiang Mai for Songkran.
What am I doing here? Right now, feeling sorry for myself for not having any friends and not doing anything about it. In the long run, I’m here to have fun and enjoy life and gain any sort of experience that I can. Songkran may be a once in a lifetime experience for me, so I need to get the hell out of my dorm and join the hell in with it.
Stop wondering and just do it. I’m here to travel through it; to work through it. So bloody well do it.