current location

kyoto, japan

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today I realized...

     I'm not a biker. In highschool, I was that fat kid on our cycling trip that demanded to get picked up cause I couldn't go any further. Hell, I'm not even a traveler. The feeling has been itching me for a while now, but today it hit me - I don't actually like traveling. What I like is seeing new places and staying, not moving constantly, breaking bonds with beautiful people every few days, looking for... looking for what, exactly?
     Today I realized that I'm not cut out for this. Today, biking from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, the first leg of a long journey, a buildup of emotions began to catch up with me. I had made all these big plans: bike around Thailand another 2 weeks, pass through Myanmar, and eventually make it up to India; but then I thought, why? And I didn't have an answer. I considered going back to Bangkok, where I could rent a room in a shared home with my friends and work, but I thought, again, why? And I had no answers. Worse, I had no one beside me to answer these whys for me. No one to mull these questions over with. No one to hear out my thoughts.
     Traveling alone isn't easy for me. I'm a social person, and going for hours on end on a bike without as much as another presence alongside me can sometimes take a toll on my mental health. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there are definitely days when the solitude gets to be a little too much (maybe that's why I'm so overly excited when I meet strangers?). Of course, there is always that friendly Thai (or wherever I am) that will no doubt pop out to save my day eventually, but the one-time kindness of strangers only goes so far below the surface of things. I'm endlessly grateful for the years I've spent traveling alone, they have shaped who I am today, but I'll admit that I am not fearless. Every night before I set out on a big journey, I am shaking with anxiety. I'm stressing about this, and that, and that... And then I sit with these stresses. I get on my bike and I sit and I pedal, and no, the stresses don't get left behind. I try riding away from them, but I'm still that dork struggling to keep up on her bike, and the stresses are faster than me and they still catch up. I try to hold it together, but some days it all comes pouring out. Today, about 10km from Ayutthaya, I stopped to ask a woman for directions. I didn't make it to the end of my crap thai sentence before I started crying at her. Her face showed a mixture of compassion and shock, more so when I decided to scrap the direction-asking and rode away in tears. She called out, "Where's your boyfriend? Where are your friends?", genuinely concerned. A truckful of happy Thais stopped me a few minutes later. She had waved them down and told them to pick me up on their way, and they drove me the remaining leg to Ayutthaya. People never cease to amaze me, and all the good makes me... Well, quite frankly, it makes me sigh. Deeply. Often. In a good way.
     I'm not a biker. As much as I love my bicycle, as much as I love riding it through beautiful countrysides or busy capitals, I'm letting myself off the hook. I tried to prove to myself that I can cycle, and I did over 700km in June. Now, I realize that there is absolutely no shame in admitting that I am not married to the idea of this trip being a bicycle tour. I love my bike, and I will ride it whenever I like. That being said, I will also allow myself to take a train here or there if I feel like it. So there.
     I'm not a traveler. I'm not a traveler, but that doesn't mean I'm going to book my flights home today. It doesn't mean I'm going to hurry back to Bangkok tomorrow. I'm deciding that I'm going to take my time, and I'm going to take each day as it comes. It's not like there's a rule that I need to be moving around often! I need to keep reminding myself of the flexibility I have, reminding myself that there is no "right" way to travel. Being alone forces me to put up with myself - or, to put it nicely, to get to know myself, - and to adjust my lifestyle accordingly. I'm writing this spiel on here because after a full day of painful solitude (not that it's always painful!), I arrived at the guesthouse here to find that it's completely empty except for myself. Get that - full last night, and today, when I most need human contact, there's no one around. So here you go, this post is a treat. A raw account of what the first days of my solo adventures are truly like. But things only go uphill from here, I promise!

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