How Thailand Changed Me Forever

If you’ve read my first few blogs, you know that prior to this Thailand adventure, I travelled only to all-inclusive, five-star resorts with too much luggage, designer sunglasses and a bag full of hair products. I stayed on resorts and drank martinis with my pinky finger stuck up in the air. (Okay, not actually, but you get the point.) I was a pampered traveller until my eyes were opened this past November on our trip to film Tan Your Mind 2 Thailand.

I was raised in Northern British Columbia. A redneck princess through and through, I do love outdoor adventures, fishing, camping and “roughing it”—however, that was in the safety of my own backyard. I was familiar with my surroundings and I knew what to expect. When I travelled outside my comfort zone, I wanted the safety and luxury of a resort, complete with room service, waiters and fluffy white robes. Don’t get me wrong—it was wonderful—but now I look back and see just how much I was missing.

phimai festival longboat races

Watching the longboat action with our Phimai guide, George. (Outpost/Michael Fraiman)

Sporting my new Chaco sandals and my huge Osprey backpack, I prepared a trip to Thailand that would change me forever. The transition began before I even left my home, as I wondered what to pack and what not to pack, realizing that this backpack was all I would have for the next three weeks. The thought was both terrifying and exciting.

So off I went into the unknown, with a brave face and a boarding pass. I didn’t know that my luxurious way of travel would be ending forever.

ko tao dive masters

Abra and Jess heading out to the dive boat on Ko Tao. (Outpost/Michael Fraiman)

There are some countries I’ve visited where the people are extremely polite, but for a cost. Everything is about money. Vendors will shout at you to buy their trinkets. Along the beaches, they shout out, “Good deal for you, only today!”

But not in Thailand. They call it “The Land of Smiles,” and I thought, “Okay, so people must be friendly,” but it goes so much deeper than that. Everyone in Thailand is genuinely happy that you’ve come to visit their country. The pride they have for their homeland seeps from their every pore and it is highly contagious. I get goosebumps just writing about it.

chiang mai buddhist temples

Our new friend, A, shows Abra how to make a krathong. (Outpost / Michael Fraiman)

We were honoured guests everywhere we went. The Thai people would dress up in their celebration regalia just for us! We were offered food and shelter from everyone we met and they wanted nothing in return. To see someone who has nothing but is offering you everything is the most humbling experience I’ve ever had. It opened my eyes to the fact that all of the stuff we have in Canada—the cars, the homes, the jewelry—we don’t need any of it to be happy. All this hype about luxury, money and fancy materialism is so empty and unnecessary.

After three weeks in Thailand, I learned that all we need to be happy is love, and we need to share that love, because love is free and of a limitless supply.

alek mike mulberries

On the mulberry farm, laughing is infectious. (Outpost / Michael Fraiman)

I can wholeheartedly say that after this trip, I won’t always be jailed up in a frilly, five-star resort. I want to be out with the local people, learning about their everyday lives. I want to see what makes them happy, what makes them wake up every day and be thankful for what they have.

Thank you, Thailand, for showing me that less, truly and honestly, is so much more.

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