Should I have gotten my malaria shot?
Am I going to end up on Locked up Abroad?
Will I eat something I’m not supposed to and have my very own Bridesmaids moment in the streets of Bangkok?
Questions like this flooded my mind leading up to my first solo backpacking trip. After my long-term polyamorous relationship ended in December, I began a quest of self-discovery that led me to a three-week expedition through Thailand. Other than my flight and my first two nights in Bangkok, I had no itinerary for myself. I knew I wanted to explore the gay scene, the temples, the street food, but most importantly I wanted to stay open to new experiences.
My first few days in Bangkok were sensory overload. Motorcycles nudged the back of my legs through crowded alleyways. Street vendors clamored for passing foreigners with unrecognizable fried fish. Ladyboys would appear out of freaking nowhere and suddenly be glued to my arm. After three days I felt more or less adjusted to the time change and feverishly explored the city.
Lonely Planet, my Burmese hostel mate, and here-say were my guides through the enormous city. My central location was SiLom, Bangkok’s vibrant gayborhood. Although I was intrigued by the gay scene in Bangkok, I did not work up the courage to really immerse myself until I traveled South. After a week of sightseeing in Bangkok I booked a flight to Phuket – the Vegas of Thailand. It was a trash heap. The streets smelled of sewage and rotting fish. Restaurant owners assaulted you with menus as you actively looked at the menu provided on the sidewalk.
Sex workers and club owners paralleled videogame zombies in their attempt to take your money. The frenetic tourist-trap vibes were too much for me, so I continued on South to Ko Yao Yai.
FIRST SEX ABROAD
Ko Yao Yai is a small Muslim island that is largely off the radar of travelers and felt like the authentic experience I was looking for. An island with a population of 8,000 was not where I expected to have my first sex abroad… but I suppose that’s what happens you stay open to new experiences. I met a boy in his early twenties who waited on me at a cafe down the road from where I was staying. He was Thai and upon locking eyes our sexual chemistry was electric. We instantly vibed and exchanged Facebooks and planned to meet later that night. I arrived at his place while the sun was setting. He lived in a small house behind the resort he worked for. Initially
upon my arrival there was awkward energy. He was sitting on the porch and asked if I wanted to go to dinner or if I wanted to go to his room. I wanted to go to dinner, but the language barrier lead him to believe I had already eaten. He asked me to stand in the shadows of the treeline while he went inside. I wasn’t sure who I was hiding from or what he was doing, but the hoe inside me didn’t care. I assumed he did not want anyone from the resort to see him being unprofessional.
A few minutes later he emerged from a side door and had me quietly enter down a dimly lit hall into his bedroom. His bedroom was modest and hot as fuck. There was no air conditioner, only a fan beside the television set blowing hot air onto us. He closed the door and we laid beside each other to watch TV. Having been in a long-term relationship, I had little experience with this kind of encounter. I tried asking him questions about himself and realized quickly he knew less English than he had presented at the cafe. What he did know was “top or bottom?” What came next was the hottest sex of my life. I should clarify though, what I mean by that is it was so damn hot in that room my ass was a slip n’ slide. As visually appealing as it was to see his chest glisten in the pale moonlight I would have given anything for a bag of frozen peas.
Our sex was brief and secretive. Frequently throughout he told my loud ass to quiet down – I was soon to find out why. After he came there was a noise in the house. His uncle had come home. My Thai suiter once again gave me the signal to be quiet and left me in the room. I stood in the corner of his dark room quietly anticipating the worst. When he came back he told me I need to leave and snuck me outside. I expected him to give me a motorcycle ride back to my place. Instead, he quietly closed the door and I took a twenty minute walk of shame through the dark rainforest lit by fireflies.
My last week and a half was culture focused. I traveled North to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Pai. I befriended a Thai girl named First and ended up staying in her family’s village for two nights, partying at the local bars and meeting other travelers. Each day I happened to meet someone new who would become my travel partner for the hour or the evening.
I got massages and dinner with a couple from Seville, beers with a girl from South Africa who was traveling aimlessly, I went to the White Temple with a University student from South Korea.
I left Thailand feeling confident and accomplished. I went in without a plan and had experiences I could not have dreamed of because of the people I met along the way.
Tips for traveling solo? Buy a Lonely Planet guide book. Stay in hostels. Follow your instincts. Journal your experiences. Do not let fear hold you back from being your fiercest self.