A few months back, I flew to Bangkok with the objective of spending two months in the Southeast Asian countries. Though I had done thorough research about these countries and had a clear travel plan in place, I had no idea what I was getting into.
No amount of internet research can replace the experience of living in a foreign sub-continent like Southeast Asia.
I had always imagined the region to be like Puerto Rico, nothing more than cerulean beaches, delectable seafood, and hospitable natives. However, I was in for a splendid awakening.
I have to admit, cruising through these countries brought out my ‘best self,’ more than what traveling to any other land had.
This jaunt turned out to be the most inspiring and enlightening vacation I have taken so far. It changed me in more ways than one.
Here’s what my eight-week Southeast Asian holiday taught me.
Life Lessons from Southeast Asia
1. Live Impromptu
Having worked as an accountant in a law firm, I was obsessive about planning, researching, and organizing the tasks assigned to me, leaving no space for surprises or errors.
Thus, the ‘organized me’ spent a lot of time planning the travel and stay, and making a list of the local attractions I wanted to cover in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia during these eight weeks.
I did adhere to my travel itinerary until day six of my journey when I was in the peaceful islands of Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui in Thailand.
According to my travel plan, I was to leave for Kuala Lumpur from here. However, I decided to cancel my bookings and stay longer and discover these magical islands.
Then again, I discovered this striking Vietnamese island in the Gulf of Thailand called Phu Quoc. Then decided to stay there for almost a week and give up my plans of staying in the capital, Ho Chi Minh City.
Thus, during this trip, I learned to let go of my obsession with making set plans and live a life full of surprises and unexpected adventures.
I realized that vacations aren’t only about visiting the major tourist destinations. Real escapades are authentic, impromptu, and culture immersing.
2. All for the Best
I love this song from the musical, Godspell. The lyrics go, “When you feel sad, or under a curse. Your life is bad, your prospects are worse… Don’t forget that when you get to Heaven you’ll be blessed. Yes, it’s all for the best!”
My Southeast Asian vacation reminded me of this song and helped me understand the essence of its lyrics.
On several occasions, I faced unpleasant situations like a delayed flight/bus or me falling ill. However, these unfortunate occurrences always ended pleasantly.
I happened to meet and befriend quite a few lovely people on this trip.
On one occasion when I was stuck at the Kuala Lumpur airport waiting to board the flight to Bali, I met a fellow-woman traveler, Lisa. Both of us were traveling to Indonesia and our flight was delayed by three hours.
That’s when we got into a conversation, became friends, and have kept in touch till date. This was an instance of hard luck that blossomed into a wonderful (and hopefully) lifelong relationship.
On another occasion, while vacationing in Penang Island, I fell ill after trying a much-recommended Malaysian dish called Assam Laksa. Though I received good-quality medical care and was recovering, I felt depressed and homesick.
It was during this period that I experienced the true hospitality of the natives.
The Malaysian family that was hosting my homestay took great care of me and offered me home-cooked food, helping me recuperate quickly.
Thus, I learned not to get anxious over unfortunate occurrences because all’s well that ends well. We should have patience and focus on the positive aspects of life.
3. Our Body (and Mind) Needs Pampering
When I was in Koh Samui, Thailand, I treated myself to a massage for as little as $20 an hour on Lamai Beach. The experience was better than any of the luxe spa packages available in my city.
The masseur had a complete range of sea minerals, essential oils, and cannabidiol products used for body massages.
Since I found it quite fascinating, I opted for a deep-tissue massage with CBD oil emollient scented with lavender and peppermint.
The massage was so deeply relaxing that I could feel my stress melt away. That’s when I realized how important it is to pamper our body.
Good self-care not only improves our physical and mental health, but also cheers us up and enables us to let go of situations we cannot control.
The excitement of traveling solo to these welcoming countries and the joy of meeting new people along the way and embracing our cultural differences made this holiday truly memorable. I look forward to going on more such splendid trips in the future.
About The Author
Joy Smith is a speaker, mentor, entrepreneur, mother of four, and grandmother of six. After trying a number of poor quality CBD products, she teamed up with her family to develop an organically grown, full spectrum hemp oil to help people who suffer from a wide array of ailments. Visit Joy’s website to learn more.