Published: May 28th 2011May 27th 2011
During this backpacking adventure I seem to have stumbled onto a Girls Gone Wild set, when what I’d really prefer most days is a Girls Gone Mild sort of deal. It’s not that I don’t want to have a couple of drinks and have some fun; it’s just that now, at 33, most nights a couple literally means two. I’m currently attempting to figure out how to blend into the party-hard social scene without resorting to hiding my nonalcoholic beverages in beer bottles.
Last night I invited myself out with a couple of guys from England staying at my guesthouse (but did it in such a clever way that I’m pretty sure they thought it was their idea) and headed out for, well, I had no idea really. These two seem to be perpetually injured and sporting bottles of vodka. It was a brave move venturing out with these boys, but I’ve come to realize that I need to make as many friends as I can in order to make this trip truly enjoyable. And I’ve also learned that I’ve got to work with what I’ve got, and that was what was available.
So me and my two new
Notice my water bottle that I'm trying to hide beside me ;)
UK friends headed to another guesthouse to meet up with some other backpacker friends of theirs, where we hung out on the patio for a bit while having some drinks (me drinking about one for every five of theirs). We played drinking games involving animal noises and something referred to as Chicken Goggles and even played a game of telephone (you know- the one where you whisper something in someone’s ear and then laugh at how distorted it gets by the time it reaches the end of the circle?). A girl a of couple seats down from me used the word ‘like’ no less than 3 times in each and every one of her sentences. There was no danger of intelligent conversation happening any time soon.
Although I do have to admit that (even though I was the lone sober participant) it was fun and refreshing to turn my brain off for a while and just act silly. We laughed and behaved like children, as if we didn’t have a responsibility in the world. I’m sure this sort of thing is actually healthy, that it creates balance in our lives and reduces stress. I know in my mind that
Karen Long Neck Tribe
Our guide also shared that the copper necks were also meant at one point for protection from attacks from animals while their husbands were away.
we should always make time for play, but I doubt that many of us actually do. So I, like, put on my like Chicken Goggles, and like, had a really good time, like.
Despite the laughs, something about the experience still felt as if I’d taken a trip back through time. Most of these tourists were in their early twenties and I’d already developmentally been exactly where they were. Although it was fun laughing and acting ridiculous with this crowd for the night, I was pretty sure that I would need to find a way to tap into a slightly older demographic at least some of the time on this trip in order to keep my sanity. I’m pretty sure that Chicken Goggles is a small doses sort of activity for this backpacker.
One girl, twenty-fours years old, seemed to be trying to get some kind of support from me. She appeared distraught and emotionally a little beaten down after travelling for months in the shadow of her blond and flirty friend. She looked lost, unsure of herself and life, as people so often find themselves feeling in their early twenties. She seemed to be looking for guidance
Against my Better Judgement
I'm not sure it's actually even physically possible to get out of Thailand without riding an elephant at some point, so I'm going to cut myself some slack on this one (and I beg you to do the same :).
from this ‘elder’ (me) that she had encountered about what she could expect from the future.
She asked me what year (what age) was my favorite so far. Without skipping a beat I told her that it was this one. Not because I was traveling at the moment, but because generally each year gets better than the ones before it. I told her that although my twenties were fun, you couldn’t pay me to be twenty-four again. The look on her face screamed Why on earth would you be 33 when you could be 24? That’s just crazy talk! I tried to explain the confidence, the clarity, the stability and the freedom that comes with your thirties. I explained that when you get to your thirties you realize that you actually still are young, attractive and having fun (not old, ugly, and out of touch like you imagined). But you also maybe have money, a good job, and a beautiful house. I told her that your thirties are where it’s at, and she seemed legitimately relieved to know that life gets better.
The next day I enjoyed a day of touring in the neighboring province of Chiang Rai,
clear headed after responsibly (as thirty-something’s have learned to do) going to bed at a reasonable hour reasonably sober. I visited a tribe in the mountains where the women stretch their necks and cover them with copper coiled rings. I went on a bamboo raft ride down the river. I took a ride in an ox cart. And please try not to think less of me, but since it was part of the tour, I ignored my conscious and enjoyed an elephant show and ride.
I also met some more new friends, originally from Brazil, but living at the moment (when not traveling) in New Zealand. They also will be in Phuket at the same time as me for a of couple days (next week), so I might actually have some friends when I arrive there. One of my new friends even offered to show me around when I eventually got to New Zealand.
With all of the new friends that I’m making, I’m starting to get a taste of the heaviness in my heart that I will undoubtedly experience (and have already experienced) time and again on this trip, as I say hello and then goodbye to
amazing people. I hope that I can take the sadness that comes with walking away, for the last time, from all of the people that I meet. Sure, there will be some with whom emails and potentially even a future face-to-face encounter might be possible; however, after parting ways I suspect the overwhelming majority will exist only in my mind and in my heart. I imagine that, as always, I will have to focus on having gratitude for the time I shared with them and value the treasures that they brought into my life. And also remember that each ‘goodbye’ will soon be replaced with a new ‘hello’ from someone new and amazing.
There are more photos below