The Thailand Trip Where I Clicked No Pictures

A love letter to a side of myself I hadn’t known existed.

The Thailand Trip Where I Clicked No Pictures
One of the pictures Tania clicked for me in Thailand.

A love letter to a side of myself I hadn’t known existed.

“Let’s go take a dip in the ocean?” Tania asks me.

“But I just applied sunscreen,” I protest.

She pushes out her lower lip opens her eyes wide, blinking pointedly. 

I know I can’t say no to that face. 

So, together, we jump in the water, splashing each other, laughing in the late-March sunshine, sunglasses glinting with reflected light.

Her laughter is like music, and the clouds paint stories of different worlds across the sky, always moving, constantly evolving into new chapters.

I throw my head back and let it all sink in. 

The clear blue sky. The endless turquoise waters stretching out far as the eye can see. The ocean breeze weaving tendrils of salt through my hair. This, right here, is real. It’s happening.

And it’s happening to me.

After so much hustle, sleepless nights, back-to-back meetings, and 12-hour work-days, I managed to steal time away for myself. 

If anyone deserves to be this happy, it’s me.

My Thailand trip can be described in two words: spontaneous and full of new adventures.

Okay, that’s more than two words. But they do indeed capture the vibe of everything I felt and experience during those six days in a foreign South East Asian land.

I’ve been on solo trips before. But this was the first time I booked tickets to another country on a whim, limited budget, and zero concrete plans.

I remember when I took that decision to visit Thailand earlier that month. It was during another vacation. I was sitting near Chidiyatapu beach in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India, watching the moon rise over an inky black sea. As I absorbed the atmosphere around me, the only thought in my head was, “I haven’t had enough interesting experiences. I haven’t seen many foreign lands. If I want to be a good writer, I need to live a better life. I need to be a more interesting person.”

The cynical voice in my head told me this was the trap this capitalistic society wants every person to be in. More experiences. More possessions. Always exploring. Always exchanging money for that temporary rush of dopamine.

But capitalistic or not, at that moment sitting at Chidiyatapu beach, my mind was made. I had to visit this land of fantasies and see how it shapes my life and journey as a writer.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward a couple weeks, and here I sit writing this article. My head’s full of memories and my heart’s still relishing all the beautiful experiences I had.

But if you asked me to show pictures, I’d be helpless.

This was the first trip in my life where I forgot to click a single picture of me (Apart from the one I used as the feature image in this article — that was clicked on my first evening there, just a few hours after I landed).

If you’ve been following my journey on Medium or Instagram, you’d know I’m a huge fan of documenting my journey, I love taking pictures because they serve as memories when nothing else remains.

So what changed? How did this trip make me forget my phone?

I think the main reason why this trip was so different was that Thailand is a place that forces you to forget your *normal* life and be one hundred percent immersed in the present.

The emerald waters, white sands, and cotton candy clouds floating on an ombre sky at sunset purge your mind of all thoughts. They make you forget who you were or who you want to be.

There are no expectations, no dreams, no societal pressures.

In this land so disconnected from the rest of the world, you’re just you.

You don’t need to worry about being judged, disappointing, or being disappointed by others. 

All you have to do is listen to what your heart says and follow it.

I followed my heart, and it led me to Tania.

I grew up in India, a place with thrice the population of the United States crammed into one-third the country’s area. With such a huge population density, the resources are limited and the competition fierce.

Children of my generation, the millennials, grew up with their parents’ dreams shining bright in their eyes. My parents are both engineers, and the only dream I knew was to crack IIT — the country’s most reputed engineering institution.

I studied and worked through my teenage years, never really getting the time or space to understand what my heart’s true calling is. I found solace in hustle, and the only way I knew to spend my free time was to cram in some more work.

When I landed in Thailand and took the first look at the endless expanse of blue seas and white sands, the thought that immediately struck me was how different this scene is from what I’m used to.

I stayed for a night at Phuket and the next five nights at Phi Phi Island. Those six days were the most hectic, and yet, in a way, the most relaxed six days of my life.

On day one, I set out to the beach and did some touristy things. I ate street food, played some water sports at the beach, and went to a few parties where the music was the loudest and the alcohol cheapest. This was the only evening I managed to take my phone out and snap a few pictures.

The next day, I was supposed to head to Phi Phi Island on a ferry. I met a lady there, another solo traveler from India, and we hit it off instantly, For this article’s purpose, let’s call her Tania.

Tania and I stayed together for the next five days.

My supposedly solo trip turned out to be a girls’ trip. But I couldn’t have imagined anything better than this in my wildest dreams.

If I’m ice, she’s fire. If I’m the calm leaf, she’s the prettiest flower you’d notice on a tree. She’s the Yin to my Yang, the perfect extroverted partner to make my shy self lose all inhibitions.

What she showed me was a world so beyond my usual reality, that every night, I had to struggle to remind myself that all of this is truly happening.

We played ball with drunk strangers in a pool party. 

We rented a kayak and took it to an isolated beach on another island. There were monkeys on that beach, some looking particularly ferocious, but we managed to escape before things got serious.

We danced at every bar Phi Phi island had to offer.

We roamed the streets drinking watermelon juice and dancing to foreigners playing guitar on the street.

We watched the sun set lounging on an open boat in the middle of the sea.

We played bar games and exchanged stories with strangers from halfway across the world.

And through it all, I never once thought to take out my phone and click a picture. 

I’d always believed pictures were essential to remember a vacation. 

But this time, I understood what you capture in your mind’s eye stays with you longer and carries more meaning than any digital image could.

The trip to Thailand taught me to embrace my uninhibited side, the one that cares nothing about what others think. 

It taught me not adhere too hard to plans I’d already made. It taught me to let go of my expectations and flow with the natural rhythm the Universe has decided for me.

But more than anything else, it taught me to live in the moment. 

It assured me that it’s okay if I don’t document the present or preserve lessons and memories for posterity.

It taught me to listen to my gut, to my body, and choose what’s important for me. To make decisions more attuned with who I want to be, rather than who I want to portray as in front of the world.

And as for Tania, she taught me the meaning of spontaneity.

She showed me what it’s like to truly be free of expectations, from myself or from others.

She showed me what friendship is, and what colors life can take if we decide to give our hearts a little love and comfort.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again, but the memories she gave me are staying with me forever. 

Even if I don’t have a single picture of us together, I have this beautiful story.

And is that any less special?

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