25 Things I Learned About Myself In Thailand

This post is both a bit personal and a bit random. While sitting in a cafe a few days ago, I wrote a long list of things I learned about myself over the past 2 months in Thailand. Some of them are silly, some funny, some very personal. It’s not meant to be deep or meaningful, just something I wanted to jot down and keep for my own sake. While I failed to write a Thailand travel guide, Thailand most definitely taught me so much, and I’ll never forget my time there.

Would love if any other fellow solo travellers wanted to share things they may have learned about themselves while travelling long-term. Feel free to leave a comment. x

1. I devour books like there’s no tomorrow.

I have come to the realisation that I cannot simply put a book down while reading it. When I was a little younger my travelling priorities laid with having fun, partying and making new friends. Over the past two months, I could not leave my dorm if I had a good book to read. I would be clued to every page and nothing was going to get in my way of discovering what happened next. This could also be an indicator of the high quality of books I have been reading! Jeffrey Archer for the win!

2. I can’t drink like I used to.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s bad because it means if I ever go over my limit (it happens to all of us at times!) I suffer from the worst hangovers in the world. The good thing is I am learning that my alcohol tolerance isn’t what it used to be and have been having as many sober nights as possible. When i was younger, I feel I was always the crazy party person…nowadays I’m the quiet recluse reading a book in bed drinking a solitary beer!

3. I work best under pressure.

As a blogger and freelance blogger, I am nothing without strict deadlines. Honestly, I work best under pressure so if i am told I have two hours to writ an article, consider it done. If I am told “take as long as you need”…well, that article will never get written!

4. I’m not a beach person.

This is a bit mad coming from someone who just spent 6 weeks island hopping in Thailand but i have come to the conclusion that I am really not a beach person. Do I like water? Hell yes. Swimming pools? Of course. Surfing? Yes please. But simply lying on a beach for the day just to tan? NO THANKS. I guess I am just too restless for that. Plus…I get too hot, too quickly to be able to stay a full day in the sun.

5. My obsession with Instagram is unhealthy.

This is a huge fault, and an obsession that grew very quickly and i am keen to extinguish just as fast. I found myself obsessing so much over getting the perfect shot for Instagram while island hopping in Phi Phi, that arriving to Maya Bay and discovering the tide was out and it looked nothing like the photos made me ridiculously angry. Not getting ‘that photo’ was about to ruin what had been an amazing dat trip. I have since tried to take a step back from Instagram, posting less often and not giving a flying…fish…about how many likes or comments my photos get. YOLO.

6. I have a high tolerance for spicy food

I actually realised this in India, but my time in Thailand has cemented the fact that I LOVE spicy food and have a controversially high tolerance to spicy food! YUM.

7. I prefer to be too hot than too cold. 

I can’t count the number of nights where i had to fight with people in my dormitory over how high or low the air con should be set. While I love aircon, and won’t stay anywhere in Asia without it, being too cold when trying to sleep is just horrible. i stayed in one hostel in Koh Samui where I had to wear all my clothes in bed and use my blanket and towel to stop myself from shivering because the zircon was turned on so high.

8. Eating grasshoppers makes me sick.

Random fact…after eating grasshopper at the night market in Chiang Mai, I almost got sick in my mouth. The same thing happened after drinking snake blood in Vietnam. I will try everything once….but once is most definitely enough.

9. Thai Red bull makes me sick.

The stuff of nightmares. Thai Red Bull, which is said to be THREE TIMES as strong as western Red Bull makes me very, very sick. I will not be touching it again, and you shouldn’t either.

10. I can tan, despite my red hair

I think I always knew this, but it was confirmed again by so many people i met on the road. “You’re from Ireland?!” they would ask. “But…you’re so tanned!” Yes, Irish people can in fact get a tan Mad, right?!

11. I still love to send postcards

Sent lots of postcards to friends and family and even snapchat followers while in Thailand. I feel us postcard senders are very much a dying breed.

12. One is never too old to try new things

One of my biggest accomplishments over the past 2 months was learning how to ride a scooter. It is something I was always too scared to do but finally my friend Steph taught me what to do and now i wonder how different my previous travels would have been if I had explored everywhere by scooter. one thing is for sure…I am totally hooked. It taught me that you are never too old to learn something new. Next up…I want to learn yoga!

13. Hostels are no longer my best friend

I am not saying I don’t like them, I most definitely do. I am just saying they are no longer ‘the best thing since sliced bread’, which would have been my previous opinion of them. The truth is, my travel style really has changed and I am more interested in clean sheets and a private bathroom with fresh towels than I am sleeping in a 16 bed mixed dorm with fun, party-hard backpackers.

14. Age is just a number…or is it.

Age IS just a number….until you find yourself partying at a Full Moon beach party with a group of 21 year old who drink like fish and seem to suffer no hangovers. Then, suddenly, age becomes a lot more than a number and your headaches last as many hours as you have had birthdays.

15. I’m an extremely patient traveller

I waited 5 hours for a bus to leave, sat on said bus for 12 hours, arrived at 6 in the morning and waiting 3 more hours in a McDonalds until it was time to catch my flight and made not one single complaint. I am a very patient traveller. A decade of backpacking will do that.

16. Blood makes me squeamish

After my little fainting episode on Koh Tao where I  cut my head open and knocked half my front tooth out, i woke up with a lot of blood on my face and hair. it was not a pretty site and boy did I not like it. First I felt sick, then upset, then I just cried. 

17. I prefer slow travel

The more i travel, the more I realise I prefer to do it really slow and to try get to know a place. My two favourite places happen to be the ones I stayed longest in, Koh Phangan (3 weeks in total) and Chaing Mai (just under 2 weeks). The longer I stay in a place, the more I like it. Going forward, I plan to travel a lot slower and from June onwards, I might even try to stick to overland travel.

18. I really do have TOO MUCH hair

This is a bit of an ongoing joke with my friends. From hairdressers in Korea telling me my hair was ‘dangerous’ or that I had ‘too many hairs’ and they were going to charge me for TWO blow dries instead of one, to people on the road always commenting on how much hair I have, an incident in Thailand finally confirmed everything for me. When i went to get stitches in my head on Koh Tao, the doctor shaved off a big chunk of my hair to clean the wound and stitch it up. She then laughed and said, “I shaved off lots of your hair, but you have so much nobody will notice!” She was right.

19. Travelling with other bloggers makes me happy

Now that I am a full time blogger who must update every type of social media possible throughout the day an devout many hours to writing articles, travelling with other bloggers makes life SO much easier. They don’t laugh at you snap chatting your day, because they are doing it themselves. They understand you aren’t going out partying because you have deadlines to meet and they are just on the same wave length all the time. I hope to hang out with more fellow bloggers in the future.

20. I’m capable of travel fails

From not drinking enough water and fainting multiple times, to losing my shoes at a temple to turning up at the wrong airport for a flight, it seems no matter how experienced I am at travelling, I am still very much capable of major travel fails!

21. I still have my old wild streak

As all the above points indicate, I am not the person I used to be. That said, my wild streak still comes out and when it does, madness ensues. During Songkran Festival, I persuaded 2 fellow bloggers and 2 Scottish girls I had just befriended to jump into the back of the next pick up truck that passed, so we could get a free lift to a nightclub and enjoy the mass watertight from a different angle. They agree, in we jumped, and I have never laughed so much in my life. Getting wild every now and then is a must.

22. Wasting money stresses me out

I hate hate hate wasting money. I guess everyone does, but it really stresses me out. little things like been made to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a really crap breakfast, or not being able to get a refund on booked accommodation, or losing money on a night out all make me unreasonable upset. It’s just money, right? not in my eyes!

23. Speaking to strangers feels rewarding

This is a weird one. I avoid it a lot of the time, but whenever I make the effort to talk to strangers, I instantly feel better about myself. I suddenly feel more confident and good things nearly always come of it. From offers of jobs to free hotel stays, talking to strangers has actually never had a negative effect on me. Especially in airports…everyone should make new friends in airports!

24. I don’t need other people to be happy

Travelling solo, yet again, has made me realise that I truly do not need to depend on other people to make me happy. That’s not to say that other people don’t make me happy, they do. Sometimes I absolutely LOVE being around others. But I am just as happy to be by myself, exploring an island on my scooter, chilling out by the pool and soaking up the sunshine, reading a book. Whatever, wherever, I have finally made peace with my own company and it’s great to know that I can make myself happy.

25. I’m a belieber

That’s right. I said it. I stand by it. And I know there many more secret Beliebers out there! Make yourself known.

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10 Comments

  1. April 22, 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Love this post as can relate to so much! No 2 regarding drinking is so true but still have nights where I never learn, and 21, the wild streak is still there even though age 50 is fast approaching! We much prefer slow travel and have had the best times when talking and meeting strangers too! Thanks for sharing really enjoyed the post! ~ Carole.

  2. April 22, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    I agree with so much of this! First of all, I’m a not-so-closeted but newbie Belieber so cheers to that. I also have an insane + questionably high tolerance to spicy food, but that’s something I’ve known my entire life as it’s always been a bit of an oddity to most.

    I send postcards and letters often; I agree we are a dying breed. As far as staying in hostels, I’m into them when I can get a private room. My boyfriend and I have opted for them as they’re generally within the same price range as a dorm room, but I understand that’s not an option solo traveling. We’re currently in a dorm in Hanoi and the 19-year-olds are making me realize how much I’ve changed over the years! (Although the hangovers post-late, late, late nights in Vang Vieng pretty much proved that I can’t hang at age 27 like I could back in the day!)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing the post! I enjoyed reading it! Safe travels to Hong Kong =)

  3. April 23, 2016 / 5:59 am

    Solo travel is the best time to read and find inner peace :)

  4. April 23, 2016 / 10:59 am

    This post is absolutely hilarious! Love all your points, and I’m sure I would learn a thing or two or 25 about myself if I were to travel consecutively for months! I’m also a booklover (and a Believer, heyyy!!!), and I know that I prefer being too cold to being too hot (Norwegian, what can I say?) :) Loved reading this list!

    I also hope your Instagram addiction doesn’t stop completely, because I love your photos! All though let’s not let it ruin a lovely day trip :)

  5. jenruizwriter
    December 22, 2016 / 12:33 am

    Haha this is hilarious! I don’t need to try the grasshopper to know it wouldn’t sit well with me, and I think we all have an unhealthy Instagram and Justin Bieber addiction!

  6. December 26, 2016 / 10:11 am

    Is a belieber what I think it is?

    However, this was a run read, Janet! We are also now in Thailand and I can rely on so many things on your post. Slow travel is the best, without any rush and hurry – just loving it!

    • December 26, 2016 / 10:21 am

      haha it sure is! Are you a fan?

      I agree – slow travel really is great. I think I owe you an email – going to message you now!

      • Hostelgeeks
        January 19, 2017 / 4:57 am

        I think I wouldn’t even recognize the music. :)

  7. Jennifer A
    December 27, 2016 / 12:35 am

    I love this post ! Having spent 4 months this year in SE Asia and Indonesia I can relate to most of this.
    And Bieber has improved massively since he started working with Diplo and skrillix etc so there’s no shame there!

  8. tonyedwards185194138
    December 27, 2016 / 2:25 am

    Thanks for the post and for your Blog, Janet. I’m from Los Angeles and, except for a short jaunt to Japan, I have never travelled the world. However, after a sudden and tragic life change, I decided that, at age 61, the time is now. In fact, the time is ALWAYS now (Thanks, Eckhart Tolle!). I am venturing out into the wider world, starting in Phuket, Thailand. I plan to travel for six months solo. Photography is my passion, so incredible sights are my main deciders of where I go. But, I’m also taking the opportunity to explore myself as an individual. Like you, I also love meeting strangers, talking to them and learning from them.

    Maybe we will run into each other somewhere along way. If not, then happy travels and, again, thanks for everything!