Backpaker Underworld, Katsjourney Around the World: 8 April, 2003

Backpacker Underworld
Date: Tue, 08 Apr 2003 02:22:42 -0500
I am sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand while

composing this newsletter.  I am at Rai Leh Beach in the Krabi Province of

southern Thailand.  The beach is about a half kilometer long made of powdery

cream colored sand.  Islands Railay Beach 4  There are towering limestone outcroppings framing

either side of the crescent shaped land.  A small monkey just came over to

say hello.  I am eating a traditional Thai breakfast of rice soup with

chicken.

I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about life (and my life) on this

earth.  I believe that everyone and everything has a place in this world or

we wouldn’t be here.  For me, that place is not Thailand.  Oddly, this

fabulously beautiful “Land of Smiles” has been my most challenging stop on

the journey.

Perhaps it is the timing.  Had this been my first stop, I think I would have

had a different attitude. Not yet weary of living out of a suitcase. Perhaps

it’s the language barrier and the frustration of not understanding and not

being completely understood.  Perhaps after traveling for so long alone, a

social being such as myself just longs for more companionship.

That brings me to the backpacker underworld.  Some of you have had little

contact with them.  Others have BEEN or ARE them.  There hundreds of

thousands of these mostly twenty-somethings around the globe.  Most of them

are from Australia, New Zealand, UK, and several parts of Europe.  They

travel for months, sometimes years, on end and find a few odd jobs along the

way when it suits them or they need to eat.  Typically they travel where it

is cheap (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Nepal, etc.).  Occasionally

you will even see an American backpacker, but usually just on summer break

through Europe.  American society is not very accepting of taking off a year

or two. I keep asking myself if that attitude will ever change.

Anyway, the island of Ko Phi-Phi (where “The Beach” was filmed) is a perfect

example of the backpacking scene.

These are mostly the people who stay in

basic huts without air con, hot water, and sometimes a shared “Asian style”

bathroom (they don’t flush).  Now this is a very cheap way to travel, but

there is often a particular lifestyle that accompanies it.  Every night is a

party.  I mean, throw down, drink and drugs all night, puking at sunrise,

“who did you bring home?”, partying.  This is the reckless abandon of the

dreadlocked, tatooed, body pierced, coming of age, Generation Y’s.  It can

be annoying. Was I ever that bad???

Needless to say, for someone looking for introspection, some intellectual

conversation and an occasional Sing-ha (Thai beer), this is not my scene.

However, I am hardly traveling with a 5-star hotel budget either.  Remember,

I have been unemployed and homeless for almost 8 months.  Where does that

leave a 40 year-old woman traveling alone in Thailand?  Smack dab in the

middle of the German-French-Swedish families and couples looking for

reasonably priced package tours out of the European winter.

I must say that experiences like these are better shared with a friend, a

lover or a family member.  But if I could do this journey again, I would.  I

have very little regrets. And I am thankful for the amazing, new, life-long

friends (mostly in South Africa and Australia) that I have met along the

way.  You know who you are!  😉

I am planning to be home within a month.  I want to use my new inner peace

and understanding (and patience?…sometimes) to make my world and your

world, a better place in time. Schmaltzy, huh?  Well that’s because I love

you guys!

Peace,

Kathleen

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