The tingling smell of barbecued noodles floating through the market air; local vendors smiling and greeting us on every street corner; fresh coconuts being poured into plastic bags; stray dogs lounging on the footpath under a midday sun; kaleidoscope tuk-tuks merging through traffic amongst the cacophony of horns ringing out over a busy intersection – Ahh, we’re back in Bangkok.
It feels strange to be back in the country that kicked off our adventure, over two years ago. We didn’t think we would find ourselves here again for many more years, and the reason we’ve returned isn’t exactly what we had in mind. But we couldn’t be happier.
It was a crazy two years leading up to this point: Traversing Asia, from Phuket to Istanbul, without taking a single flight. It started with a simple idea with no set itinerary and ended up with us riding 15’000km on two crappy motorbikes in Southeast Asia, zig-zagging across China, hitchhiking around Tibet and Mongolia, overlanding with Dragoman in Central Asia and stowing away on a cargo ship in the Caspian Sea.
We’re absolutely thrilled that we had the chance to experience so many amazing things. But as any long-term traveller will testify it was also stressful, and by the time we got to Istanbul we were exhausted.
Through a combination of fatigue, poor diet and stress, our health seriously took a hit. We started to feel sick, put on a lot of weight and began bickering with each other. Not an ideal situation in any circumstance – even less so when you are isolated from friends and family.
Alesha and I decided we needed to take a break from the adventure travel that we love, or face the risk of completely burning out, or worst, going our separate ways.
We first talked about how we felt in our “Behind The Scenes” article and were completely shocked when it went viral. Within a matter of days, our story was plastered all over the Internet, and we were even interviewed on Australian breakfast TV. Our inbox flooded with letters of support and well wishes from hundreds of people, and we were truly humbled.
But we don’t think we’re extraordinary for having these issues, or martyrs for talking about them. Many couples suffer the same things when they travel – it’s completely normal and nothing to be ashamed about.
After the craziness died down, we talked about our next steps. Would we continue to hit the road and see how far we could push ourselves, or would we step back and try to fix our problems? We started reminiscing about how amazing we felt when we were travelling around Southeast Asia and Central America, and decided that we needed “a holiday from our holiday”. Before we knew it, we had flights booked to Bangkok.
Before we announced what we were going to be doing, a family emergency meant that we had to return to Australia. From Bangkok we headed direct to Sydney and started a whirlwind two-month trip where we caught up with as many friends and family as possible, while trying to see a bit of the country.
Soon our departure date to Thailand was upon us, and it was time to bid farewell to our home country once again. Jumping on another flight from Perth (more flights in two months than we had taken in two years), we finally landed back in Bangkok, ready to jump headfirst into our new campaign.
People have been asking us what our plans are, why we are in Thailand, and if we’ve given up on our overland adventure. To make things clear, we have every intention of eventually flying back to Istanbul and picking up our mission to reach Cape Town by land. Just not straight away.
We are definitely not done with travelling, and we are still dreaming about all the amazing adventures we’ll be taking over the next few years. But for now, we have something else planned….
So What Exactly Are We Doing In Thailand?
Simple – Looking after ourselves.
Over the next two months, we will be relaxing, eating well, exercising and meditating around the southern islands of this beautiful nation. We’ll be committing to a healthier lifestyle, and documenting our experiences as we go.
Thailand is known for its white-sand beaches, fascinating culture, ancient temples and welcoming locals. Besides these things (which originally made us fall in love with the Southeast Asian country in the first place), Thailand also has delicious, healthy food, an abundance of spa and detox retreats and a Buddhist culture that promotes mindfulness.
In our minds, it is one of the best places in the world to kick-start a healthy lifestyle, and we are going to try and prove it!
We’ll be trying an entire range of healthy living options during our time here. There will be detox retreats, yoga sanctuaries, Muay Thai gyms, scuba diving, meditation, massages, hiking, swimming, climbing, and of course a whole bunch of swinging in hammocks by the beach. That’s right, tonnes of time spent by the beach! Sounds like a dream!
But there’s something else we’ve done. If you’ve ever met us in person, you know how much we love a glass of wine and a beer. One of the biggest things for us is that we have quit alcohol, and plan on staying off it during our whole time in Thailand. Might not sound like much, but to us it’s a huge deal!
This is completely different to anything we’ve ever done before, and we can’t wait to refresh ourselves. We’ve already started the detox, by only eating raw fruit and vegetables since we arrived in Thailand on April 15th. It’s been tough for us (especially with all the great street food everywhere), but already we’re starting to feel a difference in our bodies.
And just the simple knowledge that we’re back in a country we know and love, not being in a rush to go anywhere and not stressing about visas/transport/finding accommodation/drunk Mongolian men breaking into our tent in the middle of the night has meant we’ve started to appreciate each other again.
Is Thailand going to be the ultimate place for a health detox? Will we come out the other side feeling younger, fitter, and ready to tackle the world again? Time well tell… Make sure you subscribe to our social media channels to see our journey in real-time and sign up to our newsletter for some special updates and deals we’ll be bringing exclusively to you.
Here’s to good health and happiness!
4 thoughts on “Back To Thailand – In Search Of Health And Happiness”
Kudos to the two of you for doing what’s best for YOU. We totally know how you feel. After living in China for 15 months, we felt terrible. Breathing nasty air, dealing with the stress and craziness that is China…and all the weight we gained by eating the greasy food. We were surprised just how unhealthy we felt (physically and mentally) — so we too came here to Thailand! We were supposed to continue in China for a couple months, but decided we needed to get away before going back.
You are so right about everything here in Thailand. When we landed, we immediately felt this sense of relief and relaxation. I took a long nap after we got to our apartment here, and I think we’ve slept better than we have in more than a year!
It’s a bummer we couldn’t meet up the other day (we had visa stuff to attend to, I know you went out to that awesome airplane graveyard!). We wish you well on your journey and look forward to following along. Stay in touch and hopefully we can catch up with you somewhere along the way.
Liz and Josh
(Peanuts or Pretzels)
Thailand is the perfect country for plans like yours. For us Thailand was always kind of homebase when travelling in Asia. It’s safe, awesome food and wonderful people.
Looking forward to read how you are doing. Wishing you a healthy and happy time. And thanks for your honesty and sharing your thoughts.
You are an amazing couple.
All the best,
Thanks for the honesty in this post! It’s very interesting to read because my partner and I are on a hitchhiking journey across 6 continents without taking an airplane. It will be interesting, especially knowing that your journey through Central Asia was a tough one and we’re about to start it (we’re now in Turkey). We realized that there is no point of rushing and stressing during this journey. We’ve been taking breaks, like now in Turkey we are housesitting for a few months to catch our breath and prepare for the next leg. Your experiences have been very interesting for us and it prepares us mentally for what’s to come next. Enjoy your holiday from a holiday, enjoy the healthy food and the meditation. We hope to meet you guys one day on the road! Love, Cynthia & Niko
Good on you for listening to yourselves and taking the time to look after yourselves. As long term travelers and bloggers it can get crazy sometimes and it can feel like you’d rather push harder than lose the momentum. I don’t travel full time but I still go through the same things. I hope to head to Asia after August to do the same- get away to slow down and work on my writing.