Mindful Adventures in Thailand Part Two
If you haven't already, you can read Part One of Mindful Adventures in Thailand here.
Our first mission was to find good coffee. We covered ourselves in sunscreen, packed a few bottles of water and left the cool sanctuary of the resort to head out on our first real adventure in Thailand.
The air felt thick with humidity and wrapped us in a stifling (and sometimes, overwhelming!) blanket of heat.
After a long Winter in Melbourne, I welcomed the warmth and appreciated it.
However, after walking down the streets for about half an hour, the heat combined with the strong smells of sun-damaged fruit and petrol, people constantly trying to sell us a taxi ride (or a massage, or a suit, or food, or a bikini, or a pair of sunglasses!), sweat trickling down our backs and our water slowly running out, we were ready to chill out for a while! Fortunately, we came across a cafe not long after that, where we enjoyed smooth and creamy coffees, delicious curries for lunch and the sweet air conditioning.
On our second night, we were walking home from dinner when a few drops of water began falling from the sky. Within a minute, those few drops had transformed into torrential rain and we were suddenly running through the streets as they filled up with water. It was dark, but the water was warm and I couldn’t stop laughing. We wrapped our phones in a shirt, then asked for a plastic bag from one of the market stalls. By the time we reached our room, we were both completely saturated from head to toe and I tucked that memory away in my mind as something to cherish.
Our next big adventure was a day trip to Phi Phi Island on a speedboat. This was one of the adventures I’d most been looking forward to and I was really excited to see more of the beauty of Thailand.
However, I was also nervous because I’m prone to motion sickness and it was a shake up to the routine we’d quickly established during our trip.
Do you also find that, no matter where you are, the activities you seek and implement into your holiday reflect what you already love to do?
For us, we love drinking coffee together, exercising, eating good food, taking meaningful breaks and talking. While those things made me feel safe, we also acknowledged how important it was for us to seek out new experiences and embrace them. I hoped that this day trip would help us do that (even if it was a little intimidating to me!).
And I will say that our adventures to Phi Phi Island gave us plenty of new experiences, even though they weren’t what I expected them to be! I’d imagined tranquil, empty and picturesque beaches, blue skies, culture and swimming in the beautiful ocean.
While the islands themselves were stunning, the beaches were crowded with other tourists and my introverted self was really thrown. I felt self-conscious, overwhelmed and afraid to let down my walls. I almost felt like we were cattle, being herded from one tourist destination to the next, without the cultural experiences I'd been hoping for. Mindfulness has really helped me over the last few years to hone my awareness of challenging feelings, to acknowledge them, talk about them and move forward.
By the time we reached the snorkelling islands, I was ready to let go of some of my fears and doubts. As we were snorkelling, I felt so in my element and captivated by the environment that I could truly appreciate and enjoy the moment. The water was comfortably cool, there were colourful fish, clusters of urchins lined the surface of rocks and I embraced the strange feeling of breathing underwater.
I could feel myself let go of all the other thoughts which had been swirling around in my mind and really sink into the present moment. As soon as it happened, I felt a little wave of relief- this is how I love to be.
This is why I continue implementing mindfulness into my life in as many ways as I can!
Can I just take a moment to mention deep fried bananas with ice cream?! Warm, sweet, sticky, textured- my mouth is watering right now even thinking about them! They became one of our favourite holiday treats and we ate different versions of this dessert at a few places (once, overlooking a rainforest as we sat on the balcony of a café built into the mountainside).
A few days after our Phi Phi Island adventures, we planned to create a day trip ourselves. We had a plan to walk to the markets, enjoy a coffee, then find a tuk tuk to drive us the hour or so to visit the Gibbon Project.
However, we began our walk and started talking with a taxi driver who offered to take us (and wait) while we went on our adventure. The idea of his air conditioned car (and good wifi to receive photos of Moose from my mum!) sold us on the idea and we decided to change our plan. Plus he was nice, which always helps!
On the trip, our driver (Nicky) explained more about the areas we were driving through, which I really enjoyed. We learned about the rubber trees, we saw where his daughter went to school, he told us more about the dogs (which were everywhere) and corrected our pronunciation of the limited Thai words we’d learned.
When we arrived at the national park and Gibbon Project, the eerie calls of the gibbons sliced through the otherwise quiet air. As we approached, we read the fact signs about these unique creatures and the uncertainty of the future in front of them.
I’d done quite a bit of research to ensure that if we visited animals in Thailand, it would be somewhere ethical and I was really glad to discover this place.
It was horribly sad to hear about the previous lives of the gibbons there and how they ended up in rehabilitation. Being mistreated as pets and used unethically (and illegally) as tourist attractions were part of many of their stories. I’m no expert in this area, but I really would like to encourage you that before you travel, you research the places you intend to visit.
We decided to further explore the national park and walked along a path to a waterfall. The greenery was so lush and vibrant and we loved having some time away from the hustle and bustle of Patong. The waterfall itself was beautiful, with water cascading into the pool below and echoing through the valley with a rushing, thunderous sound. We realised that this was the type of activity we really wanted to incorporate more into the trip and we started researching how to do that!