I published my story about many failures here, about 2 months back. And I was totally amazed by the kind of response it received. I promised you that I’ll soon share my Thailand-experience and this is exactly about that. So, let’s get to it.
Chapter 1 – The idea and preparation
I wasn’t really in a good space after my VISA application to Berlin had been refused twice. Right after that, I took a week off and visited my family back in Vapi, Gujarat. After returning back to Mumbai, I was looking for something new and exciting. Something that would re-energise me.
One fine evening, I messaged Nishchal to check the status on his current itinerary and to see if he had any open slots. Nishchal runs a travel-based startup called The Remote Life (TRL). These guys have a pretty interesting concept. They make you travel the world and work remotely.
To explain it in brief, TRL plans itineraries throughout the year to different locations around the world. At the time I had messaged Nishchal, they were in Thailand and were going to be there for the month of May. They had already been to Cambodia for the month of April and were travelling to Indonesia for June. The idea is to plan monthly trips to different locations and onboard travellers as per their preferences.
TRL charges you a specified fee for your trip with them. Mine was INR 50k for 15 days in Thailand. To answer the obvious question – What does our package include? TRL provides you with the VISA (goddamn VISA), accommodation (preference based), access to a co-working space, food, local guide, airport transfers (flight tickets not included) and an exclusive access to their community of travellers and digital nomads.
I find this perfect for first-time budget travellers and people who work remotely. No need to go through the hassle of loads of research and making separate bookings, pay at one source and be assured that your work won’t get affected. TRL team and Nishchal and Nitin Pratap in particular played a huge role in making this trip memorable for me. So, a huge shoutout to them.
Chapter 2 – Koh Lanta, the not-so touristy island
Koh Lanta is a small island with coral-fringed beaches in the Krabi Province of Thailand. One has to get down at the Krabi airport and then take a car/cab and then cross the sea on a ferry to get to this beautiful island of Koh Lanta. Or get down at Phuket and follow the same route, but it takes like 4-5 hours more as compared to that of Krabi.
Koh Lanta is a comparatively remote place and isn’t much exploited by the regular tourists as compared to other hotspots in Thailand. I refer to it as Goa, but 10x better version of it. Now, if you’ve known me for some good time, you already know that this is exactly the kind of place I had like to spend most of my time at.
By not being the touristy place, Koh Lanta automatically becomes a favorite hotspot for digital nomads. White people visit Koh Lanta and remain there for around 3 months since they enjoy a VISA-free travel in Thailand for a period of 3 months. Asian, Brown and Black people would remain there for a month’s time depending upon their VISA scenes. As for me, I was there for 15 days before I took a short trip to Phuket and Bangkok.
I was staying at this nice little apartment called Pra-Ae Lanta and was working out of this amazing co-working space called KoHub. It’s pleasantly surprising how KoHub operates on its own with no to little involvement from its owner. This place is all about its diverse community of independent workers, creatives, remote workers, digital nomads and more…
At KoHub, they had this thing called weekly schedule. The team there comes up with a weekly schedule of communal dinners, local activities, happy hours and more… Most of the individuals there are solo travellers or a couple, so it makes great sense to be able to find company through KoHub’s weekly schedule.
My idea of the stay was completely sorted. I worked on my client/personal projects during the day, joined KoHubbers and made a lot of new friends from all around the world during the dinners and explored the island on the weekends. One can easily rent a scooter there and just wander around the island. Believe me, the island has a lot to offer. You don’t? Just take a look at my recent pictures on Instagram and see it for yourself.
By the way, while I was there in Koh Lanta, I also took a day trip to 4 Islands where I did snorkelingfor the first time in my life and buoy, I absolutely enjoyed it.
The key takeaways from Koh Lanta? I had say the friends that I made and their surprising, shocking, courageous, unusual, heart-touching, overwhelming, nerve-breaking (OMG! I’m running out of adjectives) stories.
I can’t possibly tell them all in 1 post here, but I’m extremely humbled by it and would be carrying the learnings from it through all my life. Sometimes (Many times these days), I really pity the conservative environment we’ve in India that erodes the thinking of individuals. Being a frog of the well and living in our own so-called small world is just not going to do us any good.
We need to travel, explore, fail, succeed and reflect upon our learnings. That’s the only way forward.
Chapter 3 – Phuket, the touristy island
Out of my 22 days in Thailand, I had reserved 7 of those for a complete vacation. Now, remember that my package with TRL was only for 15 days in Koh Lanta, I had to be on my own for the next 7 days. With a little advice and guidance from my newly-made friends in Koh Lanta, I booked myself a shared taxi to Phuket, which again involved crossing the sea on a ferry.
I had booked a Hostel in Phuket via Agoda.com. This was really cheap and turned out to be smoother than I had expected. I had to only pay INR 440 for 2 nights and 3 days here and again I made 2 new friends from Italy and France. Hostels are truly amazing, just a little focused search on these hostel sites could get you a real steal deal and a pleasant experience.
During my time here, I visited the beautiful Kata-Karon beach with my mate, Ross (from California, US), whom I became really good friends with in Koh Lanta. We also went to a cashew-nut factory and had delicious donuts at a local eatery. My time in Phuket turned out to be very pleasing because of Ross and this hostel-mate of mine, who was from Italy.
Oh! I also visited the infamous Go-Go Bars of Thailand while I was in Phuket. It’s a place of contradicting views, but to be honest, I enjoyed being there as well. Yes, I went there alone and No, I wasn’t scared. Because I had done my homework, all thanks to Uncle Google and this blog about Thailand and its colorful highlights.
It was a short stay here, I was already off to Bangkok on the third day. My mate, Ross parted ways with me here and continued his travel to Bali, Indonesia.
Chapter 4 – Bangkok, the super touristy city
I arrived in Bangkok towards the end of my month-long travel. Just like every other country and their different states, Bangkok is way different than Phuket and Koh Lanta. People of Koh Lanta were very welcoming and it felt very safe and calm there, but the very day I arrived here, I was warned by this good dude to be cautious and alert here.
Bangkok was all about people trying to sell you things, massage parlours at every street, fancy tourist trips and boom-boom (Yes, you guessed it right).
I was again staying in a hostel here, this was slightly expensive than that in Phuket, but a good one none-the-less. I made a couple more friends here from Vietnam, England and Philippines. I commuted via Sky Train, visited the riverfront, went to the night markets and did some shopping for my family and friends back home.
As you must have noticed, the trip started with a blast and downgraded as it progressed. That said, every experience was unique to its nature, at last, it all boils down to personal preferences. So, nothing really is a bad experience, until you learn something out of it.
Chapter 5 – The return and reflections
Till the time I returned back from Thailand, I was done with my current project at hand and was excited to work on what comes next. I was no more dwelling upon my past. My solo trip to Thailand had opened my eyes to the world of remote workers and digital nomads.
The stories, experiences and learnings from my trip gave me a different perspective to life. It taught me that everyone is miserable in their own ways, but the world is a canvas for those who get over it and gather the courage to create. Create without the fear of failure.
Come what may, I’m ready to live it and confident enough of my capability to handle it, with care.
Cut to present day, I’m just back from my 10-day trip to Dubai, UAE. And how did that happen? That’s a story for another blog post. Till then, stay courageous my friend. Open your eyes to this big bright world out there and start creating. It’s not really important how you start, what’s important is that you ‘START’.
See you around 🙂