Life is always presenting us with new challenges, am I right? Looking back on the most challenging year of my life I confidentally say that laughter is the best medicine, and it’s FREE! Change your perspective, change your life! I am a current Life Coach who is in School full time to obtain my Masters in Psychology. My goal is just to spread little tips along my journey that have kept me in good spirits. So laugh it up everyone!
How Traveling to Thailand can Spiritually Awaken You and be GREAT for your Soul
It is said America is the land of the free and home of the brave,, and it is. However, in my travel to Thailand, my heart was made free by the experience. I felt more free and more brave with two weeks in Thailand than I have in my entire life. My experience was the most challenging, eye opening, spiritual and best trip I taken which is exactly what I hoped for. If you want travel somewhere that can spiritually awaken you and help you grow in life Thailand is a great place to book your next ticket. Here are several ways Thailand can life and move you.
- See the temples. I chose to bounce around Thailand with just a backpack while there and everywhere I went, from Bangkok even to the Krabi islands, there were ancient temples. Buddhism is prominent in Thailand and for someone who really is interested and feels connected to the Buddhism religion this was a great experience. The term “bodhi” means enlightenment which is what the Buddhist religion tends to base its structure around. It was a humbling experience to see these incredibly detailed and beautiful temples. To witness people from all over the world praying at these statues or bowing in respect really opened my heart and tugged at my soul. I haven’t been religious in my adult life – only spiritual – and the older I become the more urgency I feel to have my soul open and grow exponentially. To be around Thai culture, religion and temples, gave me an overwhelming feeling of peace. Not only was I witnessing beauty but I felt it as well. I never realized how many different “Buddhas” there were. I also learned it is disrespectful in their eyes to have a tattoo or your own statue of Buddha – noted. You also must cover your knees and shoulders. They are still in this day and age very particular about this. They even offer rental outfits. The temple visits weer a very eye-opening experience for me. It was about respect and I was in their country. And, even though it was extremely hot, I developed a sense of respect for them and felt the wisdom all around me. They have candles in different areas you can light and place in a holder and bow as well; I encourage you to experience this. I prayed for the health of my family and guidance in my journey through Thailand, and I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Also, some of these temples involve a crazy climbing stairs – which brings me right into the next category.
- Challenge yourself. If you can get past the fear of some of the things Thailand has to offer, you will be rewarded with some of the most spiritually awakening moments of your life. Thailand doesn’t have rules like America does, and the population are not worried about people suing you all the time. Most things just go and flow and it begins to feel extremely natural. You literally just start climbing up this mountain inside the jungle. They have installed different ropes to help you. You have to get out of your head and just focus on climbing up. I personally am pretty afraid of snakes so I had to stay mentally focused on the main goal and conquer my fear real fast if a snake were to pop out because one wrong move and you could fall and really hurt yourself or die. After a while I really started enjoying the climb, and the view at the top was unbelievable. I was blessed with not only an amazing site, but blessed with the feeling of freedom, bravery and joy. “Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” Like I said, it might be a bit of a challenge for you at first to but after you begin to step outside your comfort zone you adapt, and with adapting you become mentally and physically stronger.
- Volunteer with Elephants. I encourage you to go to Thailand and not ride the elephants. A lot of the elephants which are being ridden are tortured and have broken ears and sculls from being smacked or whipped. I suggest finding an elephant sanctuary where the elephants are treated well and you can volunteer to care for them. I have never experienced anything like this and I wish I would have had more time with these amazing creatures (Someday soon). You can feel them connecting with you, you can feel how brilliant they are and how emotional they are. To put yourself in their habitat and be with them as they are happy and free is an overwhelming feeling. I had to hold back tears much of the time because it was awe-inspiring to me. They are gentle giants. Still, there is such a form of respect you develop because they how huge they are and powerful. I’m not sure if you have ever watched the new movie, “Jungle Book”, but I watched it twice on the plane ride to Thailand and was interested to see how much respect the entire jungle had for these creatures. Being with them in their home made it all clear to me. You are among these creatures that could crush you at any instant; yet, they are strong, they are extremely smart, and they are kind. I guess a proper word to describe what I hope you would feel is “humbled.” We were able to help give them a bath and cover them with mud which helps the mosquitos stay away. Have you ever experienced moment that felt like it was moving so extremely fast, yet in slow motion at the same time? I feel like the best moments in life our those moments that bring you tears, whether it be happy tears, sad tears or tears from laughing. Either way you look at, those are the moments that are so powerful and they are helping you grow in one form or another. I kept thinking in my head “how blessed am I to experience this.” Gratitude at its finest, and the universe responds very well to gratitude.
- Go to a village and learn about their culture. Something I always said during the trip was “sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven.” Getting to your destination will not always be the easiest in Thailand. If you have the money and get car sick I recommend spending the extra five dollars and rent a private car. However, on our way to this particular village we pretty much road in the back of a truck over bumpy and winding roads, but you know what, every bit of it was worth it and nothing that an American Sprite with a straw can’t cure. Visiting a village, eating their food, wearing their village attire, learning about their culture and just observing the family hosting us, had me so mesmerized. This is where I made the decision that I have to incorporate travel into my career, and it will never be a question in my mind again. Watching these people who had never even dreamed of life with all the comforts we have in America, express such joy and gratitude for us as well as their family, had me so touched. They barely have anything to their name and they are so happy and full of life. These, in my mind, are so incredibly free. I loved observing them, and it made me really question my life in America. Even though they might be called the “deprived ones”, who really is? Yeah, maybe there big concern is a tiger in the village, but they find a way to make it work. They keep a pig out front tied up so if they hear squealing at night they know to prepare. They also sleep on the top floor of their hut and even though there are not walls something tells me they know what they are doing and how to handle it. In America we may not have these problems but if you look with perspective what we deal with could be much worse depending on who you are asking. These people don’t really think about corporate greed, future politicians, racism, celebration of victim-hood, the entitlement mentality, cell phone obsession, or even being brainwashed by the media. The love I saw between the father who was teaching us about Elephant medicine and his two little girls made my heart soar. So much love and happiness. Also, being in their village and inside their hut with the open air flowing through and very minimum radio activity made me feel like I could breathe, like really breathe. I think you will know exactly what I am talking about once you experience this. I fell in love with their way of life, and the kids, the kids stole my heart – and I am sure they will with you too.
- Bounce around. If you want to go on vacation and Thailand it can be a great place because they literally treat you like royalty, they honestly think “Americans” are rich, and to be honest with the exchange rate, we kind of are (money wise) when comparing the dollar to the baht. They are such kind people and there are many beautiful resorts that you can stay in, but I encourage you not to just do this. If you want to have a spiritual experience bounce around the country. Yes the beaches and islands are beautiful but I had amazing experiences in Bangkok, and in Chiang Mai as well. Go to the places that are not super touristy and immerse yourself in the culture. You will be surprised at what you find. You will learn very quickly about the way they travel, what to trust, what not to trust and things of this nature. I will write a couple tips at the bottom of this blog on things I learned while traveling over there. When I first got to Thailand I didn’t even know what a tuk tuk was and I was pretty scared to ride my first one especially going into that trip pretty naïve as to what I was getting into. By the end of the trip riding in a tuk tuk or the back of an open truck felt natural, and I preferred it. I even got to drive one. You tend to start off being a little fearful this way, and leave with such ease and with a comfortable feeling, also ccoming back way more knowledgeable then when you started. You will get to experience so many different people and ways of life – be open to it – try to communicate, learn, accept , grow! Charles Darwin once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”
- Try the different food. Thailand is known for its food, I am sure you have all heard this before. There are street vendors everywhere especially at night markets which I also encourage you to explore. I grew up in a home where we were raised as very plain eaters. I have slowly been able to challenge myself and try new things, but let me tell you Thailand is on a whole other level. You will probably get sick, I got sick twice and the first time I admit I freaked out a little bit, but it’s okay. Mind over matter. Some people think that you will get sick by eating the street vendors food, which could be true but, you are just as likely to get sick eating at a five star restaurant in Thailand. They do not have the same health code laws as America, in fact, in very fancy restaurants I have seen the Chef leave without even washing his hands. So don’t let that fear eliminate your choices of where you eat. Some of the best food I ate was from the street vendors, especially these things I called chicken balls. No, they weren’t actually chicken balls but they were a take on a chicken nugget and they were amazing! Your body just has to adjust to the food, and it ends up being totally worth it. Don’t miss out or be afraid to try things. Immerse yourself in the food choices. This is another way you are challenging yourself and in the end you never know, you might end up totally loving something that you never thought you would. It happened to me many times!
- Stay at least one night in Koh San Road. Okay, so a lot of people are going to tell you to stay away from Bangkok, or they will probably tell you to only stay max two nights and depending on how much time you have. But, I was pleasantly surprised on how much I loved Bang Kok and that is because the infamous Koh San Road. The reason I encourage this is because the street is full of hostels and people from all around the world. Me and one of my travel buddies flew into Bang Kok with just our backpacks and no reservations, all we knew was that we were suppose to head to Koh san Road. After the long flight, and taking our first Tuk Tuk we arrived exhausted, hungry and a little nervous. We stumbled upon this hostel called “The buddy Lodge” and I highly recommend it. There Is the sweetest British man that works there who I am so grateful for as I look back because he helped us so much with our first few nights in Thailand. I encourage you to stay on this road at least one night and talk to people, swap stories over a Chang beer and some Pad Thai. The street becomes more and more alive as the night goes on. The people we met and the things we did and saw on that road made me fall in love and just appreciate life and humanity in general. No matter where you are from you are accepted equally, and everyone genuinely seemed to want to have a good time and spread the love. Don’t forget to buy your two dollar T-shirt that says “I love Koh San Road”, trust me you will thank me later. In general, staying in hostels is a good idea, at least for a few nights out of your trip. I know you are most likely able to afford to stay in hotels which we did as well, but staying in hostels were some of my favorite times. Meeting other travelers and experiencing their stories gives you a whole different perspective on life and your trip and they are most likely able to give you great travel tips – and you never know what kind of friends you can make. Which moves me right onto my next suggestion…
- Treat yourself to a “fancy place” one night – or even two. I included a quote with one of my Instagram pictures when I was traveling through Thailand that said, “Travel can be brutal, it can break you down, chew you up and spit you out.. But if you can manage to keep truckin on you will be rewarded with moments like this.” It’s true, traveling like this isn’t always the most luxurious thing, in fact there were times where I have never felt so dirty and uncomfortable in my life, but that’s how life works right. It’s all about balance in my opinion and in order to experience how good the good can be really be we have to take a little of the bad. I encourage you to treat yourself one night to a fancy place. For example, me and one of my travel buddies experienced the worst bus ride ever when we decided to take a one night trip to Pataya form Bangkok. We were hungover, we were in the very back, and the trip took over four hours when we were told it would only be two hours. When we finally arrived, we decided just for one night to treat ourselves to their Marriot hotel. The pools were unbelievable, our room was remarkable and the staff went above and beyond for us. From where we had come from to where we were was a big difference and you couldn’t get the smile off of our faces. They even gave us our own private dinner and an amazing show. It honestly wasn’t even that expensive. In America for the kind of service and atmosphere we experience that should have easily been an 800 bill or so and we only ended up having to pay 200 each – and that was for the room, our bar tab, and our dinner tab. It was amazing to take a moment from roughing it and wear white robes and slippers. We were having such a good time and it honestly just made us so grateful and happy to have an amazing shower; I know that raised our vibration and energy level and amped us up for the next adventure.
- Experience the massage. Massage and spa services in Thailand are not only on almost every block but they are extremely cheap, I encourage you to take advantage of this. A lot of times the knots and tension we have in our body is caused from stress which I believe to be negative energy. It is so good to get all of that massaged out of your body. Rules are different there then America so if you don’t like certain body parts touched let them know in advance, I learned this the comical and hard way. Once I found the type of massage I liked I was able to fully relax and took that time to mediate while getting the massage. Maybe you will even fall asleep. Either way it’s great for the traveler’s body, which in return can be great for your soul. Take time to relax and enjoy this pleasure because I guarantee you, you won’t find a massage this good for that cheap in America.
10. Take some time to be by yourself and do yoga or meditate or even journal. One of the best ways I was spiritually awakened in Thailand is when I was able to sit for a moment by myself and take in the beauty. Sometimes I would get up a little earlier than the rest, or maybe just find a time to stay back and mediate or express gratitude to the universe for allowing me to take it in. Thailand, to me, is one of those places where the pictures do not lie. It looks like how it looks in pictures, and just to be able to see such things and feel the energy around there opened me up to a whole new level of gratitude. I guess a lot of times I started to get anxious about not wanting the time to end and not wanting to leave, and I really had to get that out of my head and sit in the moment and enjoy it and really take it all in. When you express gratitude to God or the universe it genuinely sets your vibration to a higher level, so take time to do that! Breathe in the love! Not to mention Thailand sits by the equator and as humans we take in energy by sunlight – so get energized up!
If you would like to see some real footage of Thailand I have a video that I made of my trip below.
I hope this gave you some insight or ideas as to how to get a little more spiritually awakened in Thailand. I wanted to leave you with a few travel tips and things I learned a long the way that I hope will make your trip a little easier. If you want to do what I did and go in blind and learn along the way, then don’t read the next portion. My wish to you is to have safe and enjoyable travels. Kup-khun-kha
- Some people will follow you trying to give you directions or transportation methods. These people want money. When we first got off the tram I literally had a lady following me around asking me where I was from and trying to explain to me how to get to Koh-San road. She even took my arm and started writing on it. I thought she was just being polite and kept letting her talk and follow me until my friend handed her a couple dollars and she finally left . Apparently, my friend had read about that before, I had no idea.
- Keep smaller amounts of money on you always, especially when shopping. That’s why sometimes it’s good to exchange money at a bank so you can get smaller bills whereas the ATM only spits out big bills. There are two very important reasons for this. Like I said earlier a lot of people in Thailand think we as Americans or sometimes tourist’s in general, are rich and they will take advantage of this. I can’t tell you how many times I went to go buy something small and handed them a big bill for change and they would say that “they do not have change.” Also, whenever you are shopping you can negotiate. They of course will start off high, but put your negotiating skills on high alert. If you have small bills you can start walking away and show them the bill and say things like “I only have 200 bhat.” It worked almost every time given that I had change. You can also do this with cab drivers, there are so many out there and so many competing so you can have a set price you want to spend and then you tell them. They don’t really go off of a meter there its more about a set price to take you somewhere and some will take way less than others.
- One size does NOT fit all. I got a little dress happy when I was in Thailand a couple times. They have the most beautiful dresses for so cheap and the vendors will swear that one size will fit all and promise you. I bought a couple dresses and when I got back to my room I tried them on and the look on my friends face said it all. Luckily, I was able to go back and exchange them, although the vendor wasn’t too happy. Which brings me to my next tip.
- Trade! I only had a backpack when I was traveling and wasn’t expecting to like the clothes so much, so even though money wasn’t a problem with my haggling skills 😛 space unfortunately was. I started trading things I brought with me for new things. They also really love this. At one point I left my “travel purse” in my hostel because I opted to just buy a second backpack for 2 dollars and the cleaning lady found me to give it back. I told her she could have it and she was genuinely so excited and grateful it made me tear up. I swear I was so close to giving her everything I owned – haha.
- Do your own research when you are trying to go to a specific place or touristy area. As the British man at the Buddy Lodge taught us “People were trying to take us for a ride” out on the streets. For instance, we wanted to go explore a temple, and we wanted to go to a floating market one day. There are so many people approaching you on the streets usually these are cab drivers, tuk tuk drivers, tour guides, promoters excreta, its very hard competition. At first it overwhelmed me but don’t worry you get use to it. Anyway, a lot of times these people will lie or exaggerate the truth in order to get you to go where they are getting paid to take people or what not. I first learned this lesson on my second day in Thailand when a group of men outside our hostel, which were as friendly as could be, told us that the temple we wanted to go to didn’t open until 1. P.M. They insisted in taking us to a tiger temple and floating market first and then the temple. We were a bit confused due to the temples website it said it opened at 8 a.m. so before we agreed on a set price we went to ask our British friend and that’s when he let us know that they were basically full of it. “Girls the tiger temple has been closed for 3 years, and the temple opened at 8 am this morning.” So be polite, but be firm, these people are just trying to make a living but don’t let it be at your unfortunate expense.
- If you get car sick and claustrophobic or don’t feel very well just rent your own car. Did you know Thailand has Uber! It also has private taxi’s and cars for rent at a very cheap price. The most miserable parts of my Thailand trip revolved around taking a “shuttle” which is a van that they pack with as many people as possible. There was one time where literally we had about 25 people in one Van with air conditioning that usually isn’t even working properly. The drivers of these shuttles usually do what they want, for example they will stop randomly on the side of the road to use the restroom or even buy themselves a snack. They are on their own time, and in my experience when it came to these shuttle buses the trips took longer than they said they would. You can take your own taxi for not that much more. We literally took our own private taxi from Pattya back to Bang Kok which is 147 Kilometers which in no traffic takes about 2 hours for only 15 dollars each. I can’t even imagine what a 2 hour cab ride in the states would run you. The 15 dollars was so worth the leg room and the air conditioning.
- Try and steer away from touristy packages, do your research and explore on your own as well as check the reviews of EVERYTHING before you book it. In my experience the tours were not what we were promised. In fact we went on a specific tour in Railay beach where we were promised to see 5 different islands and do a bunch of unbelievable snorkeling as well as an amazing dinner and fire show. Yeah, no, that wasn’t the case. Once again they packed so many people on this big boat, we literally went and sat on the very front of the boat and sacrificed getting drenched with water , it was actually pretty fun, but we barely made it to 3 islands, the dinner wasn’t that great and we didn’t even have enough energy to go back out on the second part of the tour. Don’t let this detour you from taking adventures, just do your research. We opted for this tour because we were told it was better but we looked it over and for even less money you could take your own private long tail boat with your group instead of wasting so much time on this giant boat which was using the long tail boats to shuttle people back and forth. I am still glad we did it because we did get to experience some different parts of the Krabi Islands but I do not really like being on others people time, or waist time waiting for so many people to load and unload when really that time could have been used for more time to explore.
- The same goes for hotels and hostels. I know this is an issue everywhere, but just read reviews, before you book something. Sometimes we would get to a hotel without reading the reviews and be a little disappointed. This is an easy fix because there are so many beautiful places to stay, literally I just walked down the road from a place we didn’t want to stay at and found one of the coolest hostels everywhere where I paid 12 dollars to pretty much sleep in an amazing bungalow for the night.
- Easy tips for food poisoning. If you are in Thailand or South East Asia in general for a long period of time chances are you might get a little bit of a case of food poisoning. Some girls on the trip didn’t get it at all, others like me got it twice. There was one point where three of us had it at the same time and we figure out what it was and this is where you really have to pay attention to something you wouldn’t really think you need to….THE WATER….wait for it…bottles. Even though it is is a water bottle doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe to drink. Two things you need to watch out for. 1. Look to where the water is bottled. When we arrived to one of our destinations we were famished so we went directly to the hotel restaurant, 3 of us ordered water which they bring you bottles. The three of us who ordered water were the three that very quickly got very sick. Looking at the bottle my very wise friend noticed it was bottled in Thailand. I didn’t know at first if this was what made us sick so I kept drinking mine a little more, which caused me to be sick longer, and one of my friends chugged about two of those suckers and was definitely sick the longest. So, pay attention to where it is bottled. Also, when you buy a water bottle, even if it says it is bottled in America, check to make sure it is sealed properly. I have heard stories where the Thai water has been put in American water bottles. Just check if its sealed that’s all. I was out there for over two weeks and this only happened once and it was our fault for not checking the water bottle properly. Also, unless it’s a super bad case where you feel like you should go to the hospital …Don’t. I hear they just give you these pills that stop you up and that’s not what your body needs. I found the best thing to do is go to 7/11 (which don’t worry there is one literally on every corner) and buy some charcoal pills and an American sprite and drink it with a straw (they hand out straws for everything by the way.) Like I would say with any trip especially ones that require long plane rides, heat, and lots of activity, stay very hydrated. Although it may seem like a burden drink water all the time to keep yourself hydrated. I look back on my pictures and look so “puffy” because I know I wasn’t drinking nearly enough water and probably at times too many Chang beer’s.
- Motor bikes. Alright, so when I went to Thailand I had a couple buddies tell me not to ride the motorbikes because they had crashed them. There is this theory that some places purposely mess up the bike so you will have to pay for it. “Well I simply will refuse to pay” you say. Well my friend its not that easy, and the reason why is because they hold your passport while you have one rented. I certainly do not think this is the case at every place you can rent a motorbike from and in fact I encourage you to rent them if you want to cruise around the islands or what not. I for one do not trust myself to drive one of these even in America so I didn’t want to rent one but my friends I was with did , which is awesome because I got the good spot in the back. Just be smart when you are renting them, talk with them about the rules and consequences if you do crash the bike, also check out the bike, be knowledgeable before you rent it. My friends were lucky to rent some brand new bikes from a very nice family business. They trusted these people because they went with their gut which usually works out pretty well. However, one of the girls on our trip proved to not be super lucky and she flipped her bike into a ditch, she was unharmed and laughed about the situation. The bike seemed fine, but when we returned it they definitely noticed some scratches. Even though she played it smart and told them nothing happened they knew their brand-new bike had some brand new scratches and dings on it. After examining it she was told that she needed to pay 500 Baht which may sound like a lot but that’s equivalent to a little less then 15 dollars. Passport was handed back right when she paid the money, no problem at all.
Well that’s all I got for you now. I am sure the next time I travel to Thailand I will have some more tips and experiences. If you have any questions feel free to message me and if you have any tips or great experiences please share!