Lesson #22: Stop being so skeptical and learn to trust
I travel in order to reconnect with parts of myself that I get easily out of touch with when living within my own culture. Trust is a big one for me- approaching strangers with genuine interest instead of skepticism. Often when I am planning to set out for a new destination I am met with warning after warning- “please be careful” “Don’t end up as an episode of locked up abroad,” but I’ve found that once I am outside of America many of these fears melt away. Living on edge, on guard, with a wall up is something that I have learned, but it isn’t imperative. Thailand has reinstated my ability to trust, to approach situations openly, and expect the best from those I encounter…..
3 Days With A Karin Hill Tribe:
Recently I went on a solo adventure. I guess you could say that Thailand has been exactly that since I started, but this was a much more obvious out on my own experience, and the only thing to do was trust everyone who’s hands I found myself in. So I did. From the man whom I had never met who picked me up and drove me 40 km to the Thai village that I would stay in. To the family who’s house I inhabited for two nights, sleeping curled up next to the fire in their guest hut. To the entire community who fed me meal after meal as I traipsed around the village, entering new homes, joining in wedding festivities, and hiking through rice paddies up to spectacular waterfalls. As a single 23 year old woman I joined a whole town that were both linguistically and culturally entirely different from myself and I could not have felt more safe and protected.
Hitch Hiking Through Isaan:
6 hours of standing room only solo bus travel and I showed up in the wrong town. An hour and a half from the correct town where I was supposed to be meeting a friend. It was already night time and the prospect of pushing back my arrival, cutting our already abbreviated visit in half just wasn’t an option. So I walked, popping my head in every shop communicating in broken Thai where I desired to go. I was met with laughter, puzzled expressions, and a whole lot of “cannot.” I walked back to the bus station and gave my friend a call- the verdict, my arrival would be delayed a day. As I talked a woman approached, told me that her husband was on his way to Bun Khong Long and would take me. For the first half hour we sat in silence and I began to worry what I had just walked into, intent on making the mood more relaxed I put on some reggeton. We grooved and laughed all the way to Bun Khong Long where I was safely deposited right on time.
Homeless in Bangkok:
My bus was in an accident, an expected arrival in Bangkok was pushed back 7 hours, meaning that I missed my connecting bus to Chiang Mai. Alone and without sufficient funds I contemplated what to do, as 10 hours without shelter on Khao San road stretched ahead. I bought some mango and sticky rice and for 30 cents was given a place to shower off the grim from the day of bus travel. However, by 3am I was out of entertaining ideas and the scene was becoming progressively seedy. Tentatively I walked into a hostel ready to feel the inevitable judgment of being another grungy backpacker claiming broke and looking for a free place to sleep. However, instead of skepticism I was met with worried eyes of sympathy and the offer to sleep free of charge on a wonderfully soft sofa- just as long as I was out by 6am.
Knighted into a Harley Davidson Motorcycle Gang:
Eight o’ clock in the sleepy town of Isaan and the night was coming to an anti-climatic end. Looking up Melanie and I noticed the glow of what appeared to be a roof top bar, what? A bar? In middle of nowhere Thabo? Clearly we needed to investigate. Up three floors of dark stairs in a dusty abandoned construction sight, it got harder and harder to see where we were going the higher we climbed. As we approached the roof it became uncomfortably clear that we had just walked into someone’s house. However, upon arrival we were welcomed with cheers, were fed, and flashed the obligatory peace sign in countless photos. Turns out we had waltzed into a birthday celebration for one of the ‘Thabo Riders’ the local Harley Davison motorcycle club. Surprisingly, they embraced us, welcomed us into the club with t-shirts, offered us rides on their monstrous bikes, and made us promise that we would return.
Thank you Thailand for being full of such inherently good people. Thank you for helping me remember how to trust, and expect the best in all those that I meet instead of confronting strangers with skepticism. Thank you for letting me be a strong woman instead of one who is forced to live in fear. Thank you for providing me with a community without me having to ask.