By Sayanki Chakraborty
Travelling is no more a luxury for me; it has become a necessity and one of the purposes of my life. I often travel to the hills, the forests and the seaside to admire the beauty of nature and satisfy my travel-thirsty soul.
Last year, I decided to travel alone for the first time. The destination I chose was Thailand.
The idea of a solo trip raised curious questions from some, shock from others, while many simply admired my courage. For me, the idea was to connect with myself, learn to walk alone and be content with my own company.
It was May, not a very good time to visit this part of the world, but it was less crowded and the weather was very pleasant all through my stay. Keeping safety issues in mind, I had pre-booked everything, from the hotel to airport transfers to sightseeing destinations. It’s actually fun to plan for your trip plus it saves you from any unpleasant surprises later.
I visited Phuket first. The flight reached in the morning and after checking in the hotel, the first thing I did was to have Thai food. I am a foodie and Thai cusine is my favourite! So I ordered a dish of Pad Thai (noodles with seafood) and finished off with a significant scoop of coconut ice cream (another Thai speciality).
After satisfying my taste buds, it was time to pamper my body, so I headed straight towards a Thai spa. My masseuse was extremely polite and friendly and helped me choose the most relaxing message. What followed for the next 60 minutes was pure heavenly bliss. Needless to say, I returned to my cozy bed and dozed off for a sound siesta.
In the evening, I went to see the Phuket Fantasea Show. Just the surroundings took my breath away: bright lights, colourful costumes, breathtaking sounds, so many people and activities, it was indeed a glamorous affair! And then it was time for the show.
What was performed on the stage was pure magic: it was a huge production, with about 1200 performers with all glitz and glory. There were dances, songs, romance, fights, animals, everything live on stage. I had never seen something so magnificent in my whole life.
The next morning, I witnessed something that will linger on in my memory forever. It was the Phi Phi islands, known to be a favourite destination for Bollywood as well as Hollywood filmmakers. (You would remember Hrithik Roshan-starrer Kaho Na Pyar Hai and Leonardo di Caprio-starrer The Beach scenes shot here.) With the view of the blue seas in front of me and the soft waves touching my feet, I couldn’t help but be thankful for being alive. It was such a picturesque view that I ended up taking thousands of selfies.
I had lunch arranged at the beach itself – some really good Thai food – and that was accompanied by a live song performance by a local musician. I reached my hotel in the evening and slept off as there was an early morning flight to Pattaya, which was my destination for the next three days.
Pattaya is a vivacious city, famous for its nightlife, but I was not adventurous enough to roam about in the city alone after dark. Instead, I roamed about in the day along the beaches, shopped from local markets, got Thai massages and had a foot spa done almost every single day!
I indulged in the local cuisine, travelled in local tuktuks, visited malls, ate ice creams at local roadside cafes, watched the city pass by, negotiated and bought lots of souvenirs from local shops like a true explorer. It was fun to be lost in the city among unknown roads, unknown people.
I visited Coral island and the Pattaya tower. I had my share of adventure in riding a speed boat and taking a ropeway from the Pattaya tower. I loved the elephant show in Nong Nooch village. From Pattaya, I travelled to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, known for its Buddha temples and for being a shopper’s paradise.
I loved the Golden Temple and the underwater museum, but the best for me was Safari World. The animal shows – especially the sea lion show, orangutan and dolphin shows – made the visit memorable for me.
Contrary to the opinions I got about safety in Thailand, I realised it is an ideal destination for solo travel; the place just lets you be. I must add, however, that your safety also depends on you being quick-witted and confident. As in any metropolis in the world, here too people walk up to talk to you and try to strike a conversation, even offering you drinks (yes that happened too, but doesn’t that just make this journey more interesting?). With experience, you learn to avoid such over-friendly humans and politely refuse and leave the situation.
All in all, Thailand is a lovely, vibrant destination. I interacted with the local people besides tourists from India, Europe and many other parts of the world during my stay and never felt lonely. And guess what? I’m raring to go again. Solo travel is addictive!
Photography: Sayanki Chakraborty and Pixabay. First published as part of ‘Globetrotter Diary’ in eShe’s May 2019 issue