Tonight, I would be sitting on a plane to Bangkok.
This is my maiden trip to Thailand. I would be cruising on the busy waters of Chao Phraya, bowing my head in supplication before the ancient Thai Wats, and eating street food delicacies. I would visit the ancient ruins of Ayuthhaya, photograph the iconic Buddha head with roots adorning it. I would also travel to the North Thailand city of Chiang Mai where I would be having my first Tattoo, a special one called Bamboo tattoo (famous in Thailand.) I would bike around this charming town that so many travellers miss in their quest for sex tourism in Thailand. Next I will hit the beaches in the relatively less crowded Krabi town, where I would island hop, snorkel and laze around. Did I mention to you the weekend market shopping in Chatuchak market, and the street food again?
Now I must be excited right? Excited like hell maybe.
I am excited, and yet gripped by a fear that I can not possibly comprehend.
I am having a panic attack. This is not my first trip to a foreign country, I traveled to Malaysia last year and the trip went perfectly fine. It was one of the most exciting and revelatory experiences of my life. I am not even traveling alone, I have a trusted friend to accompany me and help me live the journey better. It would be his first travel outside the country. Suffice to say, he should be scared far worse than me considering he has never traveled as much as me.
But I assure you, we are feeling the same level of anxiousness.
What is it that makes you nervous and grips you before you embark on a travel, on an unknown journey?
Let me jot it down, and we can see how to overcome it together. Shall we?
We fear for things to go wrong. I have been shifting my passport into safer nooks and corners in my travel bag, for fear that I may lose it or worse, someone might steal it. And then what? I would be stranded tomorrow in the airport with no passport, my worst nightmare these days. I am worried about the visa. Not just this, the paranoia of losing passport is so great that we are going for the relatively expensive option of visa-on-arrival, rather than the normal visa route in India for fear that it may get lost in the courier or be misplaced by the visa agency. Getting a passport is so difficult in India that we protect it more than our kidneys. I also fear everyday about the visa-on-arrival, I recheck the Thai Embassy website almost daily to check if they have changed the rules. Maybe I will miss an important point, and they will deny me an entry in Bangkok, and deport me back to India. Nightmare no 2.
We just need to relax, and tell ourselves “Que sera sera” — whatever will be, will be. We can only be careful and ensure we have prepared ourselves for the worst case scenario. Panicking will only help us lose or fuck things up more.
P.S: Did I tell you I have been counting the Thai Baht received in foreign exchange, just to make sure they aren’t counterfeit. God knows, things like that happen in India.
2. Some more fear
My friend is afraid he will miss out on taking enough photos and videos. So he has been ordering memory cards and batteries online ever since. I am afraid I wont have an umbrella in the searing heat of Thailand in March. I don’t know how far our anxieties will carry us?
Chill. Unless we are not traveling to the Himalayas, where we can’t be sure we will find stores, we can simply leave our materialistic worries behind. I have been telling myself that there is a 7-eleven store right outside our Airbnb accommodation. Only meditation might help me now.
3. Reality distortion
Sitting at my workplace, my mind is not even willing to accept the fact that I am going to travel so far from my usual setting in just two days. Its like winning a lottery. You shutdown your senses because you are afraid that accepting the reality may change it. I am afraid of too much happiness because something may go wrong again. Shit! This caption should have been something like “more and more fear.”
4. Imagining stupid stuff
Sometimes I imagine that I will fall sick in Thailand and won’t be able to visit all the places. My friend was imagining that we might be captured in a racket where strangers will sell his organs in a dim yo yo bar in Bangkok. Now you must beware of your peers. Often they are jealous of your trip, and will come up with advice that will scare the shit out of you, the organ racket in this case. Sure, they mean the best for you, and you must travel safe, but imaginary fears are unreasonable. LOOK, who’s talking(feeling shy).
5. Parental scares
Family like friends, love you and in order to protect you come up with questions like, “Is the hotel room safe?”, “Do they have cannibals in that island?”, “You are a girl, who will protect you there, what if you get raped somewhere?” I must write an entire book on the fears of being a girl traveler. Sure we may be courageous, but fear grips us too before every adventure.
Writing helps; write your fears and anxieties out, in your diary, on medium, anywhere. After I jotted down my fears and the means to combat it, I feel calmer and more prepared mentally.
I am still not sure if this trip would happen, if I would travel safe and come back with memories and learnings. If I will discover A BIT MORE of the wondrous world I inhabit. My waking moments are lived only yearning to travel more. These eyes that I have been born with want to see every beauty out there in the world, but along with all that beauty I am afraid of the ugly that I will also encounter some day. My senses want more, but my brain triggers survival instincts that want to keep me safe and cocooned.
Break free of the cocoon, and your fears.
Hope to meet you all on the other side of the trip with exciting stories.