Local public bus in Thailand from Takua pa to Kuraburi General

Goodbye Thailand

Goodbye everything i know to be familiar. My first time in Thailand was in 2013. I remember a shop lady teaching me how to pronounce thank you. I remember breathtakingly cute and cheap earrings in Chinatown, Bangkok. I remember taking a night train down to the south and waking up to sweet coffee. I remember the first deep breath of ocean air and the first time i was on a longtail boat. The first time seeing a pineapple grow on the ground. Or a banana tree. Or a coconut falling down.

It’s so funny how we lose our sense of wonder. And get used to things so quickly. Or get distracted and focused on other stuff so we just don’t notice things the same way anymore. I have been in Thailand about eight months of my life if i count it all together. So, already, when i wake up on a Wednesday morning to see a coconut palm and a green jungle river from my window, it feels so normal it’s almost scary.

A man and his boat in Kuraburi Thailand
A man and his boat on Kuraburi river yesterday morning

Helen from Journal With Purpose told how she and her partner spent a weekend acting to be tourists in their own hometown. I love the idea. To mindfully open your senses to the familiar and suddenly you can see so much more. All the little things you haven’t noticed before and all the big things you thought to be so normal, familiar, even boring by now. So i told myself this: when i wake up to find myself bored of yet another place, i will open up my eyes and look at it with a childlike wonder. With a mind of a tourist who has just arrived.

Tomorrow i will be gone

Anyway… With Thailand, i do not need to do this right now. I have a relationship with Thailand that feels easy, safe, comfortable, familiar, homely and sometimes even a little bit annoying. So when i think about flying out tomorrow, it feels like leaving home all over again. Because i am leaving the surroundings i am so comfortable with, the culture i’ve became familiar with, the language in which i can order myself vegan food anywhere i go, the people i have gotten to know, the knowledge of how much a kilo of mangosteens should cost. I’m leaving behind the knowledge of public transport, the knowledge of cultural etiquette, the prices, even my boyfriend. Everything.

Public bus from Takua pa to Kuraburi, Thailand
Trying to write in the public bus on the way to Kuraburi

And right now it’s setting my soul on fire. Everything feels so alive. I am sitting in my comfortable hotel bed, surrounded by white sheets, and i feel like i hear everything. The local men sitting outside having breakfast soup. The motorbikes going by. Birds singing on the rooftop across the street. Thai music from a local eatery nearby. I feel like i see everything. I feel like.. I feel everything.

It kind of feels like waking up from a deep sleep. Being born again. Starting fresh. This is the beginning of something entirely new. And i am not terrified anymore. I am welcoming whatever comes from the unknown. Allowing the unfamiliarity to come. Allowing it to change to something familiar one day. A routine, a safe space awaits me in Rishikesh. I am ready to go.

Evening barbecue in thailand Journaling

New rules

I made new rules because I tend to be all over the place. One piece in the past, one in the future, a half of a piece maybe here. And my thoughts in every single thing i should be handling. I don’t realize i don’t need to do it all right now. I don’t realize i can really do only one thing at a time. And to do it properly i need to give it my attention. I know i need to pack, i need to do laundry, i need to e-mail my hotel in Delhi, i need to contact the girls coming to the same flight as me, i need to eat lunch, i need to stretch, i need to make a shopping list for Phuket, i need to drink water, i need to dry my yoga mat, i need to walk the dogs. That’s what i know. But what i usually don’t realize is that i’m not going to do it all at one, right now.

So i made new rules that i want to remember. To simplify life and to simplify the doing. So i would not be all over the place. My mind needs to be here, focusing on one thing at the time.

Journal page about slowing down

Do one thing at a time. And this means really one thing. If i am drinking coffee, i am drinking coffee. I want to taste the coffee. When i am walking, i want to make every step as important as the one i arrive with.

Do it slowly. Everything will be accomplished.

Put your mind into the doing. So that i know that what i am doing right now is the most important thing i am doing. So that i know whatever i will do, i will do it well and focused. Even if it is eating lunch.

Do not judge if you don’t know. And even if you do, don’t. “That guy is strange. What’s wrong with him. Why is he like that?” I notice myself thinking sometimes. But the thing is, i will not never know his story. Or her story. It is not my place to judge and critique how someone else is. Because it really, really doesn’t have anything to do with me.

Notice your breath. It’s the link to this moment.

A page in my midori traveler's notebook

Be there when talking to someone. I want to really be talking to them, and listening to them – not glancing over their shoulder or on my phone or waiting for the conversation to be over. Genuine connection. Genuine communication. Give the people your full attention.

It’s OK to feel things. It’s ok to be hurt, to be sensitive, to feel tired, to erase yourself from the situation, to be weak, to be angry, to be anxious. It’s ok to feel them. Be there and feel it. Don’t suffocate them. Let them be. Then let them go.

Drop everything that is pulling you down. It doesn’t matter what it is. People. Situations. Overthinking. PMS. The past. The future. If it doesn’t serve you, drop it. Just drop it. Like a heavy baggage.

Anything concerning other people is really, really none of your business. Why am i letting myself thinking mean things about people, why am i judging them for acting a certain way that does not appeal to me – they are not in this world to act so that would be pleased and happy. Because again, really – it doesn’t have anything to do with me if someone has big fake boobs or if someone acts a certain way. It doesn’t have anything to do with me if someone is too loud or too quiet or doesn’t very much like tofu. Other people are none of my business.

Midori Traveler's notebook spread

A dog on the earth, Thailand Life thoughts

This earth is your home

Sometimes I feel so small in front of this earth. Powerless when the thunder shakes the trees in the garden. I feel so tiny in front of volcanoes that steam and glow in the night. So vulnerable walking on the ground that lives and moves. Knowing that anything could wipe me out at any second. Knowing how nature will always win in the end.

A beautiful morning mist in Thailand

Some days i carry the pain of the world so heavily my brain cannot take it. The other day my mind shut down and i spend the day in bed. The next day i woke up and faced the world again with a clearer heart. I wanted to kidnap all the trucks on their way to slaughterhouses, i wanted to stop all the men in suits who care about nothing but making more money, i wanted to stop the whole world full of people and shake them, to tell everyone to take a really big step back and have a look what’s going on. But I realized the pain is not for me to carry. The world is not for me to change.

But still, i feel so responsible. Not just by what i do to be responsible, but also the way i think. I get my energy from the nature, from the big old trees i walk by, the ground i caress with my bare feet, every nourishing plant i eat. I feel responsible on giving back to this earth. Every day i thank her for existing and nourishing me, for letting me exist in it. I love her endlessly, the drops of water falling down, the thunder that makes me cover my ears, the ants that bite me in the dark of the night, every new green leaf that grows and every old one that drops.

A huge June mushroom

I want to spend time with her and tap into her rhythm, welcome each day and appreciate the abundance of care she offers me. I want to remember to appreciate every step in the forest. Or in the jungle. And to remember what a wonder it is; this mushroom grows here, from the earth. Or this fruit. I can pick it and eat it, and it provides me with energy and nutrients. It’s a miraculous thing, really. And miraculous how often we forget this. To be thankful.

Wild herbs collected from the earth, finland

Hammock time relaxing and doing nothing in Cambodia Life thoughts

There is beauty in doing nothing

When was the last time you did nothing, purposefully? I don’t mean waiting in lines or the doctor’s office, or being stuck in the traffic or standing in the bus station. But doing nothing without checking your phone, without waiting, without reading books or magazines – just nothing.

We are taught from a young age that doing nothing is bad. It’s lazy, it’s not beneficial, it’s something to be ashamed of. And it results in us as expectations for ourselves, as doing too much and not getting rest. It pressures us to do more, to get more results, to do and do and do our best all the time. Because doing nothing is bad, right?

Cats chilling and doing nothing in a spirit house, Thailand
I don’t know anyone who is better at doing nothing than cats.

But doing nothing results in doing more.

I got this thought first time about three years ago. I woke up and my first thought was “today I will get something done”. When I opened my eyes, I saw a white mosquito net, heard the distant waves caressing the beach and the morning crickets starting their concert slowly but steadily. I was on a remote island with no wifi, no electricity and almost literally nothing to do. I was shocked to see how much my carefully trained mind wanted to do something. To get something done. Something that will bring results. And I did not even know what it was – just something. Even on a remote island where I came to relax, I felt it was not okay to just be.

I spent there six weeks practicing on doing nothing. At first I was almost desperate. The hardest part was trying to convince myself that it’s ok to not do anything. I am the only one judging myself. I told myself over and over again: I am here to do nothing, I do not need to get anything done, I don’t even have anything to get done – I have nothing and I need to do nothing. My body was restless and I wanted to do beneficial things, something, something.. Just something.

Palm trees in Koh Tonsay Cambodia

And then it changed. My mind was suddenly bursting with ideas and creativity. I was writing from morning until the darkness fell. Went to bed at seven and woke up at five. Suddenly I felt like I have everything I need. I was freed of the haunting feeling of wanting to be important and successful and productive. The productivity appeared by itself and I started having a blissful feeling of joy in every single moment.

All this slowly disappeared when I left the island. Six months later I was in Bali and joined a restorative yoga class. I lifted my legs up on a bolster, closed my eyes and listened to the relaxing music and thought to myself: why do I need to take a yoga class like this to let myself be? Why do I need an excuse for doing nothing? Why do I need a permission for it?

A stunning sunset in Flores, Indonesia

The philosophy of doing nothing

Recently my boyfriend told me about a thing called wu wei. It is one of the most important concepts of Taoism. It is literally meaning non-action or non-doing – or the paradoxical action of doing nothing. I was instantly fascinated about this and remembered my time on the island. How doing nothing helped me to do so much. Never in my life I had had so much ideas, so many words pouring on to the paper. The result of doing nothing was one of the most creative times in my life so far.

And still, I fight with this. It is in our culture to be productive and get something done and work hard. You do nothing and instantly feel lazy. I have heard people judging someone who works in a grocery store for going to take a break so that the customers saw them going. I was forbidden to enjoy my lunch where customers could see me taking a break when I was working at Subway. We admire people who do many things at the same time and we praise people who work a lot without breaks and vacations. Ambition is the most important and respected trait we can have. We are allowed to rest without judgement only when we burn out – and even then, we feel the pressure to get back to work quickly instead of healing ourselves first.

Sitting by the river with bananas
One day when we were sitting by the river doing nothing, local kids joined us to do the nothing.

I have ambition. I have so much ambition to learn to let myself be. To let myself do nothing. Ambition to silence that “do something!” repeating in my head over and over again when I sit down to relax. I want to learn the mindset of the thai woman who was sleeping on her desk when we went to check in to our hostel. “Hahaha sorry I was relaxing”, she said. No worries, we answered – I respect this more than all of the bosses who breathe on their employees neck even when all the work is done.

Challenge yourself to do nothing today. See how long you can take before your mind starts telling you to make the bed, to do the dishes, to prepare food, to exercise, to study, to check e-mails, to work, to distract your nothing with something.

A thai buddhist prayer time