Reflections on my Thailand Trip

I’ve been home from my Thailand vacation for nearly two weeks. My journey was occupied by elephant riding, golden Buddhas and temples, boat rides, ladyboy cabarets, plenty of shopping (from floating markets to modern malls), and even bottle-feeding a baby tiger. Here’s an update on where I’m at post-vacation and follow up on a couple of trip goals.

Jet Lag

Jet lag recovery has been tedious; I just can’t seem to get my body back to its old self (and time zone). I’m no stranger to traveling great distances (Australia and East Africa to be exact), but jet lag from this trip is more significant than before. Likely due to me being older. Swell. I also had a nasty head cold the entire trip and slept poorly. I prefer those reasons to the former and will stick to them fervently. The first night back in my own bed, I crashed for 14 hours solid, which was truly glorious. But every night since then has been a crapshoot. Here are a few remedies I’ve tested to help my biological clock get back into LA mode:

  • No iPhone, TV, or bright lighting 1-2 hours before bed
  • Taking a hot evening bath
  • Ensuring my bedroom is very dark and cool
  • Exposing myself to sunlight in the morning
  • No caffeine after noon.

Some nights I’ve been taking an over-the-counter sleep aid, which allows me to sleep until morning. On the nights I don’t take it, I wake up around 2am and have trouble falling back asleep. I’m not a fan of using drugs to catch some z’s, so I picked up melatonin a few days ago to help get me on track in a more natural way. At twelve days back, I’m finally seeing light at the end of the jet lag tunnel.

Minimalist Packing

I’m happy to report that my packing plan worked out well! Of the 17 people in the group, I had the least/smallest luggage by far. Some others had two huge suitcase full of stuff! I only had to wear a few items twice, which was just fine (the humidity wasn’t as brutal as expected). Some thoughts for next time:

  • I didn’t love one of my shirts and pairs of pants. Typically, it wouldn’t be an issue, but with so few clothes I should love every item. Naturally, I wore both of them on the day we took the most pictures.
  • I didn’t need to bring the travel hairdryer. We stayed in nice hotels that provided them (although their websites didn’t specify) and I hardly used it anyway.
  • I didn’t need my rain jacket. Useful if it had rained and a necessary item when going to such a climate, but I could’ve done without. I put it on for ten minutes the one day we had a bit of sprinkle, but I quickly got too hot and ditched it.
  • I didn’t wear my hat. I considered it a couple of times, but I either didn’t have it with me or didn’t want to deal with the impact it would have on my sweaty hair. Vain? Maybe. I still managed to thwart a sunburned face.

The big snafu in my packing plan was that upon LAX check-in, I was told my carry-on suitcase was 7 pounds over the weight limit. WHAT!? How could summer clothes, two pairs of sandals, and toiletries compute to being overweight? It just so happens that China Airlines has a carry-on weight limit of 7 kg (15 lbs).  Most airlines (in my experience) don’t have such weight restrictions (only size), so I assumed China Airlines was the same. My bad. Should’ve done more advance research on that. I went ahead and checked my suitcase, as it truly wasn’t a big deal. But the plot thickens! After more than 20 hours of travel, I landed in Bangkok two days later and my suitcase wasn’t there to join me (along with those of at least a dozen others). Noooo!

Seeing as how there was nothing I could do (other than filing a report with the airline), I found my hotel transfer and got my vacation started with an hour-long foot massage while developing a plan to buy a fabulous new Thailand wardrobe. That plan was short lived when I was awakened at midnight with the happy news of being reunited with my stuff. Crisis averted.

Christmas Gifts

I was elated when my family agreed to forego Christmas gifts from me on the 25th to instead receive exotic trinkets from my trip. However, this caused me more stress than usual over getting the most awesome gifts possible. Souvenirs were no longer a little token of my travels, but an expectation of something cool enough to be considered a Christmas gift. The added challenge of my limited luggage space for the return home didn’t help, either.

I tried to not let this pressure get the best of me. My thought, time, and effort in selecting each gift is what matters. Worrying about what others will think is completely unproductive and unhealthy. I picked up a few gems (including a sterling silver elephant necklace, a wood carving, and a table runner) as well as more standard items (couple of scarves and dresses, Chiang Beer and Red Bull t-shirts) that seemed to please my crowd at home just fine.

The minimalist in me was surprised and confused at the sadness I felt upon giving away some of these gifts. They were pretty cool and I wanted to keep them for myself! I felt this much more prominently than on any former vacation. I focused on the pleasure my family expressed in receiving the items, keeping in mind that none of those physical things could ever match the experiences I lived while in Thailand.

I already miss this…


3 thoughts on “Reflections on my Thailand Trip

  1. I read your trip report. Your Thailand trip sounds like so much fun. I’ve never traveled internationally but really want to. It would be great to take long trips with my daughter. She really wants to go to Germany or Japan. Sadly my lifetime of debt keeps us from indulging in our travel dreams. It extremely disheartening. I hope I get so disheartened I find a way to obliterate that heavy debt quickly.

    It really is refreshing to hear how you don’t need to stress over travel spending and that you were able to take this impromptu trip. It’s inspirational.

    How do you deal with derealization and/or culture shock on your trips? It’s something I am anxious about when I do start traveling. Glad to have found your blog.

    1. Hi there! So glad you like the blog and that you’re inspired to travel. It took me a long time to get to this place. Ten years of paying off my student loans, then several more to build up enough of a savings fund where I can afford some international travel without it destroying my budget (and stressing me out).

      I haven’t had too much of an issue with derealization while traveling. I just try to be present (rather than stuck behind a camera) and appreciate the gift.

      Good luck in crushing that debt!

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