Ever A Traveler

I’m on a bus back to the Bay Area. We’re somewhere on Interstate 5 between the 46 and 41 junctions. To the west the blue mountains separating us from San Luis Obispo sleepily lay. Between us and the mountains stretch acres of dry, golden flats. Methodically straight rows of corn and fruit trees come and go at intervals.

The bus is a double decker, laid out spaciously and set with large, vista-friendly windows. Still, the seats are a bit short, and it gets to feel crowded after a few hours. I must be spoiled after a month back in the states. In Thailand we would have been rejoicing that there was A.C. and a bathroom, no less.

I was worried that after coming back from our travels my wife and I would return to the same old life. That being back with family, friends, and the people of our environment would quickly bring us back to the same lifestyle.

But I’m surprised to find today, on this bus, how happy we were to be going somewhere again. I didn’t except it. We were straight up gleeful as we put our bags away, found seats, and buckled up.

Once a traveler, always a traveler.

There’s something about having removed ourselves from familiar society at length. We suspected that life was different elsewhere. When we found it to be true, we saw that we could live differently. Not just in the fact that we weren’t working, though that was a big part of it, but also that we could get along with different infrastructures, languages, cultures, and geographical locations.

We weren’t tied to any one place in the way we thought we were. Or at least me. My wife had grown up on the other side of the world, then moved to the states later as an adult. She’s also traveled far more than I have. In a sense, this stage of her life might simply be a return to the familiar.

It’s almost like having a crutch removed. Actually it’s more like having a third leg torn off, and discovering that it’s possible and quite more advantageous to move around with just two. There’s a sensation of a great skin having been peeled away, like a shedding snake. Yes, it’s a bit traumatic. To be honest, there is pain in leaving a home and a lifestyle.

We sold, donated, stored, or dumped everything we owned in the blink of a month. It had taken years of hard work to buy most of it, and a lot of thought and heart went into the style and feel of our cozy apartment. It was our love nest, not for a baby, but for the time we grew into steady, working professionals together.

Our home was our safe haven. It was where we cooked and enjoyed our dinner, where we slept, where we brought friends for hilarious games and vulnerable conversations. It was as much a part of us as our organs, like an extension of our hearts. We expanded like vines on a tree into our apartment, becoming yet again better versions of ourselves in a new stage of life.

To let go of our home was to have an organ removed. It bled, it hurt. We cried, we yelled. We desperately struggled to rid ourselves of everything even as our hearts told us to keep it. We were tired beyond tired.

And we were scared. But fear was the one thing we were prepared to handle. It was the battle we had committed ourselves to fight in order to move to this next stage of life. Fear, I knew.

It was the one thing keeping us from what we wanted to explore. What if? What next? How? The unknown haunts anyone daring to step outside of her life as she knows it.

Committing to travel meant accepting fear and deciding to look on the other side. It’s always a decision, at the end of each day.

So we accept consequences, act with decency and accept grace as it comes. But we never lose what we learned. And that is that we are ready and willing to face fear to see the other side.

Live powerfully,


The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

Rest, boredom, and joy in Krabi

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

I sat in a Krabi hostel lounge, wrapped in a light breeze. I was treated to an orchestra of tropical birds and insects. Chirps, buzzes, tunes, drums, and tinny vibrations. I wondered at the ferocity of the periodic rains that would crash down and then vanish. Eventually, I got the itch to do something. I overheard a couple of Californians nearby discussing their plans to see this beach and that town, and for a moment I felt I should be going somewhere too.

But I stayed put. We had had terrific three days of walking, trains, and buses to do and see and eat in Singapore. Then there was a half day of trains, planes, and taxi to get to Thailand. Now it was time to just not do. No transport, no adventures, no sights, no nothing.

Rest gets boring after a bit. Even after days of fun and roaming, a couple hours of sitting still makes me restless. But that’s the magic of it. Boredom gives me room to notice the little things, to enjoy and take part in the hello’s and thank you’s with the locals. Boredom inspires creativity and spring loads the search for adventure. It amplifies the colors, the smells, the sounds of a place. So I let boredom expand.

Krabi is at the bend in Thailand’s knee, bordered on the south by a bay that joins the Andaman Sea with the Malacca Strait. It has unique mountains, orange rock streaked from top to bottom with black stains of sediment leeched from within, topped off with fluffy green forest. At night the jagged lighter sections loom like giant phantoms in the dark sky. Water drips continuously from the tops of the cliffs onto the beaches below, forming blunt, black stalactites. Some of them have reached the ground in thick columns from stunning heights, creating the effect of a walking mountain.

On sections of the Railay beach sand, I thought I was under open sky only to discover water falling in little plips and plops near me. Looking up, I found myself underneath huge portions of rock hanging out past the base of the cliff. They must have been a good thirty yards out from the base.

After a few days of quiet in Krabi, we took a long boat to the famed Railay Beach. The water is crystal clear on the beaches when they are undisturbed by long boats. Individual grains of the powdery sand are visible through the waves. In the morning, schools of small silver fish drift just beyond the break.

NL 89 Railay West Beach The Brilliant Beast Blog

The tide rises and falls dramatically in the morning and afternoon. Every six hours, dry sandy paths along restaurants and resorts are replaced by several feet of ocean. It’s a bit unnerving to walk with heavy packs, knee deep, through the tugging waves. We’ve learned to time our moves accordingly.

People in Krabi remind me of the Balinese. The culture is quiet and easy going, with an underlying adherence to politeness and respect that becomes fierce upon violation. In a place where people don’t have much in the material sense, dignity is a person’s most prized possession. Much effort goes into greeting, holding hands together and bowing the head, with a warm smile. It’s surprising to see even the dark, tough-looking, tattooed men breaking into smiles when sincerely greeted. Attention to custom, especially with hello’s and thank you’s, are very much appreciated. This is characteristic of places that are overrun with tourists.

People here are punctual. Two other tourists we met had missed a long boat ride because they arrived on the minute of departure. Krabians (made that up) are also thorough and careful about taking care of business. I’ve had very good experiences booking rides and tours, and finding my way around town.

NL 89 Elephant Trek Krabi The Brilliant Beast Blog

NL 89 Noodles Krabi Night Market The Brilliant Beast Blog

NL 89 Krabi Taxi Samlor The Brilliant Beast Blog

Unfortunately in Railay beach, where we’ve been for a few days, there aren’t many locals outside of the businesses. This place is a tourist trap in a sense, designed for the foreign consumer. It’s hard to even find a market here. My interactions with locals have mostly been with restaurant and hotel staff. Still, we’ve met quite a few wonderful people.

The lady in charge at Railay Family restaurant was plainly very happy to see us there for the second time for dinner. The chef at Rayavadee’s restaurant, The Grotto, came out to generously address my questions about the butter he used. Our canoe tour guide affectionately said I looked like a local with my dark skin and sarong. Even the long boat drivers have been friendly and welcoming. The receptionists and hosts and staff at the places we stayed were all wonderful. There was hardly a corner turned where a smile and greeting weren’t received. We’re really going to miss it here.

It’s rare to really feel at home, even in one’s hometown. To feel at home on the other side of the planet, now that’s an irreplaceable gem of travel. Time to head north into the mainland.

Live powerfully,


The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

NL 89 Long Boat Railay East The Brilliant Beast Blog