Thailand- 2 week update

Note: this was also posted on my personal Facebook

2 week update: Well actually, it’s been 1 month since I left North America. I had an incredible time in Taipei and Hong Kong with Justin. I feel happy, proud, and impressed with the progress he is making in his mandarin. I was also very happy to spend time with my extended family members whom I have not seen in over 5 years, and to be able to share those moments with Justin made it 10x better.

Onto my first 2 weeks solo in Thailand. I just finished the first leg of my journey today which was a farmstay called <a href="" target=“blank”>Homtel in rural north eastern Thailand in a village called “Wung Si Sote”. It is about a 4 hour trip east from Bangkok. I stayed here for 10 nights and, honestly, it was difficult not to stay longer. I feel as though I have gained a Thai home and a Thai family through this experience and for that, I am so grateful.

The farm stay itself was unlike anything I’ve ever done. Every morning, we got up early to start working at 6:30am. No complaints, however, as work finishes around 11am with a breakfast break in between. That, along with the company of a dozen new international friends, watching the sunrise everyday, home-cooked Thai meals, and the most loving family behind this operation made the experience one I will never forget. I have full intention to return someday and I encourage anyone considering this to go for it! (Message me if you want further details!)

My Homtel family for a part of my stay. This is the largest group they had seen so far!

My happiest moment so far? Riding at the back of a pick-up truck at night, from Pak Chong (the closest city) back to our village. As we got further away from the city, it was an incredible feeling to be coasting down the unlit roads with the wind in my hair, staring up at the widest panorama of night sky I’ve ever seen. Every turn presented a new perspective and it was so easy to get lost in the stars.

A close second would have to be when the family hosted a karaoke and pot luck for Valentine’s Day. Tosh, the father of the family, hosts a radio show for the village every day and invited listeners to the farm one Saturday afternoon. They had warned us it would be loud! Despite the obvious language barrier, all the attendees were so inviting for us volunteers to try their food. Our entertainment was karaoke and the Thai people are not shy at all when it comes to singing in public! Of course, as the foreigners, there was no way we would escape without performing a song or two. In the end, I, along with 3 other volunteers, sang Yesterday and Jail House Rock. The villagers loved it and took many photos of us. Glad to have furthered the crazy foreigner stereotype to the Thai villagers!

The locals doing karaoke!

Other highlights (Sorry! There are just too many to choose from!):

Eating delicious home-cooked versions of my favorite Thai dishes including Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and Tom Kha Gai!! Pictured above is the Pad Thai!

"Herding sheep, gaining too much confidence in doing so, and subsequently losing them 😬😂

Watching the Thai sunrise ..

.. and sunset every day

For the first time, having my portrait drawn by my new Italian friend, Fabricio!

Currently, I am in Ubon Ratchathani which is the easternmost province in Thailand. I rode on a train for 6 hours on a seat that didn’t recline. The night market here barely has any English on the menus which leads me to believe they don’t see many foreigners, despite this being a common resting stop for travelers heading into Laos. Nevertheless, I do find inexplicable comfort in being somewhere where no one knows my name. I am here for 2 nights before heading off to another small village to stay for one week. This one involves monkeys, but more on that in my next update!

Lastly, I don’t want to glamorize the solo travel life because it is not always rainbows and butterflies. I have encountered my share of setbacks already (including losing my only international-friendly debit card early on in Hong Kong and suffering a minor medical emergency forcing me to take an overnight trip back to Bangkok). At times I feel lonely or I find myself in uncomfortable situations that no one will bail me out of. I miss my friends, family, and boyfriend, and wish I could be a part of the fun times they are all having. But at the end of the day when I reflect on where I am and why I’m here, I always know in my heart that this is where I want to be. And despite being far from everyone I love, there are more ways to connect and stay in touch than to be physically in the same city. I hope this update serves that purpose. Love and miss you all!

Thank you for your readership!

Jen is the founder of Lunch Money, a personal finance management tool for the modern-day spender. She is currently based in LA. Follow her on Twitter!

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