Who cries from travelling? I do. No, it’s not the usual issue of my mom asking when I will go back home. It’s that sudden realization that I was out of my comfort zone. That’s supposed to be a good thing, right?
After a long three months of travelling around Europe, Jon and I decided to recover in Thailand before continuing our journey to other parts of the world. We started in Koh Lanta then moved to Krabi. Koh Lanta was amazing. Our days were spent relaxing in our small hut and walking towards the beach for the beautiful sunsets. We had great Thai food next to where we were staying – green curry, pineapple pancakes and coconut shakes. When we felt like splashing out, we would eat or grab a few drinks in one of the restaurants by the beach. It was the relaxing time we had always wanted.
After a week in Koh Lanta and a day trip to Koh Phi Phi, we took a boat to Tonsai Bay, a known backpacking area in Krabi. Since other parts of Krabi were very touristy and downright expensive, Tonsai Bay was the practical choice but it was nothing like Koh Lanta. We stayed in a small shack that seemed alright at first but there was no electricity most of the day, the bed was hard and it was quite far from the nice beach. The beach in Tonsai Bay is not bad but the rocky shoreline shows during low tide – which is every night. It just wasn’t fit for swimming at all. The town was an extreme version of a backpacker area – the hippie vibe was just too strong for me. To get to the nicer beaches in Railay Bay, we walked for about an hour into the jungle-y part between Tonsai Bay and Railay Bay, another option was to cross the water when the tide was low (or an expensive boat across which doesn’t go unless there are enough people). It wasn’t easy. In some ways, I was afraid that other parts of the trip would be like Tonsai Bay. I was afraid of the drastic change in lifestyle. I wasn’t sure if this kind of travel was right for me.
Read More: Tonsai Bay is part of the area known as Krabi. It’s actually a pretty cool place — check out this post on why you should visit Krabi.
Realizations: Becoming a Backpacker
After a few days, I realized I was just exhausted and I should give the place a chance. Jon even offered that we move but it wasn’t just the tiny shack. It was my attitude towards what was in front of me. Tonsai Bay gave me the chance to accept the changes in this travel lifestyle and the difficulties in the circumstances we would face from then on. I was on a big trip around the world and it wouldn’t always be sunshine and rainbows. It would be tough but it would also be the best times of my life. I was ready to accept the hard part about being a backpacker.
Backpacking around the World
During this trip around the world, I realized how much I have grown as a person. From that moment in Tonsai Bay I experienced some difficulties along the way and I adjusted to these situations accordingly.
Riding the chicken buses was a lot of effort. These were not relaxing rides at all! From El Salvador to Nicaragua, we took the public chicken buses to travel from town to town. It was challenging to carry a few backpacks and find something to hold on to while standing up alongside so many people. If we were lucky to get a seat and the driver placed our bag on top of the bus, there was always the possibility of losing our bags or missing our stop because it was too hard to move out of the bus.
Probably the most challenging part of our travel days was the trip to the Corn Islands. We took a long bus ride from Managua to El Rama then had to stay the night because the cargo boat / ferry didn’t leave till the next day. At the port, we waited for hours. After half a day, we finally boarded the boat only to realize there was an engine problem and we couldn’t leave the dock. We decided to sleep, but when we woke up we hadn’t moved! With my little Spanish, I asked the men onboard for any news and they kept telling us a little more. We had bunk beds but the sleeping conditions were very basic. If Jon wasn’t with me I would have been so depressed over the situation already. The next day, we finally moved. It took almost another full day (and a really bumpy ride) to reach Big Corn Island. Then we took a panga ride to reach Little Corn Island in miserable weather. The rain hit like glass on my face, the swells were high and I had never feared for my life more! It was the craziest 30 minutes of my life. The sea had scarred me. It was three hard days of travelling just to see the Corn Islands. Looking back, seeing the Corn Islands was memorable but I will also never forget the long way to get there.
Related Article: Tourist Boat Tragedy in the Corn Islands (An unfortunate incident this year when a boat capzised between Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island)
In terms of travelling itself, the W Trek in Torres del Paine was the most challenging. I had to carry a 7kg backpack parts of the way and no shower for two days. The trek itself was a feat of its own. Instead of 5 days, we did the W trek in 4 days so it was a lot of effort but it was one of the best multi-day treks we’ll ever do.
Sometimes, when things get difficult I ask myself, “Is it worth it?”. It always is. Backpacking can be challenging, especially when you are used to a comfortable lifestyle (life in Singapore was pretty cruisy). It can get to you when things are not easy – be patient and remember not everyone has the courage to follow their dreams of travel. It’s all worth it!
Have you just started a backpacking trip? Which place made you a stronger person? Let us know.