Words by Katy Anne, Photos by Ilana Freddye
Thailand. We're only here because for some reason we were arguing about how long the flight would be. Ilana looked up flights just to end the argument - then she looks at me and says, "tickets are $565 roundtrip - are we supposed to go to Thailand?" So we did. Now we're sitting on a 14-hour overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We slept in upper berths that sway every time the train does. I watched the sunrise from a barred window in the bathroom while peeing through a hole that went straight onto the railroad tracks. The landscape is changing, more rural and jungly, a quieter pace.
We have almost everything we own with us in 40 liter backpacks. That feeling of "simplifying" for van life is amplified now - we purged again and paired down so much further. It's easy to forget how much shit you own when you have somewhere to put it. Even when that somewhere is a mini motorhome, there's still bins and drawers and cabinets. The stakes are higher now that we're carrying everything with us, bouncing between places, in trains and cars and homes that aren't ours. It all seems a lot less necessary.
Bangkok so far: a blur of tuk tuk rides speeding through the city; the pungent smell of durian, then jasmine flowers and roasting bananas. Sour water, toilet water, sweat. Car exhaust. Too many plastic bags. Food courts, fried fish, coconuts and corn milk. We learned two words in Thai (hello + thank you) and it gets us far enough. We point at pictures or large vats of noodles and curry, never knowing quite what we'll get. Everything is sweetened and strongly flavored, everything is hot.