To Tour or Not to Tour

I was looking back at my first post from this trip and had asked myself the question “Would I like traveling alone?” First, I think I would rephrase the question to “Do I like traveling solo?” I have learned that solo does not mean alone, and the answer is “mostly yes.”

I think when you are traveling solo, there are lots of obvious perks, like getting to do what you want, when you want; seeking solitude when you want it, but also, it’s relatively easy to make connections with people when you want.

When you are traveling solo, especially as a solo female traveler, you are approachable to other like-minded travelers and locals. Local people want to know your story and are willing to share theirs. Other travelers tend to gravitate to people doing the same things. You also are forced to ask directions (a lot) which naturally starts a conversation.

Northern Thailand was definitely a place for travelers - not necessarily a tourist destination. There were many more like-minded travelers and we were easy to spot. As I have spent the last couple of days in Koh Samui - which is beautiful, I have learned it is definitely more a tourist destination. People (mostly Europeans) come in groups (friends, couples, families) and the solo traveler is more of anomaly.

I realized I would have to work harder if I wanted to meet people (and not start talking to myself). I signed up for boat tour today to Angthrong National Marine Park. As I’ve said before, I’m usually not much for organized tours, but it was the best decision I could have made, not only was it an amazing experience, but I met some great people.

We left the main dock on the island at 8am, and headed 1.5 hours out into the gulf of Thailand, until we reached the park - an archipelago of 40+ small islands. I had my first sea kayaking experience and it was ton of fun seeing the island and caves from the water - despite having to stand in line for a kayak and say twice, “yes, single.” I should also note, it appeared much easier when there were two people paddling the kayak.

We paddled to a small beach, and then hiked up to a beautiful salt water lagoon. We paddled back to the boat and had lunch, while we cruised to another island. We took a long boat ashore, and I opted to make the hike to 500m peak, up a steep and rocky trail for what they promised was a view of the entire chain of islands. Steep and rocky does not begin to describe this climb in the middle of a 100+ degree day - mountain goats would have been challenged. I hung onto a rope and at some points literally pulled myself from rock to rock. But as promised, the view was inspiring - the climb down, not so much.

On the way back, some of my fellow climbers and I rode on the top sun deck and watched the sun begin to set over the islands as we headed back home.

So while I tend to shy away from an organized tour, it was definitely what I needed today.