New Years have some magical thing about them, and for me, the most magical New Year was 2016 when I promised myself to achieve uninhibited freedom and confidence.
So a lazy January afternoon got me thinking what if I go to a foreign country alone, without anyone to watch me over, just on my own.. doing my thaanng!
Sounded marvellous! But that excitement also converted into trepidation very soon.
Married Indian woman traveling solo! And at that time, even the girl-travel-solo wasn’t a heavily publicised story.
Seems a bit outrageous for the standards our country upholds. Convincing myself wasn’t enough; next in line were my husband, in-laws and parents (in that particular order). I realised the power & authority an Indian husband holds, when both the set of parents, after gasping at what they heard, succumbed by saying- do what your husband says.
And he said- Ja Simran Ja, Jee le apni Zindagi! in one breath and the moment I shared my heartfelt desire. Yes, lucky me! But majorly, just stubborn :)
…And rest is history. It was the start of a habit, an unending desire to see the world, with or without anyone to accompany me.
So how did I decide upon my place of exploration? Was Chiang Mai ( the city of my dreams that I always wanted to see? Nope, of course not.
I was just so worried about the trip expenses that I simply did a search on SkyScanner for the cheapest roundtrip fares from Mumbai to Anywhere for a week in February, and quite obviously there were results like Sri Lanka, Bangkok, Dubai, etc.
Step two was the elimination method. I went through the results and shortlisted options from each country. Ruled out Sri Lanka & UAE since I was a little sceptical of these countries for my first trip alone. Ruled out Bangkok since it was my first trip abroad, and that too with a big boisterous group of 9 girls!
The second cheapest option in Thailand was an enigmatic name- Chiang Mai. So I started googling, reading and YouTubing about it, and Bingo! I loved what I saw!
It was actually a backpacker’s paradise with a hippy laid back vibe with an expansive coffee culture. What else? Safe for women! I must’ve gone through minimum 50 blogposts reading about experiences of solo women travellers in Chiang Mai and did not come across even a single damaging review.
Fully convinced with my choice of destination, I started listing down all the must-sees and unique experiences in CM and put them together into a 5-day itinerary.
i. Wat Phra Singh- CM, the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom and hence the cultural capital of Thailand, has over 300 temples. Visit this temple for the typical Lanna art and architecture in a calm and quiet atmosphere. There is a VERY realistic wax statue of a monk inside (that I came to know only after coming back from the trip!), that’ll have you wondering how a human being manages to be SO still even while meditating.