I would also not attach the term exotic to most of the places I’ve traveled to. But that definitely changed my trip to Japan and Thailand a few months ago, most especially the latter. Between booking our trip and taking off for it were only three months. The anticipation began to quickly build from the moment three good friends and I got our plane tickets confirmed.
I’ll start with Japan, as we saw it first. It felt like another world to an extent. It’s so vastly different form California. At home, I wouldn’t ever see two guys dressed like Mario and Luigi zipping past me on the streets. I wouldn’t expect to go to a Robot Dinner Show (I’m not even going to attempt to describe it… think Disney’s Electrical Parade on speed). I wouldn’t expect to have ended up going to a friend’s home for traditional Japanese dinner full with huge plates of fresh sashimi. But overseas, it’s good to expect the unexpected, right?
Thailand was also incredible. What a spectacle of natural beauty it was! We spent time in Phuket, the Phi Phi Islands in the south, and Bangkok. What a contrast the weather here was to the freezing temperatures I just described from Chicago.
IT WAS HOT.
Very hot. All the time. Always. But it was Thailand, what else would I expect? A definite highlight came while we were in the Phuket area. We decided to hire a private boat drive for the day, and he took us from island to island. We’d head to one, get out and see if for an hour or so, hop back in when we were ready and have him drive us to the next island. The natural, lush beauty emanated from each island we saw. As the waves broke on the shore, we took in the hot son, downed our icy Chang beers, hiked through the islands’ cave like features, and dipped into the ocean. Pictures do these spots a fraction of justice, but only to an extent. Seeing the islands of Thailand with our own eyes really impressed upon us how insanely picturesque this part of the world really is. The exoticism was definitely unparalleled to any other place I’d been able to see.
Of course, we had to get classic Thai massages. They were so cheap; we would pay something equivalent to about 5 bucks for an hour massage by the beach. That’s something you can’t beat! And the food… oh the food! I had Pad Thai for days. However, word to the wise. When they ask you how spicy you want your dish, they aren’t playing around. A Thai “medium” is equivalent to an American “extra flaming nuclear ultra ridiculously spicy hot”, which I found out the hard way one night… and rediscovered the next day. But again, I was in Thailand, what should I have been expecting!
It felt so adventurous to be there. My friends and I kept musing on the fact that we were so incredibly far from home, literally on the other side of the world. Yet, we had the time of our lives.
Getting opportunities to travel has been awesome. Being spontaneous, going solo, and experiencing the exotic all allowed me to challenge myself in ways that I might not have ever imagined in years past. I see myself working secularly in an environment where being abroad while working is possible, and better yet, even encouraged. That flexibility opens up the planet so much more to me. This world is way too big and way too awesome to keep myself contained in California forever.
So my major message? Get out there. Be adventurous. Travel in ways you never expected to. I see little room for any regrets with such a spirit.