as much as I enjoy sharing pieces of world with you all, I decided to do something a little different for my readers! I have some really amazing friends who live amazing lives. and as an advocate for women living their greatest lives and living free and in love with themselves, I thought it would be a beautiful thing to highlight some of my girlfriends – to share some of their experiences, may it be parenting, hair care, travel, religion and/or sex. we all can learn from each other’s experiences and grow to become the best version of ourselves.
let me introduce to you my beautiful friend, Rasheeda. funny story, we met through our ex-husbands who were high school classmates and friends. we divorced them and she and I became friends! I often refer to Rasheeda as “The President” and here’s why. besides being one of Atlanta’s busiest and successful realtors, Rasheeda is a woman’s woman. Rasheeda embodies sexiness, intellect, resourcefulness, ambition, and has impeccable style. might I mention that my first experience with hot yoga was with her! I died that day, but she killed it. Rasheeda is “The Hot Girl”.
with all of those things that she is, Rasheeda my friend that has traveled the world. I admire the way she lives her life to the fullest and without regrets. I invited her to share with my readers one of her favorite places – Bangkok! read and enjoy her commentary that will leave you feeling as if you had journeyed to Bangkok with her! You can follow Rasheeda on IG @mc_sheed. and if you’re in the Atlanta area and in need of a realtor, tell her I sent you!
“The ferry docks on the other side of the river, carefully we step over large puddles of water and manuever around the vendors, snaking our way out the crowd. Brightly colored sarongs sway in the breeze, the smell of food cooking awakens my stomach, the sound of different dialects and children laughing. All around me my senses are being stimulated by the energy of Bangkok. But this could easily be the Caribbean or South America, or NYC but it’s different, it’s Thailand.
I have vague directions and recommendations for a restaurant on this side of the river. Thinking the sunset cruise on the river followed by dinner would be a fitting end to the first day in Bangkok, we head out. The directions online made it sound so easy, you get off the ferry walk down a few blocks and you’ll see the restuarant sitting on the edge of the river. Simple.
Quickly, realizing simple doesn’t mean easy, especially given the lack of street signs and race against the setting sun in a place with few street lights. My sister following behind me, knowing even less than I did about where we were going or how to get there. Walking past shops and houses that were closed, let me know we ventured much further from the water than I intended. Lookinng around for a clue on how to get back but every street felt the same, at this point I couldn’t make out anything. Pulling out my phone to use the flashlight to help with navigation, it was the only thing they were good for since they were on airplane mode as to not get hit with international roaming fees. People traveled before phones were a thing, so could I. Feral cats ran past us, even they could tell we were LOST.
The only way out is through. So deeper into the city we went. Finally, we ran into upon a well lit courtyard with some sort of function happening inside. There were taxi’s parked outside with men smoking leaning on the hood of the car. This could be the Caribbean or South America or NYC, people are people all the world over. Just the sight of them, instantly made my shoulders drop the tension I had been holding. Taxi drivers know the land, it’s their job. The only issue now would be communication. I had done one right thing, before leaving wifi I made sure to screen-save the name of the restaurant and it’s address. Usually when I visit foreign countries I try my best to learn a few phrases to get by but Asian countries can have complex languages with alphabet’s that don’t resemble anything close to English. This wasn’t the case in Thaliand but the amount of vowels in their words made pronunciation difficult to say the least.
Smiling as I approach, I shoot my hand up with a wave to get their attention, they smile back. Success. A strangers smile in the middle of nowhere feels as welcoming as coming home.
I approach with my phone in hand, “English?”
They turn heads back and forth, nominating the strongest english speaker. His English being about as good as my French. Let me be clear, the extent of my french is Oui and Je m’appelle. So we were in for a struggle. I hand over the phone and gesture with my hands “we” “go” “there”. He understands. Only problem was he didn’t know the restaurant or the street. He enters the compound to get someone that may know it.
An older woman of somewhere above 40 and below 60, Thai women are other worldly beautiful and don’t age, comes out to greet us. She speaks better English than the cab drivers, but she also isn’t familiar with the restaurant. The glimmer of hope from seeing the taxi drivers now drained from my face. Taking my hand, she led me into the gathering that drew our attention in the first place. Motioning for us to sit. After taking a moment to rest, I began to survey my surroundings.
There were young girls huddled together laughing and talking dressed in black skirts to their knees and buttoned up shirts. The older women all sat together wearing black dresses and talking in more hushed tones. The men were on the far side of the open air courtyard all in slacks and dress shirts. Directly in the middle of the men and women was a long table filled with platters food and drinks at the end, women stood behind the table prepared to serve.
“I think we are in a church.”
She nodded back.
The scene reminded me of Sunday’s in our little country church after service. The usherboard standing over the hot food as we prepared to eat. Instantly, I felt peace but also the urgency to leave. This space felt important. I was an intruding on sacred space. Except for the occasional glance, no one really noticed or even minded our presence. Just as I motioned to my sister for us to go, our kind English speaking host appeared.
She asked the universal question of love, “Are you hungry?”
Nodding in unison with my sister, my belly let out a groan, reminding me the whole reason I even embarked on this journey. Within moments two of the young girls that had previously been laughing and talking stood in front of us with trays of a large bowl of steaming soup and a drink. Bowing in gratitude, they bowed back. The soup bowl was filled with a broth and variety of ingredients we couldn’t make out. This was not the Thai food I was accustomed to but as Andrew Zimmern always says ‘If it looks good, eat it’.
Sharing a meal with people is the most intimate of acts. As I kept looking, I realized this was more than a church. This event was more than a fellowship, it was a funeral. They were laying to rest an elder in the community and in the midst of their grief and mourning they were open enough to welcome two strangers who did not look like them, talk like them, or share anything in common with them. They only saw a smile and weariness in our eyes. We ate every drop of that unknown soup and stayed a bit longer to just share in the celebration of life they were honoring. The night sky was beautifully ink black with the bright moon overhead. It was time to make our way back, this time in a taxi. Same as before, our English speaking host appeared out of nowhere thanked us for coming and spoke with the taxi driver to tell him where drop us. Once we were safely back on the boat crossing the river, the gravity of what happened hit me like the wind hitting my face. Thailand, with only one day in this city, had become my new favorite city. The Thais had my heart.
Now I’m a recovering destination addict, not to worry if you’ve never heard the term. It’s mostly made up. Traveling had become a sort of escapism, the only time in my life where I found any true happiness was in planning, waiting for or departing for another trip, I was always on GO mode. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel anymore, I have 5 continents, 2 US territories and 27 countries under my belt, and I see no reason to curb it. To be honest, I’m not sure I will ever stop, I just approach trips differently now. Experiences like this are what I seek to have more of, deeper connection, unique adventures, communing with the place more as a quiet observer than a tourist. Trusting that I’m prepared enough to handle any situation but also knowing that I don’t have to handle everything. There is magic in not knowing. The true gift of travel is showing me how God/Allah/the Universe (or whomever you pray to) will always make a way for you, as long as you have faith and trust. This is not an invitation to be a fool, on the contrary it’s an invite to learn to check in with your gut and your guides and listen deeper to that sense of knowing above your head. To reside in your body more and let it lead. Use your head for all the practical things, then get out of your own way.
I can show you how to get great rates on airfare, source unique lodging, find exciting adventures for your trip but the one thing I hope to impart is the magic of travel. The stuff you can’t plan, much like life, the adventure is in the doing. So I hope you GO and always remember, Wherever you go, there you are.”