I arrived in Bangkok and could not believe that a lifetime dream of mine had finally come to fruition, Thailand! I remember when I was young, playing against Sagat from Street Fighter II (you need to be a nerd to get that reference), Thailand always carried this mysticism about her that really intrigued me.
I immediately took a bus into the Bangkok. I had heard tons of tales from travelers about how modern Thailand had become and the traveler scene would be quite different from India. I really enjoyed the challenges that India had presented. The decriptions of the Thailand of today led me to believe that it was now a posh and easy navigable country that had lost her original soul and tradition.
The bus sailed down the large, wide open freeway and I witnessed a plethora of western cars and skyscrapers. Poverty was not confronting at all, in fact from the outside, it looked to be non-existent. The streets and the city were nearly spotless, almost a bit sterile looking. As I pulled into the famous backpacker district of Khoasan Road, I felt like I was at “Spring Break 2009.” This was the exact opposite of what I wanted and my experiences thus far in India. The energy and atmosphere of what I have come to love about the east, more specifically, Southeast Asia was nowhere to be found. As weird as it sounds, I found myself to be a little disappointed. Was I going to find the adventure that had been ever present in my last 6 weeks in India?
I began to explore Bangkok and found that there was still a giant beating heart underneath all of the glitz and glamour. Bangkok really is like few cities in the world. I found myself lost in markets where no English was spoken and chicken are fried right in front of your face, to ancient Wats nestled amongst the modern steel and concrete buildings, to gigantic 6 story shopping malls with club-like cinemas. All of this while being transported by boats on ancient canals, to high tech sky trains, to the infamous tuk-tuk (auto rickshaws) all in the same day.
As I boarded a bus and headed away from the hustle and bustle of Bankok into central Thailand I found even more to be wowed at. I took a dip in the 7-tier waterfall of Erawan national park while having the carp nibble my toes in the milky blue water. Afterwards I took a bike ride along the lush green rice paddies of the countryside. They were tucked in between these giant limestone formations that seemed to be thrust up suddenly from the flat plains. It was incredibly beautiful. I started to really feel that sense of adventure that I have come to love about traveling.
I found what I was looking for the second that I had dropped my expectations of what Thailand should be and accepted her for what she was. Often times in our lives we live at the mercy of our expectations. This can become difficult because we really live or die by the outcome. If the outcome suits us we become elated, if it doesn’t we get dissapointed. The whole time I was expecting Thailand to be something she was not, India. The first few days I was completely a slave to the dissapointment that had come due to the expectations I had set.
How often in our lives to we expect someone or something to be something that it’s not. One of my good friends once told me that the first thing she notices when dating someone is if he has expectations or not. I know often in my relationships with people, expectations have been like a loose thread in a yarn ball, unravelling the relationship.
It was a great lesson for me as I sat back and saw many people, places, and scenarios dissapoint me throughout the course of my life. The second I was able to recognize this and give up the expectations I became totally free. Let us all take a look at our lives and see what expectations we can drop. The second we become truly present to this we have a transformational experience and a new sense of freedom. Try it out and watch the power of presence in action.