10 Things a City Girl needs to know before Facing the
Big (Bad) Backpacking World
I have been living in Thailand for exactly one month – And there’s a few things I’ve learnt that they don’t teach you at backpacker school. Though it doesn’t take long to find these things out for yourself, I thought I would be a gem and share them with you – Not to scare you, but to prepare you (especially if your a city girl like me) to be ready to face the big (bad) backpacking world….
1. You will get sick
On our second week of arriving in Thailand – I came down with the most awful sickness I think i have ever experienced in my whole life! We had arrived at the most beautiful beach Than Sadet, yet i was so sick, i ended up bed ridden for most of it. It started as a cough which went for a few days, before i was overtaken by insane fevers, sweats as well as dizziness when I stood up, so much so that i was unable to do anything but lie in bed! It was awful! I seriously thought I had the dengue fever, and spent most my time talking about “the dengue” like it was the grim reaper who had come to take me away. Not only this but my mum on the phone brought up “Zika virus” where your future children are born deformed, this just helped the case even more (just for the record mum, this is one is mainly found in South america!) – I really did feel like death. We were a 40min car ride from any doctors or chemists so my lovely Shaun ended up going in to town and back (a 4 hour mission with the taxi drop off/ pick up service) and explaining to someone who did not speak English my symptoms – He came back with 2 different cough mixtures, cold tablets, and these weird brown tablets which he was told i need to take 16 tablets per day. Well i did and they worked. The chemist drugs over here are good. I am not dead and still here to tell the story.
In this brief month we have been over here we have also experienced travel sickness (on crazy boats and overnight trains), a bed bugs scare (which ended up being sea lice), travellers belly (seems to be a constant thing), a broken toe (nearly), sore throats, cuts up and down our feet and legs, violent food poisoning which ended us up hospital, and just the general sunburn from not enough banana boat!
You can get all kinds of things when travelling, you didn’t even know existed!
Be prepared – With a First aid kit ( gastro- stop/ cold & flu / travel sick tablets / bandaids/ bandages incase, ibuprofen…)
2. Your gonna get dirty
Not gonna put any icing on this one – You will get dirty when you travel! I have never thought of myself as much of a clean freak – Til arriving here! From the first few days of walking around Bangkok in Havaiana thongs – And coming back to the hotel room with black feet (don’t know how shaun’s feet stayed so clean!), or walking in puddles of other peoples urine if you end up needing the loo on a 3 hour ferry ride between islands, or just the general – you can’t touch anything because EVERYTHING IS DIRTY! I now feel like i have OCD – But think i need to suck it up and after time, things will just become everyday life! (i hope!) You ARE gonna get dirty.
Your new best friend – Hand sanitiser
3. Your Perfume will be replaced by a stench of bug spray
Your perfume WILL be replaced with a stench of bug spray! I remember being so excited being given perfume for Chrissy before we came over here (thanks Mel!) We’d been saving for the trip, so it was on the not necessary list to buy myself before we came – So this was a very exciting gift to receive! Im STILL loving my perfume, but a lot of the time its overpowered with the lovely smell of insect repellent! There are things over here you don’t want to catch, so keep covered up and insect spray on! (Malaria, or see previous rant on Dengue fever!)
Your new best friend – Bug Spray (get one that is tropical strength, or has Deet in it)
4. You will have to learn to squat when you pee
Its not everywhere you go – But there are a lot of places that don’t have a western toilet especially the actual travelling parts going between place to place – Things are gonna get real! Before you head out on a trip i suggest getting fit in the upper thigh region, practicing more of Malasana (squat post in Yoga), or getting twerk lessons of Miley cyrus, coz damn its not fun at all! Carry toilet paper with you always, as there is not always some there – Keep in mind there is no flushing of toilet paper in most places as their systems don’t take it. Then there’s the whole hose thing here too, which hasn’t been given a shot by either of us. We did try looking up the whole going to the toilet over here thing on You Tube, and it still gets confusing!
Always carry toilet paper, hand sanitiser and some coins – Most public toilets over here cost 10Baht to use.
5. Don’t expect a hot shower
Don’t expect a hot shower! Hot water is now a distant memory! In the entire month we have been here we have had exactly 2 hot showers. It hasn’t been such a bad thing, as it is so hot over here – So the cold showers are actually refreshing. But if staying in budget or average accomodation – Just realise the showers are cold. And a lot of the time, the islands just don’t have hot water at all – Just not an option! Enjoy!
6. You could be in danger of becoming a DAY person instead of a NIGHT person
It may be that I’ve just turned 30, who knows – But I’m just not holding up as much of a party animal as I used to be! 2 drinks (if any) and I’m either falling over, or falling asleep. Backpacking, the days are constantly full of so many awesome things to do, by the end of the day, you are normally plastered! For someone that has been a night owl most my life, this is very strange, but something Im learning to accept – Maybe Im turning, who knows?
Note: The Red Bull over here is pretty amazing, or take the chance (like me) to sneak off for early bedtimes!
7. You won’t get the chance to use your hair dryer, hair straightener, nail polish,
or hair extensions.
Being the usual city girl – Of course travelling wth the essentials my hair dryer, hair straightener, nail polish and a few hair extensions (shhh don’t tell Shaun). None of these have yet been used. I have used my hair dryer once only. There is simply less time for the usual girly nonsense – And if at the beach you will be swimming most the day / night / and basically sleeping underwater, so to pretty your hair up is just something beautiful you used to do! Sometimes it will be a choice between prettying yourself up, or missing out on some fire twirling on the beach, or the sunset…Just not worth it!
But – Look what i DID find over here!! :
8. Everything takes longer than usual
Travel is not easy. Everything takes a lot longer than usual if your backpacking and trying to save ca$hola. After a night train from Bangkok followed by a bus, bus, ferry, then taxi to get from Bangkok – Koh Samui (18 hours). Or a car ride, 2 buses, a ferry, 2 buses and a long tail boat – (another 15 hours of travel) just to get from Koh Phangan to Ko Mook. If doing things on the cheap this will just become the norm after a while! Your gonna be tired, grumpy, smelly, exhausted and wishing you were anywhere else. But what makes it worth it? Coming round the headland at sunset in that longtail boat that’s dropping you at your final destination, as the sun bigger than ever before turns a hot pink, then red, and gets swallowed up by the horizon – and you realise you’ve just seen the most beautiful thing you have ever ever seen in your whole entire life.
9. Your boyfriend is more of a legend for putting up with you than you thought before.
After reading this post I’m sure you will now all know, i get sick, i get dirty, I smell like insect repellent, I’m still getting used to going to the toilet, I’m revelling in the memory of hot water, I’m a 30 year old sleepy, non-drinking, dull party partner, I’m no longer looking as pretty or “city girl” as i used to be, I’m a bit of a princess, and I don’t mind a good whinge. Don’t you think my boyfriend is a bit of a legend? I do. xx
10. YOU WILL HAVE FUN – Its all worth it!!!
The best bit about backpacking is – as faraway from the city lights as you may be – You will have fun – Its all worth it!!!! When you are kayaking around mountains in the sea, swimming through underwater caves, bathing with elephants, diving off speedboats, chasing moray eels, or watching the sunset on a deserted beach, followed by a sky speckled in an infinity of stars….These are the moments that make it all worth it! These are moments that will last forever in your memory, and ones you wouldn’t give up for anything!