There are so many posts about why it’s so great to travel single. A couple of months back, I wrote an opposition to that. A kind of gushy admittance that I have a pretty great boyfriend and solo travel is not always the best and most exciting way to see the world. It did make me think, however, of a certain trip that I wished to god I had been on my own for the entire duration. This post is a counter-balance to my previous argument… travelling by yourself is sometimes light years better than the company you have found yourself in.
The story starts in the
beautiful town of Mansfield in 2009. I was eighteen years old and had just started dating a boy with travel plans. He wanted to go away for a couple of months and see some of the world. Great, I thought, that’s amazing. You go, Glenn Coco. Was I concerned about not seeing him for a prolonged period of time? No. I was not. Which probably should have instantly flashed big, fat warning signs that it wasn’t meant to be.
So, he asked me to come with him. I, with university on the horizon and a summer of post-school-pre-uni partying to be had, politely declined on the basis of money. Then came the temptation, the golden ticket to paradise: “I want you to come. I will pay for you to come.” At the time I was lying on a substandard beach in British spring time, with a proposal of a free holiday to Thailand dangling like a carrot in front my nose.
Holiday. Free. Thailand?! Three amazing things all compiled into one, sweet little sentence. So, 18 year old me – after obligatory protestations for an appropriate amount of time – said yes.
Two weeks later, I boarded my flight. We met in Kuala Lumpur on a transfer flight in a cliche should-be-sickly-romantic moment. Waiting at the bottom of an escalator… anxious, but not the good kind. I saw his feet come into view, and then slowly but surely, the rest of his body. I was expecting some kind of relatively pleasant feeling – I mean, I wasn’t totally adverse to the poor guy. Alas, no. I instantly wanted the floor to swallow me up to prevent this inevitable meeting. I had totally gone off him and was now sentenced to a holiday with him.
I made my pitiful excuses on the plane not to sit next to him. We arrived in Bangkok, headed to Khao San Road and got a room. We met a really nice girl on the first day of a year long trip around the world. She was excited over drinks, and we were two wet blankets bickering with each other and smothering her excited self. We were awful to be around – the atmosphere was horrendous. The next two days consisted of a painful process of me ignoring the boy, trying not to be too dismissive of him due to guilt, and him being sweet to me, to the girl he had romantically brought out half way across the world to see him.
A day later we were sitting in a crowded, street-side restaurant. Me, looking sulkily anywhere but at him, he, looking on sadly at nowhere but my inexplicably frowning face. And then the dreaded words… ‘You don’t want to be with me anymore, do you?’ I almost laughed at the suddenness of it, how subtle I hadn’t been with my feelings and how relieved I felt now that the burden of the break up was off my shoulders. I shook my head, and said no. He left.
A few hours later I found him in our room in the hostel. What could I do? What was done was done, and we had to spend the next two weeks together.
It was now an obligatory trip with an immediate Ex. It was a nightmare. A nightmare in one of the world’s most paradisaical places. We did everything that a young couple in love would relish in doing – swimming in clear blue water, drinking cocktails out of coconuts on the beach, Thai massages, ate incredible food…we even rode an elephant together, for God’s sake. My first elephant riding photographs forever tainted by the Bangkok Breakup.
Then it was time to go home and never intentionally see each other ever again.
So, what’s the moral of this story? The moral is don’t go travelling with people you don’t like that much. In fact, pick your travel partners very wisely. Your best friend could turn into your sworn enemy and your beautiful boyfriend could turn about as attractive as Quasimodo. The case is a little different here… I knew prior to boarding my flight that I did not want to spend two weeks with this boy, but my selfishness to see Thailand got the better of me. That trip ignited a passion for travel that has yet to go out, so I cannot regret it, but it’s sad that what created such a huge part of my life today was tainted with such an regretful situation