Ko Lanta Solo Travel (Part 2): Yoga by the sea

Continuing from my previous post, I’m really in the mood of writing and documenting stuff on this trip! I just finished working on some freelance stuff, might as well continue typing it away while I’m at it.

Love that I eat tons of fruit here! I don’t eat healthy at all at home. This is a really nice change and I can feel it’s good for my body too!

Originally I planned to hit it hard for CrossFit today, but didn’t feel like it at all this morning. I wasn’t extremely sore, but didn’t feel 100% for some reason and was in the mood of something with a slower pace. No problem, yoga it was then!

It was so lovely. Yoga in an open air in a little Sala overlooking the sea was incredibly soothing. You focus on your breathing and posture while listening to birds chirping and gentle sea waves. I haven’t done yoga for at least 4 years and am really not a yoga person at all. Tried hot yoga at Absolute yoga years ago, and I felt it was too slow and not for me. This time, however, I felt pretty amazing. It was so private as there were only 3 of us, and the environment and everything just felt so right. We did Ashtanga and Vinyasa (I think). Oh dear, only a few rounds of Sun Salutation made me sweat like crazy! How come all these slow movements got you sweat like a cardio! Incredible.

I’m not flexible at all and I felt my body was quite tight. Our yoga teacher, Kru Thip, used to do CrossFit for 2 years and she understands me. She said lifting weight made your body really tight which isn’t good (mental note to research on this afterwards). Yoga is an entirely different movement and focus in your body. Found it really funny when she tried to re-arrange my body and said, stop squeezing your glutes, it’s not a hip thrust, use your inner thigh instead!

The rest of the day was pretty random and relaxing. I was walking around everywhere, even in the afternoon heat and I felt my back was burning. Long beach stretched over 3 km long (or maybe longer), so I kept walking along the beach, be in the afternoon or evening before sunset. I love the feeling of the waves touching my feet. Not sure how to describe it, but it’s definitely one of my favorite feelings.

When I stopped at a beach bar for an happy hour to watch a sunset, it just hit me that I was so, so wrong about this trip. I really should have come here for at least A WEEK! Everything about this trip is exactly what I need in a holiday. This is a real holiday, not the kind of holiday you want another holiday to recover from it. Ko Lanta trip did make every cell in my body relax and learn to enjoy simple, beautiful things in life. Can you ever get tired of watching sunset on the beach? I wonder. This alone is more than enough. I definitely should do this more often. Pick some island in Thailand and just go by myself. Save money enough to splurge and live comfortably on an island a bit, sounds great to me.

My bestie called to check on me and asked if I’m ok or already died from loneliness. HAHA. That was really sweet of her. She asked if I made any new friends. But you know what, I didn’t. Not at all. The thing is, I don’t seem to know how to strike a conversion with strangers!? How do people do this? Do people still talk to new people in a bar? It looks so, so easy for some people, but I’m at a lost at how to do it. It’s pretty funny because many people comment I’m a friendly person, and I do talk to people a lot as a huge part of my job. But when it comes to initiating conversion with random people, I just can’t. Not sure why, but I would really love to crack this “art”

Having said that, I still confirm that everyone on Ko Lanta is incredibly nice and friendly, like people in restaurants, bars, and cafes. I did have some small talk with them and most people have smiles on their faces the whole time. They greet their regulars (mostly westerners) with this sincere smile like good friends. I LOVE IT! It’s so nice. This would be one of the reasons for me to come back; nice and friendly people!

I can keep going on and on for every single topic running in my head right now as I have lots of time to reflect on every single thing in life at the moment. Will spare you and call this post an end here. I’m really not ready to go back to the city at all *Sad puppy face*

Ko Lanta Solo Travel (Part 1): An island loser(?)

“Seriously? You are going to an island alone? What a loser!”

Yes, I got teased by a friend after I said I’m going to Ko Lanta alone. I was debating whether or not to do it, simply because I was afraid I would get bored or…lonely perhaps? But the free domestic flight I received from SCB credit card privilege combined with the fact that I got free time to travel on weekdays (Read: Everything cheaper!) did push me to JUST DO IT. I wasted this SCB free flight privilege last year, let’s not repeat that mistake again this year!

Another friend also asked if this is my very first trip of traveling alone and not meeting any friends. Come to think of it, hell yes! It didn’t feel that way because I flew alone quite often, but never entirely alone the whole trip. Cheers to the first real solo travel!

So far, let me tell you, I LOVE THIS TRIP! Why didn’t I do this sooner? A mini beach/island getaway for me, myself and I. It’s so good for the mind and the soul! There’s something about an island that draws me in more and more (as I get older, HA!). It’s so chilled. Everything feels slower on the island. You get to walk by the beach and see the sunset, and that alone clears your mind like no others. No, I don’t really enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving or any water sports. Simple walk by the beach, sipping coconut juice or cocktail on the beach bar are more than enough to make me feel, wow, life is all good, what else could you want in life?

Where I stayed: Soontreeya Lanta Resort

Gotta admit, this part sucks when you travel alone as you have no one to split accommodation cost, and usually hotel takes up majority of your budget. Meh. And because I’m by myself and safety is #1 priority, I don’t plan to go too cheap as I do need comfort and a peace of mind. Following some blogger I randomly found via Google search on her girls getaway blog post, I chose Soontreeya Lanta Resort. I called hotel to book directly and got even more discount than Agoda and Booking. Total 3 nights cost only 4,500 THB (Around $140).

Soontreeya Lanta is a nice little resort with only 20 (or fewer) bungalows tucked in a tiny Soi, 2 mins walk from the main road, at the end of Long Beach which is the most popular beach on Ko Lanta. Nothing too fancy if you ask me, but it’s quite lovely for the price I paid. Comfy bed and fairly nice pillows, little pool to chill, Typical American breakfast like any other resorts in Thailand (lol), and 1 min walk to the beach with a beach bar. More than enough, isn’t it?

What I’ve done (On the first full day)

Lanta Muay Thai Gym

Like I said, I have no interest in joining those snorkeling tours. So…I went to train Muay Thai for the very first time (What lol). The most convenient thing is Lanta Muay Thai gym is across Soontreeya Lanta resort.

It was 1.5 hours of intense cardio and upper body strength training. Also a lot of kicking in between! Just a warm up is tiring enough if you don’t exercise regularly. Thankfully, all those HIIT training at Base the gym I go to saved my life. I ended up sweating like a pig after 10 mins of warm up though!

All Muay Thai trainers are very nice and friendly, and I’ve got a one on one session as I had never done this before. He had to teach me all basic movements. I found it lots of fun although I sucked, haha. I’m so bad at kicking! Couldn’t seem to get it right and didn’t have much power at all. Oh well, still fun!

And they gave me half price discount. I felt so lucky! 200 THB only for a one on one session, the price you can NEVER find anywhere in Bangkok! Just because I’m Thai and no Thai ever really came to train Muay Thai here, haha. Almost everyone I’ve seen today are westerners.

I gotta admit, I tried boxing (no kick!) years ago with my PT and didn’t like it at all. It felt too tiring, next day with soreness in my arms and shoulders. I did think boxing wasn’t for me. Today though, wow, so much different! I feel stronger, with more strength. I could punch and punch and didn’t feel burn out that much. Finally all those bench press, dumbbell bench and upper body strength training paid off. And let me tell you, it’s the best feeling in the world that you can do things you couldn’t back then. Feeling strong is so amazing, and I would keep raving about it to anyone who wants to be stronger too!

Another Thai lady who came with her Swedish husband warned me I would pass out today and feel so sore afterwards. Guess what, I didn’t feel that sore at all! And think I will be ok tomorrow. Yay strength training. Got bruises all over my knees from all the kicking today though. Pretty nasty here, ugh.

Infinity Spa at Crown Lanta (Best one ever!)

My friend stayed at Crown Lanta last time she was here and raved how amazing the hotel was. So I decided to try their Infinity Spa. It was the best decision ever as everything was so perfect. I went it all in and picked a 2 hour spa package; body scrub and aroma massage. Once again, the original price was around 3,000 THB but the lady was so sweet and gave me lots of discount and I ended up paying less than 2,000 THB. Just because I’m Thai, and she said there are hardly any Thais here. Say whaaat?

The massage was too good to be true. Everything the massage lady did felt just right. I love her technique so much. Also her service is top-notched. It wasn’t like 5 star hotel formality kind of nice service you find in Bangkok, it was more sincere, more down to earth, but you feel like she truly cares about you. Afterwards I was served fresh fruit and ginger tea while taking my time absorbing the view right here.

Fantastic. At that moment I truly felt my life couldn’t get any better than this.

Apart from that it was all about chilling, eating, iced coffee, reading, evening walk on the beach. All in all a simple but really good day.

Ko Lanta beach surprised me though. I did think the water would be more crystal clear and the sand would be white. It wasn’t the case and less pretty than I had thought. But maybe it’s because I’m on the most popular beach, and it could be more beautiful way down south of the island. Ko Lanta is pretty big. Most people are really nice and friendly, way friendlier than Bangkokians for sure (Ha!). And somehow they are very welcomed when they know I’m Thai. I got asked if I’m really Thai by a Muay Thai trainer *chuckles* It’s so western-oriented here. But the reason I picked Ko Lanta is because it’s not a party island, more like a quiet and relaxing island which is what I was looking for. Overall it’s a lot of couples, families, or even girls getaway. But somehow I don’t feel lonely at all, which is a good thing.

Will get up early tomorrow to either do CrossFit (never done, looks too intense and I’m a chicken, haha) or yoga by the beach (haven’t done yoga for years). Still undecided. I’m glow with “Lovin’ life” mood right now, with very minimum makeup on my greasy, oily face. So glad I decided to come here by myself!

A trip down the memory lane: Nagoya

I just wanted to write this quickly to get it off my chest before I get hit by a pile of work and life in general tomorrow. Just landed this afternoon after a 7 day trip to Tokyo and Nagoya.

It’s been a…weird trip, with mixed feelings. Quite difficult to describe but I will try my best to explain. First of all, it IS really nice to go back to Japan again (of course!) and I don’t think that will ever change. It’s even more special this time because I went back to Nagoya where I studied in 2010-2011 and haven’t been back since I left! So here I am, 8 years later!

A friend told me that “Nagoya will always be our second home” and I agree. Just walking around Sakae, Osu in Nagoya really brought back memories. We went to our “regulars” like old Sushi conveyor belt place we used to go a lot in uni. Actually it was my intention to go back to these old places! I even went to Nagoya uni with friends, to international student center where I spent majority of my time when I was there. It was so nostalgic you have no idea. Actually, just walking on the street, or ANYTHING in Nagoya brought back a lot of memories.

Of course, it was also very nice to catch up with old friends again. My Japanese definitely sucks now which is a shame (oh well) but I somehow managed to have conversation with them.

Another really amazing thing is, my friend asked his friend (who is away) to let me stay at her apartment for free! I didn’t even know her before, but she wrote a cute little welcome card, prepared towels and slippers and said I am welcome to eat and use anything. I felt so, so thankful! This is from a stranger I haven’t even met. It really reminded me how lucky I am to have met many kind people, especially during my year abroad. So many people really have helped me in so many different ways, and it was really touching.

I also went to Gero Onsen in Gifu with my friend on weekend. Let me tell you, Onsen in winter is the best thing ever! I particularly love the outdoor bath when it’s as cold as single digit outside, but you are dipped in hot water. It was really an amazing sensation. I’ve been to Onsen before but never in winter. Now I know how amazing it IS!

So, what made me feel that this trip has been…weird?

So, half of the trip I was alone, but the other half I was seeing friends. Most of the time in Tokyo I was by myself, walking a lot to so many different places. One day I was walking almost 20 km, which was absolutely crazy!

And maybe because it’s Japan, because I am quite familiar with the place, it didn’t feel that exciting to walk around by yourself. I didn’t really have many plans or particular places I needed to go to begin with. In fact, I felt almost like I lived there, just like old times. Most of the time I felt kind of…flat, like this could be my every day routine, just like before. Does this make sense?

It’s great to visit old places and talk to old friends in Nagoya, but you can’t recreate those amazing memories we once shared. It will never be the same, and we all have gone off to different paths. It’s good enough we keep in touch and get to see each other in different cities around the world, and I think that’s really cool. But somehow… it could feel kind of…bittersweet, in a way.

Hmm, emotional much? Nothing will ever make me get as emotional as that year in Nagoya, that’s for sure.

So, I’m still not sure if I do enjoy traveling alone. Or I do need to go to new places if I travel alone? I remembered I had quite a good time being alone in Amsterdam and Rotterdam because everything was so new. But Japan felt like a…comfort. It’s totally different feeling. Or maybe I would prefer to have some company? It felt a bit lonely in Tokyo this time.

Although I’m not sure where to travel to or what to do in Japan, I am quite certain this trip wouldn’t be my last.

Until next time!

Short trip to Northern Italy

This Italy trip came out of the blue, deciding only a month before the trip happened. Usually I know and plan things for months before going somewhere a bit far like Europe. But the main reason this one happened so quickly was because of the boredom and frustration toward my life in the past 2 months and I did feel like I needed an “escape”

(Funny how by the time we went on the trip, the frustration was gone. A few weeks before was a bit hectic, and then everything finally fell into places. Life is funny that way, huh?).

Initially, I wanted to go alone and the first destination that came to my mind was Croatia. But somehow, in the end, I decided to ask my mom if she wanted to come along on a trip somewhere. She hasn’t traveled out of the country for a while and she did have a rough year last year. I thought it would be nice to get her out to travel and freshen things up for her for a bit. It was a compromise for me, because I disliked traveling in a tour group, but for some reason I sort of feel like I should do it for her.

We tried to pick several countries from around the world, from Korea, Japan, Russia and many more. In the end this Northern Italy trip caught my attention, even though I’ve already been to Italy twice. I’ve wanted to go to Cinque Terre for years now. And I’ve never been to Milan either. My previous two visits were mainly focused on major tourist destinations like Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa.

I loved it. Manarola in Cinque Terre was as beautiful as I imagined it would be. I also loved Dolomites mountain and Italian alps area. It was so, so beautiful and the air felt so refreshing. I felt like I could properly breathe and realized how shitty Bangkok air really is. Was a surprise for me that they speak German and all the signs are in German and Italian in South Tyrol, Italy.

Photos can’t really captivate how beautiful the Alps is in reality.

I’ve also wanted to see Duomo in Milan for so long and finally I’m here. What a beauty.

Europe in summer is so lovely. I almost forgot how lovely those long summer nights are. June is such a good month to travel there as it’s not too hot yet and not really the peak season. Could be a lot more challenging to navigate in July.

My only complaint was the trip was way too short, only one week. You need at least 10 days in Europe. But then again I used up all of my vacation leave on this trip and this is all I had. Not exactly worth the 11 hour flight. But thank god we flew direct from Bangkok to Milan this time. Once we flew with Emirates and had to transit in Abu Dhabi before going to Barcelona, and I was a complete wreck. Really noticed a big difference and it was much, much better with direct flight. I did fly direct to Amsterdam with KLM last year too, and it wasn’t as exhausting as it would be when you had to transit in Middle East.

It’s probably weird to say this, but I feel like it’s a…comfort going to Europe since I’ve been traveling there quite a few times now. Each country is different of course, but there are some shared similarities that I am quite used to. Nothing surprised me as much as it was before, and it’s always nice to be back. I think I’ve been to most countries in Western Europe now, time to explore more of the Eastern part!

I think I will keep going back and exploring some different parts of Europe; some cities I haven’t been to. I just love the ability to walk around without sweating. I love how, comparatively, things are more organized than the chaotic Bangkok. I love that nippy feelings in the air, something you never get when living in a tropical country. I love the feeling of holding a hot coffee in my hand on cold mornings. I love how different summer feels when you are on the different side of the world. I love how it’s a “dry” summer and not humid. I love how the sun doesn’t set until 9 PM.

If I traveled by myself I would pop in to the museums, walk around, find something nice to eat and drink, observe the locals, explore, and just walk, walk, walk anywhere, and that simply made me happy. In a city you are unfamiliar with, you feel so small, you see everything with fresh eyes, you notice so many little things you don’t normally do in your own city, and it feels nice to get that perspective. Bangkok bores me at times and once in a while I feel like I need to get out for something new, something different.

Hopefully the post vacation blues don’t hit me so bad this time. I have something exciting and scary to look forward to next month. This was a nice little break to prepare myself for what’s to come. I’m so nervous but do hope for the best. Fingers crossed for myself!

Chiang Mai, you got a hold on me

It’s such a big deal for someone who hasn’t been to Chiang Mai for about 15 years or maybe longer, to finally go visit Chiang Mai at last! I know it sounds ridiculous, considered this is probably one of the places everyone visits regularly, and most likely one of the places tourists go when they first visit Thailand.

I didn’t expect much from this trip in the beginning. After all, it’s a domestic trip, how exciting could this be? We just booked the tickets 2 weeks prior and we hadn’t really planned anything much for this short 4 day trip. I sort of had some places and ideas in mind. In fact, it kind of hit me the night before we left that, shit, let’s figure out somewhere to go after we land in Chiang Mai at 8AM tomorrow!

But the trip turned out to be way beyond my expectation. I totally fell in love with Chiang Mai! After Amsterdam, this is the second place I thought could be a great place to live. I’ve never thought I could live elsewhere in Thailand apart from Bangkok my hometown, so this trip challenged my perception on that, surprisingly enough.

No cafe hopping

Though we didn’t plan much, my boyfriend and I agreed on one thing that, nope, not gonna do cafe hopping like so many Bangkok people do and post on social media, because why would you go to Chiang Mai to do such thing when you could just go to Thonglor instead!? Don’t get the trend much, honestly.

Nature

So this trip was a mixture of nature and city. We went up to famous touristy spots like Doi Suthep and Doi Inthanon for some fresh air. It felt totally amazing to feel the cool breeze of 15C in April, which is the middle of Thai summer, on top of Doi Inthanon, 2,565M above the sea level.

One of the things I love the most is our lovely accommodation called Vayahouse on the mountaintop with panoramic views of mountains near Mon Cham. It was very simple, we literally stayed in a tiny wooden box. 2,090THB per night was quite expensive for the room we got, but I suppose you pay for the breathtaking view in front of your own tiny balcony.

Opening the door, stepping out into the warmth of the sun, breathing fresh air of 15C morning weather deeply, with some jazz music in the background felt surreal. I sat there for a while, just taking it all in. And wonder, what else could you possibly want in life? Why complicates it so much?

City

Besides nature, we did a bit of templing in the city and a lot of Kao Soi eating! I totally fell in love with Kao Soi and couldn’t get enough of it that we had it almost everyday! One of the best ones we had was simply the local one with no name, only 35THB Kao Soi with chicken that our local friend kindly gave us recommendation. The ones on website and social media reviews can’t beat it.

Our colleague who is from Chiang Mai also came home during this period and showed us around a bit. First we went to see him in Chiang Mai university, what a lovely campus! We even spontaneously drove to Lampoon afterwards. I didn’t know before it was this close to each other. Did some local night market, ate at a northern restaurant and some local dishes, and we got some food recommendations like really amazing burger place (at 190 THB! Way too cheap) from our Chiang Mai colleagues, so all in all we were in a good hand.

Like I said before, traveling with locals is the best way to get to know the city.

Our boutique hotel in the city on Nimman also was pretty cute. I randomly found it on booking and booked it myself. The building is like an old house, with a nice touch of vintage decor. Really love it.

Why I love Chiang Mai

I feel like the city is a perfect combination of city and nature. Chiang Mai has city life which is what I do need, but mountain/nature is only an hour away. There is NO traffic. In city center, it could get a bit crowded during peak hours, but this is nothing compared to Bangkok. We can reach anywhere within 20-30 minute drive, and that feels pretty amazing.

The weather was perfect when I was there. Our local friends said we were so lucky because this is very rare for April. Usually it can get uncomfortably hot. I was worried about the poisonous smog, but it was raining on and off the whole time we were in Chiang Mai, which made the weather much cooler. It got hot during the day, but cooled down to 24C or so at night.

So I didn’t know if I had experienced Chiang Mai with smog, would I had disliked the place more? We were too lucky, just like when I got to experience sunny Amsterdam in October.

Some thoughts

The pace feels much slower than Bangkok here, but not too slow like some rural places. Overall I feel like the quality of life here is way better. Bangkok is getting more and more crowded by days, with zero solution to solve traffic problem. It gets tiring over time when you have to commute every day.

Our 23 year old colleague who is quite proud of Chiang Mai, his hometown, said

“The more you get older, I think you need to be closer to nature. It helps makes you want fewer things in life and just focus on what really matters.”

It still made me think until this day.

And it naturally made me question, What is the meaning of “Enough is enough”? How much do you have, in terms of money and materialistic things, is considered enough? What exactly are we struggling for in big city life? What are we trying to achieve here and for what? Why can’t we be satisfied with what we have?

We asked him about house prices and some businesses in Chiang Mai. The prices shocked us as it’s way cheaper than Bangkok. Obviously, pay is much lower here as well.

Post-vacation blues (No surprise!)

Not too bad this time, although I felt a bit…deflated on Monday morning, which was to be expected first day back at work after holiday. It’s a pattern that I can easily predict now, that this feeling will hit me.

Remember that enthusiasm I had after Taiwan trip in January? I can say it’s pretty much gone now and am entering a bit of dark place at the moment, for a number of reasons. A lot of things on my mind since end of February, and they are still here.

So let’s see what quarter 2 of 2018 will bring. The first 3 months had been rather interesting, both good and bad. I hope this next quarter will be a new change, for once. Need to retrieve that motivation and positive energy back.

Love you Chiang Mai. Gave me more than I had expected, and even made me question life in general, something I didn’t expect from a domestic trip. Always good to get a reality check via traveling from time to time. The ability to step back and examine life is crucial, if you ask me.

Work, Travel, and a bit of reflection

Two weeks into 2018 already. Time flies when you’re busy I suppose! Today was the first day this year I felt like I have some time to relax and take care of myself. By that definition, it’s going to the gym and having lunch and a good cup of coffee in one of my go-to cafes by myself, which is pretty simple, boring stuff. Having some me time is absolutely necessary!

Woke up today at 9AM and felt like I could breathe a little easier, with no real agenda of what I need to do or where I need to be. It’s a GREAT feeling after a hectic start of 2018.

Work

First week at work after a week holiday in Taiwan was a little crazy. I predicted it was going to be quite busy, but still felt a bit overwhelmed when it happened; all those internal meetings, proposals prep, and kick-off meetings with clients as we got more new projects. Starting from this month, I lead a new project about Line content and sticker strategy for F&B client, which is new and exciting at the same time! More Facebook ads to do from client in beauty industry, which is a new industry for me to do ads and content. This project we’ll have full control of designing creatives as well as copywriting and ads optimization, but under client’s final approval, of course! And I still have ongoing ecommerce/marketplace project in fashion industry to take care of.

At the moment I feel like it’s such a great balance, I get to do all kinds of different stuff in online marketing and ecommerce. Will need to focus more on content strategy this year, as well as perhaps some technical Facebook ads-related stuff I plan to look into further for some side-projects. Let’s see how it goes.

Somehow I feel quite excited for these new projects, which is a good thing. To me, routines work get boring quickly. I think we all need something new to do to constantly challenge yourself. January also marked TWO full years at work. Being somewhere two years for work is probably a bit alarming for millennials who keep switching jobs every single year, or even every other month!

Travel

Taiwan feels so far away now, even though I was just back last week. Crazy to look back! I’ve said it before how I don’t think Taiwan is that…special. The country failed to charm me for some reason, even though I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their bubble milk tea so much. I’m pretty sure I was whining in my head a lot when I was there, like why did I pick this country to come travel for a week? This is too long, and so on. But you know what, in the end I am glad I did. It was great getting to see an old friend from Japan again and his family gave me such a warm welcome, letting me stay in their house the whole time and taking care of me so well. For that, I feel really grateful. From time to time I feel incredibly lucky getting to meet really nice people from all around the world. It’s one of the experiences I will forever cherish.

Even though I was away for only a week, coming back the first day I felt a bit…disoriented. It was a bit like a shock to the system. Yesterday my life was in Taipei catching trains walking everywhere in rainy 16 degrees, today I was back in Bangkok, to same old stuff and routine, and it felt slightly weird. It’s so funny considered you’ve been gone for only one week, and it’s only just a short holiday. I would never expect such disorientation to happen after only just one week. However, it wasn’t the first time it happened to me. When you go somewhere further, this disoriented feelings get even stronger. It was almost unbearable when I was back from Netherlands.

Just like my past two trips, I felt somewhat more connected to the country I visited, than when I travel somewhere with Thai friends leaving Bangkok together. When I went to Spain and Portugal in 2016, it was Europe just like in Netherlands and Belgium, totally different atmosphere from Thailand, but I went with my family, so I didn’t feel like I was involved in those countries as much. I actually wish to go back and explore Spain by myself again some day. Going with my family means I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do, to be honest.

Somehow, flying alone and exploring the place alone with support from your friends in the country you visit really is the best thing. You feel like you are out of your comfort zone, even just for a really short period of time. You are fully exposed to entirely new things in that country. You hang out in places locals go, eat at local restaurants you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise as a tourist.

When you go travel with your friends, I feel like you have someone to lean on during the trip, you still speak the same language with your friends, you plan trip like how tourists do, and of course it is very fun and all that you get to spend a quality of time with your friends while exploring new cities together, but it’s not going to push you out of your comfort zone like when you travel alone (Sorry for a major run-on sentence, my Faculty of arts professor would have killed me alive, haha). In this Taiwan trip, I had to solve problems quickly by myself when I realized I forgot my backpack on the train from city to the airport, 1.5 hours before I boarded on a plane back home. I thought I was SCREWED and wouldn’t get it back but I did, thanks to airline, airport, and MRT train people in Taiwan! Felt incredibly lucky in the end.

Perhaps I missed that feeling of living abroad just like my Japan year; the feeling that you are a nobody, you feel so little in a new place when everything around you feels brand new.

Then again, I don’t know if being completely alone the whole trip as a real tourist in a new country would give me a sense of connection. Somehow it’s not so much about all the landmarks and checkpoints anymore these days when I travel. But it really is about little experiences and especially people along the way that make it really worthwhile.

Phew, it felt good to properly sit down and write something! I was seriously considering writing about 2017 my year in review, and I did write it, but decided to leave it unpublished in the end. So many people on Facebook wrote their year in review this year, a lot more than any other years. I wonder why!

Mini home stay in Netherlands & Major post-holiday blues


Hi Bangkok, I’m back, from a 10 day trip in Netherlands and Belgium, with a lost soul. Or major post holiday blues. I am not sure.

To me, this trip wasn’t only just “traveling” Otherwise I wouldn’t have felt this down. I was staying with a local, saw glimpses of their lives, and had great connection and conversation. It was almost like a “Mini home stay” in Amsterdam as I used Amsterdam as a base, and traveled to other cities like Utrecht, Rotterdam, and…Texel island! Texel was very spontaneous, who would have thought you could go to an island in October? But when it hit 20 degrees in October, you just knew it’s a perfect opportunity to do so.


Actually the whole Netherlands-Belgium trip has been rather spontaneous. I’ve made some plans of places I wanted to check out, but ended up not following many of them and invented some new plans as I went along. For Belgium, I hardly planned anything at all. But everything worked out perfectly. I had a really good time in the end.

I’ve been told from everyone how lucky I was the whole time I was in Amsterdam as the weather was too good to be true! We got some Indian summer situation with sunshine and everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better weather. It only rained a couple days before I came back. They said it was the only week they had nice weather in October as Dutch weather can get really unpredictable with lots of rains and wind.


The whole time I was there, I got taken care of very well, while having some time exploring on my own. It was like I had a friend to support me and point me to places and things I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise as a tourist. To me, this has proven to be the best way to “travel” Having known locals there is THE BEST way to experience a city. You no longer feel like a stranger getting from landmark A to landmark B with zero emotional attachment or back stories. I didn’t move around from hotels to hotels, instead I was pointed out some minor but interesting details about people’s lives and places, which in turn made me feel quite “connected” to the city. It left me feeling at home and at peace, like I could probably live in Amsterdam. Crazy, isn’t it?

Maybe that explained why post holiday blues (Or is it really?) hit me this hard this time.

Here are some bits and pieces, real feelings that I didn’t ‘gram. There are always stories to tell behind happy photos.


Stressed out 

When I was left alone the first day, I felt extremely stressed about directions! I could literally feel tight knots in my head, extreme frustration toward myself, that for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where to turn. I was left standing in the same place, because I kept going in the wrong direction, again and again.

I was particularly stressed since I booked a slot at Anne Frank House at 3PM on Monday 16 Oct. It was the only fixed plan I had for this trip, so I had to somehow get myself there in Jordaan, which I eventually did manage, after calming myself with a cup of Latte at Coffee and Coconuts in De Pijp. At the end of the day, I told myself to calm down and CHILL. I’m here on vacation after all, there is absolutely NO need to feel stressed. It’s ridiculous. 

After that, I was fine! I started getting the hang of Google Maps and found the trick that I had to turn the map exactly how I stand there in real life, so I wouldn’t get lost (I’m not joking, that’s how desperate I am). Also, I owed A LOT to Citymapper app. It IS the best app ever for all public transportation connection. I could navigate through trains and trams with no problem at all!

I’m glad that now I have gained a little more confidence traveling on my own. This fear of directions had always pulled me back. It was quite an exhausting experience, though. A lot of stimulation; sight, sound, and…everything. This trip I walked on average 15 km/day (Over 20,000 steps/day), which was pretty insane. I’m still not sure if I would enjoy a long trip for over a week, completely alone, having to figure out every single step of the journey without any help though.

Major post holiday blues/Wake up call?

Before boarding the plane, I felt like there was nothing to look forward to going back at home, which was a bit alarming. As soon as I landed, I felt extremely sad and frustrated and even hated my hometown. I had this feeling years ago after I was back from a year of living in Japan. Then I somehow coped with it and managed to get rid of hating-my-hometown feeling. But it is back.

I felt jealous of quality of life people have over there in Netherlands. I could walk and tram anywhere in Amsterdam. People bike, although I gotta admit it looks a bit insane to figure out bike traffic there! At least there was no traffic. And people seem to have a better work-life balance overall.

People speak impressive English in Amsterdam. I was told that the city is voted one of the best places to live as an expat. Dutch in service industry are surprisingly friendly and rather helpful, which was unexpected. The city is quite small, filled with canals and narrow streets. If I have to explain Amsterdam in one word, it has to be…cozy. It is pretty, but I don’t think it’s the most stunning place on earth. However, I could somehow picture myself living there. I’ve been to several cities, but never felt this way with any I’ve visited before. Strange, isn’t it?

This sad feeling also made me question, how can I be this unhappy with my life here? Before this trip, I did feel my life was quite meh and flat, only routines after routines. And now I’m back and it is getting worse. Is it a wake up call to change something? Or maybe it is just a major post holiday blues that will go away in no time? It probably is more common than I had imagined.

One of the best things from this trip is, I’ve got some positive energy, practical advice, and great insights from conversations in Amsterdam. Making a mental note to myself to take actions on those things now that I’m home. Gotta keep the energy going.

It’s funny how you’ve gained so much from only 10 days, by being exposed to and embracing all the differences. Moments like this are when I feel most alive. 


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