Days Off

Ayutthaya, Thailand

Today I took the day off from traveling. I ate breakfast at the hotel, called friends and family, spent a few hours catching up with people I care about and just talking through my experiences so far. I went and saw exactly zero tourist sights.

When you’re traveling for long stretches, it’s important to remember that you get days off — time to rest, relax, do not much of anything. I’m sunburned, my legs are a bit sore from lots of cycling, I’m a little bit losing my voice. I’ve been running pretty full-tilt since I got to Asia, and it felt good to take a day just to relax as I might at home.

In the afternoon I went down to the pool, chatted for a while with a German guy (named Stefan, inevitably) and an English couple with a two-year-old, and then I befriended a French Swiss guy who met up with me for dinner. We watched a tremendous thunderstorm together, then went out for a walk around the block, found the local department store, and bought ourselves cycling shirts for 99 baht. Then we sat out at a cafe and listened to some aging Thai rockers bang out classic rock covers — “Sultans of Swing,” “Hotel California,” “Cocaine” — with middling competence while we drank fruit shakes. It was nice. It was easy. I didn’t really have to try very hard.

Traveling for months can get lonely, but I am starting to adjust to the reality of what travel is like now, rather than hanging on to old ideas from my distant past. First of all, I’m just a lot more mature than I was when I traveled in India years ago — more comfortable with myself alone, and also more comfortable talking to strangers. Second, technology has put my friends and family much closer than they were, and I am starting to make use of it.

I had a good day off. Tomorrow I’m headed to my next destination, Lopburi, city of monkeys!