Things at home for me were coming to an end. It took a huge personal decision for me to leave my home. More than anyone could ever imagine. Yet, I decided, for 3 months I would leave for SE Asia backpacking.
My uncle had talked about Asia for years to me, he had travelled there in the 90’s. I had a vivid picture it would be the same, laid back, exotically beautiful place with some backpackers but not many. I was on the eve of the happiest time of my life. I was excited and nervous at the same time. The eve of my flight was my birthday. 25! Twenty-fuckin’-Five. Quarter of a century, halfway to 50 and all that jazz. But my birthday wasn’t on my mind really. I mean, I wanted to be 24, but Bangkok, Asia and my first big step away from the world was on my mind. I think maybe 25 I was overdue of doing something like this organically, but I had a life to deal with back home. But this time I was ready, and felt overdue. I was itching to get out, shit scared of the great unknown, but dying to get out.
September 6th 2012, I had said my goodbyes during the day, and had a birthday meal that night. Not being packed(which still sums me up), at 2am after too many wines was quite the spectacle. Yet then having 2-3 hours sleep before being picked up by my mother, to then race to the train station for my journey to London to catch my flight, things began very rapidly. Little was I to know, the room, the house and the mess I left in an instant would be the last time. Yet at the time, my trip was 3 months. And I thought id be back. The train was pulling in at Darlington Station as I was walking to the Platform. My teary eyed mother waved goodbye and that was it, I was on my way to the Capital to get my flight. Everything happened so fast.
(Photo Below Centre: Family Dinner 6.9.12 – Myself, top right)
As I got in at Heathrow I was on time. I had 3 hours to wait until my 12pm, 12 hour flight with Thai Airways. So i wandered around Heathrow, ate some food and generally relaxed from the frantic wake up call and dash to London. As I checked in for my flight, my seat got changed to a more comfortable seat, which turned out to be a little blessing. I was sat next to two travellers. One of the way to Burma, one on the way to Australia. Mingling with these calmed my nerves got me prepared for my travels. After that, too much Red Wine, not enough sleep and too many hours squared eyed watching movies made me go to the bathroom feeling light headed. Everything was coming to a head. I was on the longest flight of my life, having a real flying fear, albeit Thai Airways were amazing. I was tired, wired and had seen too much blood whilst watching a movie. I was getting that feeling all backpackers get, I was out of my comfort zone. This however, was the feeling that still drives me on today.
(Photo Left: Selfie with backpack in washroom)
(Photo Right: Seating area of flight, first one on the plane!)
I got accustomed to the surroundings again, and was kind of disappointed about leaving the flight as it landed 12 hours later. My ears were ringing majorly as we descended. It soon came to my realisation that shit was about to get real. I was about to be on my own again. No cabin crew, no pretty girls and cool guys next to me, I was finding my own way. I remember walking through Bangkok airport saying my first ever ‘backpacking goodbyes’ to Hanna and Zac. Even though just for the flight, it was that first feeling of detachment from someone you have just met. This makes it harder because the mind ponders what could have been, whether may it been a great relationship or good experiences together, even though none were really feasible, our emotions get tricked into thinking so.
I walked through and got outside to the humid Thai heat. I was beat, not having no experience of a journey alone like this nor for this long, I hurried and went to get a taxi. I was a bit wary that the Taxi had no seatbelts. It was 6am and even though something small, it was unusual to me. Then, even though I gave the address for my hostel, Nappark, the taxi driver didn’t know where and had to stop a couple times asking locals where. I remember coming in on Khao San Road pre-7am.Locals cleaning the streets. I remember that image I had which I took with my shitty temperamental Blackberry I had. It’s the first image I remember being my first image of Asia and my journey.
(Photo right: Khao San Road early morning)
After some messing about, I made it to NapPark. Little did I know this place would become the Mecca for me. I was so tired I slept in my bed which hadn’t been cleaned by the previous occupant and I took a shower in the ladies washroom. 5 hours of sleep and I decided to message my social media friends who I had never met and hit the streets of Bangkok. I remember thinking how I just wanted to be home, my mind was too wishy washy and not ready for the experience. I knew it was because of my fatigue. I knew it would pass. I gave myself 2 weeks to be fully ok with the degree of separation from a small town in the North East of England.
Well I was wrong. It didn’t take a day.