Usually I’m pretty skeptical about sporadic day trips that require me to give 1,500 Thai baht to a woman at a makeshift travel agent’s stand. But, today was different. Amanda, Kate, and I had just gotten to our hotel in the Krabi Islands, ready for a weekend of relaxation and sunshine. After we settled into our room, we decided to head to the front desk and try to find some information on excursions for the following day. At this point, I could feel the island fever warming up my bones. I could hear the waves behind me crashing softly as low tide began to settle in. The sun hugged me in the warmest embrace as the subtle yet ever-present humidity adopted each curl on my head, transforming it to cheerful frizz.
Then, Amanda called my name and snapped me out of my little world. I walked over to where her and Kate were standing, talking to a woman behind a small wooden booth. After negotiating prices and tour plans, it was settled. Just like that, faster than it took for the ocean’s waves to crash against the sand and retreat back to its origin, we had all booked a twelve-hour day trip starting the next morning. To my surprise, I felt more compelled than ever to hand a complete stranger 1,500 baht. We paid with gleaming smiles and went back to the room to change for dinner.
At this point, I was a new type of hyped that I’ve never been before. It was as if the genuine calmness and serenity of the island atmosphere was fusing itself to my usual over-exaggerated attitude. I’m always thinking. My mind and body don’t really know how to be calm, so moments like these were a rarity. I skipped to dinner, and since I was too full to move afterward, I instead smiled happily the whole way back to our room.
I woke up the next morning feeling like a kid on Christmas morning, and nearly jumped out of the cloud-like mattress I was blessed to sleep in for the night. While the girls slept for another few minutes, I gathered my things, got dressed, and mentally prepared myself for the day. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I did know that whatever I was going to experience that day would be something I could never forget. In a matter of minutes, everyone was awake, faces fresh and bright, ready for the adventure we were all about to take on. We walked down to the front entrance of the hotel where we met our Tuk Tuk driver that would bring us to the boat we would take to Railay Beach. On the way, we picked up an Australian girl named Kat that joined us for the morning on our first adventure. I was still a little anxious to find out what would happen for the day, but once we reached the dock, all that anxiety and tension disappeared. Looking out into the ocean and the teal water that splashed in front of me, I felt free. I can’t remember the last time I was this comfortable in my mind, in the absolute peace of my thoughts. Worrying was useless; I was here now.
A good friend once told me, “Be where your feet are.” I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant at the time she told me, but I tried it today. So, I sat on this boat packed with tourists just like myself, and breathed. I didn’t think about what would happen in the near future, or what I ate for dinner the night before, or anything else other than what was happening in that moment. I didn’t think; I smiled. Within a few minutes, it was already time to get off and go to the next island. Stepping off the boat, we made our way to the first destination of the day: rock climbing. I had very little climbing experience, but knew I could handle it. Geared up, we walked alongside that same teal ocean through a beautiful, small, vine jungle to reach our climbing point. That same pure peacefulness that graced me on the boat was making its way back to me in the most reassuring way. My nerves were gone, or at least barely noticeable at this point. I looked to my right, and my heart skipped a beat; that teal water from before? It was here again. And it wasn’t going to leave. I looked to my left, and saw the porous mountain that I was about to climb. Nerves creeped back slowly, but the waves were faster and quickly crushed any thought that could possibly ruin this moment. I was sandwiched between anxiety on my left, and sheer serenity on my right, a feeling I have yet experienced. However, despite all of this, I managed to be the first of my friends to climb the bare rock. In a matter of seconds, the previous feeling of utter peace and calmness came rushing back with incredible force. The only thing keeping me physically grounded was the singular rope attached to my climbing belt and the small Thai man rooted in the sand. I was free. I was climbing a mountain with chalky hands and a beating heart against a beautifully serene teal background. And I was free. I struggled a couple times to get my footing, but it was as if I blinked twice and I was there, at the highest point: free.
Soaking it all in, I watched the crowd of ants at the bottom of the mountain that gathered to watch me. Thirty meters high, I could no longer hear their cheers as the teal waves drowned them out with each soft, yet strong crash. I breathed. I cried for a fraction of a second. I laughed. And with all these emotions flooding my bloodstream, I was here. Here, where my feet were, dangling above all my fears. I was so purely, unapologetically free.