by In Wales
Wed May 30th, 2007 at 05:36:54 AM EST
When I was little, my world revolved around 'looking for adventures' as I put it. I could spell 'adventurous' when I was 4, and loved to wander, climb, jump, roll and explore everything around me.
I've not changed much, so I went off in search of adventures in Thailand and found plenty. I was expecting certain challenges, but a fair few took me by surprise as well.
I suppose this is just my account of navigating my way through some of the challenges, rather than a diary on Thailand itself as such.
From the diaries with an edit - afew
Click to enlarge
As ET regulars know, I was born deaf. It's not something that I allow to control my choices or the way I live my life, but it does require me to adapt, and bend and compromise from time to time.
In my day to day life I forget how differently I do some things or how I've made adjustments, because that is my norm now.
Travelling really brings out the 'issues'.
Let's start with packing. I needed to take with me, spare batteries, a spare hearing aid, spare mold, spare tubing, plastic bags to keep things waterproof. I suppose that is similar to anyone who needs to take a supply of medication with them when they travel. The thought of losing or breaking my hearing aid is fairly horrible.
Then there is the time old issue of meeting new people. Especially meeting new people from across the world with a whole host of accents to get used to.
I travelled with a tour group called imaginative travellers and I would well recommend them. They had excellent guides and gave us really good introductions to the local cultures, food, money, shopping, where to visit etc etc. Between 15 of us, there were 9 different nationalities, a fantastic mix of people.
No easy task to keep up with conversation though. Mix accents, with often being sat in places that were poor for lipreading - eating at night by candlelight, or being sat in the back of an open backed taxi, throwing us all around.
I missed plenty of conversation, jokes and more importantly, instructions.
Which caused a fair amount of stress. In the main I'm a very laid back person but as soon as I don't know what is going on around me (the distinction being needing to know because I have to do something) it stresses me right out.
We moved frequently between cities, towns, places... so keeping track of what was going on and what I needed to do for it was far more stressful than I had expected. I hate relying on others to fill in the gaps for me, but it is easy for people to forget that just because they've shouted something across the room to the group, it doesn't mean that I've even been aware of it, let alone heard it.
Being aware of my own reactions to that type of stress, and trying to handle it effectively without crying (which I only did once) or annoying other people with endless questions (which I probably did a few times) was a challenge.
Other key challenges came with the fact that we spent a lot of time in or around water, or generally getting a drenching. I spent the best part of the second week with a soggy bottom from swimming, or getting my clothes soaked by rain or boat spray and not drying off in time for the next soaking.
My fierce protection of my camera usefully extended to protecting my hearing aid. I kept a plastic bag in my pocket and backpack to wrap the technology up in. But it did also mean periods of time without my hearing aid in. A totally silent world around me.
That stressed me out at first too. And then I realised it was giving me another way of looking at the world. A slightly different experience of my surroundings. I went tubing down a river with the sound switched off. Once I relaxed, I loved it. I wasn't missing anything, I gained. When I stop trying to listen to all these things I can't hear properly anyway, I see more, I feel more, I absorb the experience in a different way. Plus it served as a useful reminder that I don't gain all that much more from using my hearing aid and it is more a comfort factor of having some sound. I trick myself into thinking I need it to get by.
So there was a challenge well overcome. I'm less bothered about not having my hearing aid in. I can go rafting down the river, swimming in lakes and in the sea, get drenched walking through the jungle in torrential rain and still join in with what everyone else is doing. A leisurely hour of bamboo rafting down the river, hitting mini rapids and not quite falling into the river (although I nearly did), soaking up the warm air, sun and the lush green of the jungle around me just made me so content, so appreciative of being there to experience a part of the world so different from my own.
In the midst of all that, I suddenly realised that I'm not afraid of deep water anymore. I've never been much of a swimmer but I learnt how to dive. I jumped off the edge into those warm green lakes. And I wasn't afraid of it. I even jumped off our moored boat to go swimming in the pitch black of a bat cave, a limestone cave set into the hill of a small island, whilst the rain poured down outside.
I threw myself into everything, ummed and ahhed a little at times about how best to approach each activity but, I won all the challenges, including the unexpected ones.
I went off by myself one day and found myself as part of another small group to go rock climbing in Krabi. I followed the instructions, and trusted myself with doing the harness and the knots in the rope, and worked my way up the cliffs (I've never rock climbed before), vaguely aware of the guides shouting my name and telling me where to put my hands and feet. Me shouting back, "Put what, where?"
I went out, met new people, chatted to them and found out more about their countries, their lives, their cultures, likes and dislikes. I played pool badly and still somehow won, drank shots, laughed and danced and was just as much as part of everything as anyone else.
Sometimes it is very, very easy to hide. To say 'No, I can't face it'. The overwhelming urge to run to a safe place to avoid the challenges and the huge expenditure of energy that is required with navigating all of these winding, turbulent paths when everyone else seems to be leisurely strolling through life...
But then I'd miss out on all of this. I'd miss out on living my life, and feeling that huge sense of achievement when I knock another one down and stomp right over it. Another adventure to throw myself at.
That great feeling of being utterly content, standing in the sunshine with my feet sinking into soft sand as the warm water laps over them, a breeze cutting through the thick, humid air as I admire the vibrant colours and stunning views that surround me. I wouldn't miss that for anything.