a lesson in the land of smiles

long tail boat in southern thailandWhen Florence Masetla left home for a well-earned R&R break in Thailand, little did she expect to return with a whole new outlook on life…

“Early this year I left on yet another overseas adventure. I remember when I left South Africa winter was upon us and I was more than happy to leave the frost and work/life pressures behind for sunny, serene Thailand. Boy, I was up for a rude awakening that would not only make me think, but would change my life for the better.

The first day I landed in Bangkok it was raining and I remember saying to myself “Ooo Flo, here comes another tsunami.” For the moment I wanted to get into the next plane back to South Africa. I am glad I didn’t. Otherwise I could have missed my moment of enlightment.

Before I get to this spiritual awakening of my trip, let me give you and overview of my Thailand trip. The first three days were spent in Bangkok and the rest of the days I spent in Phuket – nine days to be more precise.

Bangkok. The day was dedicated to relaxing – first a bath followed by 4 hours at the spa.

Day 2
It was spent doing a Bangkok city tour and a visit to the Damnoen floating market outside Bangkok. I journeyedd back to yesterday Thailand and back to modern-day Thailand in less than seven hours.

Day 3
The morning of Day 3 saw me packing and heading south to Phuket. For me it was ‘Yet another busy city’ ticked off my list, so I gracefully left Bangkok behind and took a pleasant and rather quick two hour plane from Bangkok to Phuket.

Day 4 to 12
Then the real adventure began! I was based in Patong. Whilst in Phuket I visted the other islands, Phi Phi and Phang Nga, Fantasia Phuket, plus spent the day lazing around either at the hotel beach or malls.

This is where the rude awakening occurred – whilst interacting with the locals either at the hotel or other islands etc, I came to realise the most important aspect of the Thai people – their ATTITUDE. Most of these people appear poor but yet seem happy. They don’t call it ‘The Land of Smiles’ for nothing. These people seem to be smiling all the time and they are laidback. I then did my own informal investigation as to why – is there something in the water or are they smoking something or what? It’s then that I found out that Attitute is rather the reason behind their smile. They smile because they know that life is not all that bad. Most have accepted their status in life and do what they can to uplift themselves. If they can’t, some say to themselves – ‘well that’s life’ and move on.

Generally the Thai people are hardworking yet less stressed – again my own observations pointed out Attitude and life outlook and life style.

For me this was more of a slap on the face, I mean I am more fortunate than the majority of these people, yet I am mostly unhappy and stressed! Then I realised that for me to grow spiritually and otherwise, I needed to change my mindset. To take things easy and enjoy more of the little things in life. To basically go back to the basics without going backwards!

It’s four months later and I can feel the change – slowly but surely – I can feel my ‘happiness barometer’ rising. Thanks to the free lesson that the Thai people taught me and now I am looking forward to going back!”

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* photo by Mark Hayward – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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