Koh Tao, Thailand – October 16, 2017
Stormy winds blew into the harbor as the skies grew dark with plump blue rain clouds. We planned on having another epic adventure day, but for some reason I woke up feeling like I needed a relaxation day to myself. It’s funny because you’d think that being a solo traveler, you’d get some good alone time, but you are literally NEVER alone! In fact, it’s almost like you don’t actually get enough “alone time” while traveling by yourself. Someone is always in your room wanting to chat, fun things are going on all around you, being a YES man always feels better than being a NO man… but today, I finally put my foot down to stomp out my fomo and promised myself a mental-health/ME day. I took myself out to lunch at a beachside bar and chose exactly which table I wanted to sit in, no questions asked, no deliberating what other people were feeling like for food.
Traveling alone is really the best thing you can do for yourself and I really recommend it for every person! It sounds a little scary at first, but it’s really SO EASY! It forces you to be social, it allows you to make friends in every country (great for future travel plans!), it makes you take responsibility for your own actions and belongings. With a friend, you have an easy way out of making conversation with other travelers and people of the world. You don’t have to try so hard when traveling with someone else, but you also don’t allow yourself to freely open up as much and you don’t fully branch out when you have that fall-back. When traveling alone you have full rule over your time, money, itinerary, and it’s SO GOOD. You can literally do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whoever you want. It’s all in YOUR hands—SO empowering!
I lazed around on the padded lounges, drinking a piña colada smoothie as the wind rocked the boats buoyed off the beach. White tentacled lanterns danced like jellyfish against the dark clouds above. Boats returned to their moorings and restaurants pulled their outdoor seating and umbrellas inside, preparing for a storm. I stared quietly out into the tussled ocean while spines of the bushy beach pines flipped in the wind. Just me, my thoughts, the wind and the waves. Sometimes you just need a minute to relax, reflect, check in with your body and have a conversation with yourself. People say those that talk to themselves are crazy, but I say speaking with yourself is one of the most important things you can do.
I took a slow meandering walk through the downtown of Ko Tao, stopping in cute clothing stores and tiny jewelry shops. I’ve really become great at “window shopping” as I want to save as much money as possible for traveling rather than trinkets. Scuba schools and snorkeling shops lined all the streets, posting dozens of diving options for locals and tourists alike. Ko Tao is known for the best snorkeling in all of Thailand, and is also the cheapest place in the entire world to get your diver’s certificate. I love the ocean and snorkeling is certainly one of my favorite past-times from living in Hawaii, but $300 for a 4-day certification is out of my budget for the time being. I’ll have to make another trip out of it at some point in my life for sure! 🙂
I walked barefoot by myself along Sairee beach as the sun set. Bright blue boats on the water contrasted the pink papers flowers fluttering on shore and brown skinned babies played with each other out in the waves. I joined up with the squad again for dinner at a romantic little place near our hostel. I ordered an amazing papaya salad with grated green papaya, perfectly ripened red tomatoes, charred toasted peanuts, freshly crushed cloves of garlic, crunchy asian beans, mottled red and green hot chili peppers, soaked in loads of lime juice, vinegar and sweet soy. This is seriously a recipe I’m bringing home with me as I swear I could eat it every day! Soft lanterns floated up in the trees, empty swing sets rocked under the branches, yellow light lit the undersides of the flickering palm fronds from below and coconut shells studded with starry drilled-designs climbed up the curvature of driftwood pillars at every table, adding to the ambiance with a candle afire inside.
Again, I parted ways with the pals for a walk by myself down the dark stretch of beach in front of our hostel. The boys were worried about me walking alone, but I’m honestly more scared of the stray dogs here than I am of people. Footsteps fading in the sand, I gazed out to the mingling of sky and sea on the horizon. Far out on the ocean, you could see the city lights of the mainland diffusely illuminating the underside of distant clouds. Waterfront honeymoon cabins went dark as I waded through the cool shallow waters, and waves turned and tumbled sand and seashells as they washed up on shore. Stars delicately twinkled from behind thin layers of clouds, and soft tropical music caught flight on gusts of wind from across the bay. I relaxed in a resort chair, staring up at the sky, closing my eyes to hear the delicate sounds of nature mixing with mankind around me. Another day in paradise.
Alena Horowitz | Miss Potato