Worry's for another day
6/1/17 - 6/3/17 88 °F
On whatever day it was, I headed out with two of my friends for Koh Tao, a tiny little island north of where I was. It is also called turtle island, both because turtles used to live there in droves, and also because supposedly the island looks like a turtle. But, if we're being fair, doesn't every island technically look like a turtle? A blob, basically? A turtle shaped blob.
Anyway, I decided to splurge with some of my own money for a couple of nights and got an amazing deal on a fancy pantsy hotel up on the hill. The room miiiight have been bigger than my entire apartment in Seattle, and had a jacuzzi tub. There was an infinity pool right out the door with views of the beachfront. The tissues had little cupcakes on them and smelled like baby powder. It was basically glorious and I'm so glad I did it. I get rooms to myself every couple of weeks (mostly to do my laundry in peace), but I probably won't be able to afford a fancy hotel in a beautiful location anywhere else, so I just went for it.
Included in the room was a book about the basics of Buddhism, apparently the Buddhist version of the Gideon bible, provided for free in hotel rooms. I actually spent a lot of time reading it, and I can appreciate a lot of the things I learned. For example, in Buddhism, men and women are equally capable of spiritual merit and attainment. There is also no intention of you just accepting things blindly, the point is to question and to learn for yourself. I really liked this paragraph about taking refuge:
"Life is full of difficulties, and never free from pain or at least its possibility. Feeling unsafe and in a chronic state of lack, human beings crave a sense of safety and security. Many seek it through the adoption of a belief system or the comfort of rituals. Equally popular is the path of distraction: pursuing sense pleasures, wealth, fame, power and status. In the Buddhist view none of these strategies achieves its aim. Sensuality and worldly success cannot satisfy the deepest human needs. Faith in dogmas and ritual observances cannot provide a true refuge. As long as human beings lack clear understanding of their lives, and continue to commit unwise actions, they can never be secure."
I also liked this bit about happiness:
The Buddha taught that all living beings are born with an instinctive wish to avoid suffering and to experience happiness. The problem is that lacking wisdom, we both continually act in ways that create the conditions for suffering, and also neglect acting in ways that create the conditions for happiness. We seek happiness in things that inevitably disappoint us; we avoid things that would lead to our long-term welfare. In short, we are our own worst enemy."
I've been spending a lot of time thinking about these things in the context of myself and the people in my life. With some of the people in my life, I'm just happy to be with them, regardless of what we're doing or how it's going. I think that's a good thing, I can be pretty content to just be. I feel a certain pressure with this trip to be having SO MUCH FUN all the time, like everyone thinks that this trip should make me so happy and every moment should be blowing my mind. In truth, there are a LOT of uncomfortable and unhappy moments. And when you try to talk about these things because you're trying to learn something from them, people try to explain them away and tell you why you're not allowed to be unhappy about them. Because how dare you not appreciate this amazing thing you have. You think that getting to travel is going to bring you happiness, until you are doing it alone and at length. I do have to be fair, that the thought of working 8 to 5 right now sounds terrible, that I really did need a break from this in my life. But I've replaced it with something that for ME is almost more challenging. It's just different is all. But it's not this constant sunshine and butterflies perfection that people visualize when they think of this.
I also think about other people, people who I adore who are smiley and funny and wonderful...but who I worry about in different ways. Some people avoid things that could "lead to their long-term welfare" for sure, without an obvious reason why. Some of them accept things they maybe shouldn't, and convince themselves that they wanted those things anyway. Some people refuse to allow any happiness in their life. Some people are always looking for something more, bigger, better. None of this is my business except that I care about these people, but I still think about it. Especially when I have little else to do and I'm far away from them all.
I don't know how to transition from deep thoughts, so here are things I found in my room: a worm (I think?). A tiny lizard. A huge monster spider.
I trekked down the hill to meet my friends who were also on the island, and we went and got lunch at a place called the Blue Chair. The chairs were indeed blue. After lunch we walked out to a viewpoint (Nang Yuan Terrace) where you can see these tiny little islands. Basically you pay a fee to have access to a restaurant that has the viewpoint, but at least you get a free soda out of it.
After this my friends snagged a taxi and we said our goodbyes. It was so nice to spend a few days with the same people and have them with me for my travels. Back to the solo life... *sigh*
Also, let it be known that on this day (whatever day it was), I paid 18 freaking dollars for a 3 oz bottle of sunscreen, the cheapest that the pharmacy had. I've found the one place on earth where it's a disadvantage to be white. Seems fair.
I also grabbed some sort of delicious blueberry bread looking item and trudged my way back up the hill to my hotel. They would have called me a taxi for 150 baht, but I didn't see the point of this since I was going to take a cold shower when I arrived either way. That night I swam in the infinity pool, watched the gorgeous sunset, read a book, took a bath with a cup of tea and some netflix, watched some silly cartoons I didn't understand, and packed up my things.
The next morning I woke up naturally at about 5 AM, and slowly got moving. I had discovered a viewpoint called Fraggle Rock (!!) on a small map in a random guidebook, and was determined to go visit before I left the island. I was out the door by 6 and trekking my way up the steep hills while the island slept. Turns out, Fraggle Rock is literally a giant boulder, and the views at the top are amazing. You can see both sides of the island, and it was around this time I remembered my struggles with vertigo. I spent some time soaking it all in alone before heading back. I did not see any doozers, but I did see lots of squirrels that I assumed were giant rabid monkeys every time they moved a branch near me. I'm not so good at hiking alone, it turns out.
Now back to my regularly scheduled budget.
Let the music play.