With a hint of perspiration starting to shine through on my forehead I'm landing in the foreign city. It's hot.
Around 35 Celsius degrees and I'm quickly getting into a more comfortable pair of shorts. The cultural difference from what I'm used to is complete. The atmosphere, the people, the food; everything new to me.
I'm a stranger in a strange land here.
What is the first thing one does when encountering a previously unknown place? Where does one start? It's so easy getting overwhelmed and uncomfortable by this new reality with all of its sounds, its speed and by the heat folding like a sheet over the scene.
When I'm uncertain about things I always pause for a while. Literally. If I'm worried or feeling stressed, I'm stopping whatever I'm doing for the time being. I'm taking a moment to focus on my breath. That prevents my mind from rushing away too far and it brings me back to the present. I watch the site in front of me with curious eyes, breathing calmly and feel how I'm entering a more tranquil state. Slowly I'm starting to adapt to the new environment until I'm a part of it, until it's a part of me. Then I smile and jump right out there.
To me, new places is like nutrition for the soul. New sights to watch, new roads to put my feet on, new people to meet and experiences beyond whatever I've known from before. This city has so much to offer and I don't even know where to begin. Instead of getting a map, a tourist brochure or some other kind of publicly available roadmap; I just pick a direction and start walking, letting my feet lead the way.
There's a plethora of things passing me by as I go. Markets, street performers, small food shops and people playing various games that I've never seen before. There's a group of school kids on their way home I guess, giggling as they pass me and I hear how they're mumbling something about the 'farang'. I can't do anything but smile.
I'm starting to feel thirsty so I call down a two-wheeled taxi and ask the driver if he can take me to the closest place where I can get some water. All of a sudden I'm on the back of a scooter flying through alleyways and back streets. The driver leaves me in front of a giant mall and I'm on my way to hunt down some water. After the mission's been accomplished I find myself sauntering around inside the mall amazed by everything that's going on in there.
I even find a huge hockey rink built right there in the mall where people, somewhat perilously, are trying to figure out how to skate. On the wall behind the rink there's a big screen which is showing a rerun from a Thai hockey game. Just a couple of minutes earlier, I could never in my life have guessed that they actually played professional ice hockey in Thailand. Stunning.
After some time I find a neat little café where I sit to write down all of this.
Seeing new places and doing new things gives me a great perspective on life. I'm learning how to trust in myself and instead of taking everything for granted, using my ideas as my maps and as a way forward.