I used to have a plan.
Actually, many plans. Big, detailed, extensively-thought-out plans. However, since landing in Thailand, equipped with a surplus of time and a vague desire to ‘travel slow,’ all those plans seem so much less pressing.
Now, there just remain ideas, musings, and whims. I know where I’m staying today, but still not quite sure where I’ll be tomorrow.
What’s the point of making a schedule while you travel, of buying tickets and booking rooms, when anything could come along and make you want to change your mind?
When another traveller at my hostel in Bangkok invited me to Kanchanaburi with her, my old plans would have stopped me from going. Originally, I wanted to head north towards the archaeological cities of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, and finally spend a few days amongst the ruins.
I hadn’t really heard much of this Kanchanaburi anyways, so what interest did I have in visiting?
But then, that surplus of time came to the front of my mind. The archaeological cities would be there next week. Her invitation wouldn’t.
We left the next day. And, surprisingly, that spontaneous trip to a town I’d barely heard of provided some of the biggest adventures since I’ve been in Thailand.
We arrived in a riverside town with a beachside vibe. Our first day, we rented scooters and drove out into the countryside to visit waterfalls with scenery straight out of fantasy – dark green jungle, pale blue water, bird song and fish that nip at your toes.
Our guesthouse was directly on the River Kwai, and afternoons were spent jumping off the jetty to swim with snakeheads and glide past lily pads. We learned how to pick lotus pods from the river and break them open to get at the seeds inside.
I shacked up with a wannabe rockstar, a local with chipped black nail polish and a sweet-ass mullet, and took long drives on his motorbike to check out cave temples and coddle their soi dogs. And with the group at our guesthouse, a great big mass of nomads and locals, we spent hours on the grass, listening to guitar and trading stories and growing close only as travelling, transitory friends can – quickly, easily, fleetingly and openly.
And by night – oh, Lord – by night we caused trouble. Every night we stayed up far too late, playing pool and drinking whiskey, the great big group of us, Thai and American and Australian and English and Dutch, shutting down bars and going for 5 AM swims in the River Kwai, diving and yelling and bringing the sun up with all our stupid giddy laughter.
So, honestly, what’s the point of having all those plans, anyways?
Sometimes the towns you love, the experiences that mark you, and the biggest adventures are the ones you never see coming.