It was a simple trip in a big way.
Thailand was a land that we had only heard about in stories. A place where everything is affordable. A land that is lush and vibrant. A land that welcomes those who come to explore. We were heading out of Bangkok and moving along to our second leg of the trip, Khao Lak. We landed in Phuket, collected our luggage and found our driver.
The drive north landed us at our first stop, a small bungalow that we had been eagerly expecting in the lead up to this trip. A family hotel deep within the villages of Khao Lak. The place was founded by a German expat now happily residing on the beaches of this small village. He was welcoming and enthusiastic to have us there. We said our hello's but the late arrival had all of our bellies grumbling and eager to find something to eat.
"My friend owns a restaurant, I can take you in my truck if you'd like"
We took him up on the offer. There we found a little roadside cafe. It would become the staple of our time in Khao Lak. Great eats, locals zooming in and out, village dogs coming up to beg for a scrap of food, a place that was the furthest thing from pretentious.
We knew this place was special.
On the first night, we sat outside of our room and just took it in. The night settled and you could feel the world. Shadows of lush scenery all around and the hum of the ocean tides coming in and out.
It was paradise.
A story of rules or lack thereof
On day two we decided to give in to our curiosity and rent a motorbike. Since we had arrived in Thailand we witnessed motorbikes everywhere. Zooming in and out of traffic, used for personal transport, business deliveries, or just for fun. Neither of us had driven one but we had to give it a go. We asked at the local market (which conveniently rented out motorbikes too) how much it would cost.
"60 Baht a day" the store attendant replied.
Now lets pause for a second.
My travels in less developed countries have left me with the understanding that rules are usually flexible.
I was raised in the U.S, a country where everything is a rule or regulation, this simplistic way of doing business can throw someone off. There was no need for licenses requirements, insurance cards, motorbike training etc. And the lack of all of those steps did not make this any more or less dangerous.
We paid for the bike, we were handed keys for the bike - simple.
What I found more amusing was how the experience with the motorbike began. I came into the situation having ZERO experience.
Our logic went like this.
"You have driven ATVs, so you can take it for a spin first."
"After I see you do it a few times, I'll go for it. Easy."
We took ownership of the bike and struggled to even get the thing started!
We laughed at each other. The store attendant looked on as we fumbled. We struggled for a couple more minutes, and then the store attendant came out and instructed us on how to get it started.
All the talk of rules and regulations, and we couldn't even get this going!
Even with all of the fumbling, the store attendant didn't take the keys away and give us our money back. We were given the ability to explore.
Once the motorbike was running we went to it like normal. We would eventually rent another bike, and by the end of our time on these bikes, you would think we had been doing it all along.
I love this little tale because it really provided a firsthand experience of the contrasts that travel can provide.
Father, traveler, self trained creative, and spectator of life. The quest is to live a life intentionally, to construct a life of my choosing. I left the comfort of home at the age of nineteen and have been enjoying the Viaje as it unfolds ever since