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Journey Doctor

Her Thailand Diary

The following notes are journal entries from (30 year old) Karen's first international journey on her own. They chart the highs and lows of long-term solo travel, the once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences, the struggles against fear and homesickness, friends made, mistakes made, chances taken, and the ultimate reward -- confidence and courage. We are grateful to Karen for her generosity in allowing us to publish this personal material. Hopefully it will help to prepare other women setting off on their own journeys. Solo travel is probably one of the most enriching things we, as women, can ever do for ourselves but it requires a lot of practice and it's almost never easy. I guess, if it were simple, everybody would be doing it.

Evelyn Hannon, Editor


Karen writes...

November 17 -- Bangkok, Thailand
This place is so incredible: the people, the food, the sights. Everyone's so warm and friendly. I don't even mind that they're trying to rip me off left, right, and centre. Got to get better at haggling, though...

November 20 -- Bangkok, Thailand
I'm having a blast, have met all kinds of people--and I mean, all kinds--and will leave Bangkok in a day or two or three. I don't know where I'm headed, and that's the best part.

November 23 -- Bangkok, Thailand
Bankok's wearing me down. Traffic. Pollution. Hawkers. I'm on overload. My system's in shock from total change in diet and activity. I'm really sick. I think it's from some squid I ate yesterday. I can't keep anything down (not that I want to even try). I tried some of the diarrhea medication the doctor gave me, but it's just making it worse. Things to remember -- don't eat street vendor seafood in Bangkok. Don't get in a Tuk Tuk. Take water wherever you go.

December 1 -- Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thought for sure I'd die on the back of that motorcycle. We had no helmets. I was stupid to put my life in the hands of a testosterone-driven guy. Pierre was going so fast (120 km/hr!!) I couldn't even keep my eyes open. At times we were airborne for whole, long, seconds. Resolved I would die and calmed down a bit into a rather peaceful death trance, the wind thrumming a rapid-fire dirge in my ears. I still can't believe I'm all in one piece. I won't be doing that again. Other than that, though, it was a great day. I rode an elephant!

December 4 -- Mae Hong Sa, Thailand
I can finally see why people love travelling so much. I suspected it would be mind-expanding, but never knew the heart would grow so much, too. I miss my music, though. A couple of times I've wept into my pineapple juice when the ex-pat radio station's played a favourite old pop song. My senses are heightened beyond anything I've known before.

December 12 -- Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand
My dreams are changing. The landscape, the breadth, the subject matter, all expanding.

December 14 -- Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand
I've never been so sick. All at once. I'm throwing up. I have severe stomach pain and diarrhea. I have a cold so bad I can hardly breathe and my throat hurts so much when I cough my eyes shed tears. I went to the pharmacist on this island and she said I have an infection in my throat. She gave me some antibiotics, and no sooner had I taken the first two when I remembered my doctor telling me NEVER to take antibiotics over here --they'll affect your stomach. Too late. I threw them away but my stomach, which was already really hurting, has got me twisted into an agonizing position that sleep can't creep up on. Plus I have the worst period cramps I can remember and I put my back out somehow (how?). Walking around helps a little, but I'm stooped and quite often I find myself cursing out loud. If it weren't so darn painful it would be utterly hilarious. I'm not laughing.

December 16 -- Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand
Feeling better, mostly. But nobody's heard of Joni Mitchell here, and it's killing me.

December 20 -- Ko Lanta Yai, Thailand
It's nice to have a clean washroom, and I only have to kill a few bugs and spiders. The geckos and praying mantises do the rest.

December 25 -- Ko Lanta Yai, Thailand
Last night, Christmas Eve, we had a huge party, farangs [foreigners] and Thais. Seafood, games, fireworks, presents, and even a funny little Christmas tree, Charlie Brownish, stuck in the sand. Friends got me to emcee the games, the Thai dancing, and the gift exchange. So much fun, my face still hurts from non-stop laughing and smiling.

 

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