09-04-2015 Ton Sai, Thailand
Its hard to describe how blessed I feel. This lifestyle is really something different from my lifestyle when I was still working at the bank in Holland. This is what I’m used to now and I think it would be really hard for me to fit in the life I had back then. I noticed really soon in my travels that the island life is really something that suits me. The beach and the blue ocean, the tranquility, not a lot to worry about and just go with the flow of the day. Here in Ton Sai, Thailand I start my days with yoga, followed by breakfast (or more brunch), relax a bit, lay in my hammock on the beach, hang out with friends, make some art, practice some circus-stuff like juggling, slack lining etc. go hiking or rent a kayak.
Ton Sai is beautiful. A nice little bay surrounded by the most mesmerizing mountains and rocks and I found a new passion here; Rock-Climbing! I never thought I would love it this much. I like to challenge myself, I like being active, to use my body, measure my strength, balance and flexibility. I love being in nature and feel the power of the elements. That’s one of the reasons why I also love surfing so much. Water is the most powerful element there is. But now I fell in love with the element earth, with rocks, with mountains. Mountains are really powerful as well, not moving like water, but hard, solid, sharp and strong with beautiful colors, shapes and depth. Climbing is very technical, you need to be balanced and you learn quick enough to use your legs the most instead of only your arms. My second climb of the first day I slipped because my for arms were just exhausted because I used them too much and my legs not enough. The first time I fell, my heart made a little jump and I lost my breath for a moment, but that didn’t last long. The take is a wonderful feeling. It teaches you that you can trust the equipment and the belayer so you don’t have to be scared to fall. That was also the moment where I got more respect for the rocks. They don’t catch me as soft as the water in the sea does when I get wiped out with surfing, but the sea throws me around after a fall and teaches me to have patients before I can catch my breath and try again. The rock is hard, bruises my body, but then just stays there and waits patiently for me so I can climb again when I am ready. A new passion. Another passion, but also a new way to relax, meditate and a way to improve myself in multiple ways. I am happy I found this amazing place and I know I came here for a reason.
This lifestyle of a traveler is not for everybody I guess. A lot of people think I am on a continues holiday, because I post these nice pictures on Facebook. Of course it feels a lot like a permanent holiday, especially how I spend my days here in Ton Sai, as I just described. I am blessed to be in amazing places in the world, with tropical beaches, coconuts, tropical fruit and amazing food but most of all I am blessed to meet all this inspiring, beautiful people. Although I don’t live a luxurious life. When I came to Ton Sai I stayed in a small bungalow with nothing else but a bed. No electricity, no running water. Just what I was looking for. The bungalow was high up a mountain in the middle of the jungle. It was quite a walk to get there, but waking up in the morning with the sounds of jungle was totally worth the effort. I was really sad that I had to leave the bungalow and move in a new place in Ton Sai, but I had a good reason. Monkeys. A lot of monkeys who completely took over the area. It started innocent with just a little bit of nosing around in the open bungalows in a search for food. They were not impressed by me trying to scare them away. Two monkeys tried to get in my place while I was in there and when they didn’t leave when I was trying to scare them away with a towel so I freaked out and opened the door to go outside but there he was. This big monkey on my porch making holes in a plastic bag with his human like fingers, pulled out my jar of raw honey from Vietnam and looked at me like he was saying ‘where do you think you’re going?’ I closed the door quickly and the two other monkeys went out luckily. After a while I went back out and since they didn’t try to come in again that morning I thought it was over. They have my honey, the only food I had left, so why would they come in again? Wrong thought.
I woke up one day with not only the sounds of the jungle, the jungle was in my room. I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was this big monkey staring at me. He was hanging above my bed and kept on staring even when I was awake and I made a little sound of surprise and maybe a little fear. After a couple of minutes he left, but with an expression on his face as if he thought; ‘I’ll be back’. And so he did. It was on a day I was climbing and left early in the morning to avoid the heat. I came back in the afternoon, sweating from head to toe because of the climbing, but maybe more from my walk up the mountain and the million steps of the stairs to my bungalow. I think the monkey brought his whole monkey family when I was out and they had a big party in my bungalow and left one big mess. They ripped my mosquito net apart, opened my bags with clothes and my toiletries. Everything was spread all over the place and my bed was full of monkey pee, poo, sand and creams and shampoo. They threw my little backpack on the floor and tried to open it. Luckily without success, but my iPhone which was in there didn’t completely survived the crash. It still works, but the glass is broken. That was it. How much I loved the place and how less I care about things anymore, this is not a sustainable situation, so I decided to move. Monkeys 1 – Gwen 0.
One day later someone stole my flip flops, so I’m walking barefoot everyday again, just like I did in Koh Lanta. I love walking barefoot though, but sometimes it’s a bit inconvenient and painful because there are a lot of little stones and rocks here and my feet are always dirty. Still I love it, it helps me to ground to earth. The monkeys and the flip flop thief reminded me of the art of letting go. There are not many material things I need in life to be happy and be satisfied. Less is more. Stuff, things are a burden. If I buy something new, it means I have to carry it around in my backpack. So if you look at it like that, I really learn the value of asking myself the question; ‘Do I really need this?’. I said yes to a nice baby-blue cotton hammock, but no to a new t-shirt, just because I am tired of wearing the same thing everyday. Instead of that I made myself two new tops from one tank top I already had.
So the people who envy me for my ‘permanent holiday’, it’s a choice which everybody can make. If you’re ready to live without luxury, ready to ‘survive’, with a small budget, dirty feet, dirty toilets and showers with cold water, sharing a room with insects, gekko’s and spiders and maybe even monkeys, but most of all, letting go of stuff, you can live in paradise as well. Wearing the same clothes everyday, always covered in sand and a thousand mosquito-bites a day. For me its all worth it. I love the adventure, I love the basic lifestyle. Especially in the jungle and on the beach. It takes a bit of courage to make a choice like that but for me the decision to go traveling is the best decision I have ever made in my life.
I still don’t know what is next, or what I want to do when I run out of money, but I am learning everyday so much about life and what is really important, so I think that is enough for now. Opportunities present themselves all the time, so when its necessary and I believe I can manifest a way to keep me going. It’s all about believing in myself and trusting my guts. For now I’m going to continue exploring the extremes and find the middle way, the balance. From drinking champaign on a rooftop of a skyscraper in Singapore to camping in a hammock in the jungle. From raw-vegan yoga-retreat in Philippines to partying in the full moon in Thailand. From wealthy banker to poor hippie. I will find the balance of life. And I am enjoying every step of the way, every minute of every day.