"Who would want to leave New Zealand" is a phrase I've heard way too often. However, from my eyes, I had no choice but to leave.
I was a 21 year old graduate student. My studies had landed me in a stable, well paying job directly out of university. I was accepting this transition of life into the working world and although this was everything I have been working for, I did not feel satisfied… Therefore, upon signing my contract I made an agreement with my boss that I would work for 6 months and then embark on a mission to travel the wild world starting with South East Asia.
February the 5th, 2019 our adventures embarked. My friend Jess and I hopped on board our one-way flight to Thailand.
We had no specific plans other than to follow where the road took us. Our adventure started in the not-so-humble town of Patong Beach, Phuket. This place was wild and we were hit with what seemed like a wall of nightclubs, motorbikes, hostels and $1 Pad Thai that would turn your stomach inside out.
By only my second day in Thailand I was as stiff as a plank, glued to my bed. The only time I was able to move was when I threw my body towards the disgusting hostel bathroom toilet to vomit. What a fantastic start to Thailand.
However, although It took us about one week to acclimatize and get our bodies used to these new bacteria, we still tried to keep positive and turn a gut-wrenching situation humorous as often as we could.
Good things always come from a challenge.
We soon ventured inland, going through Krabi and later upward towards the treacherous party islands known as Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. These islands lived to their name. Our hired motorbikes helped us find our way around Koh Samui with ease and apart from some near misses we kept all limbs attached.
Most of our reason for heading to this part of Thailand was so we could catch the famous Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan. This party was remarkable, as we sat on the beach and watched the moon rise over the ocean in combination with the deep house being slowly broadcasted down the warm beach, we started to realise what we’d put ourselves up for. The beach was packed with around 20,000 people, all segregated into their vibe and style of music. The drum and bass was a favourite for Jess and myself.
After exploring Thailand for around a month, we then headed to Cambodia. We arrived at a hostel called Eighty8 Backpackers Hostel. It was awesome here, we were sleeping in what seemed to be miniature old shipping containers stacked two high along a thin corridor. Jess and I enjoyed this hostel from the get go and looked forward to cracking out the beer pong table and playing a few games of pool that were accessible in the hostel's main “relaxation area”.
Jess and I had returned from exploring the streets of Cambodia to have a shower at the hostel. I vividly remember walking into the corridor behind Jess just as he let out an accidental yet resounding burp…
As he did, he realised there were girls currently in the hostel and burst out with an embarrassing laugh, followed by my burst of giggles. Even though the girls had never actually heard Jess burp they were curious what all the giggling was about so they came out and said hi. Their names were Maria and Sabrina.
The first time I saw Maria I distinctly remember the black bandanna tied in her hair. She had her hair tied in a bun and had a very cute nervous smile. However, Jess and I did not pay much attention to the conversation and resumed our plans to shower.
As planned we hit the beer pong table, playing two to three rounds of most-probably awful beer pong. Throughout our games, our ping pong ball had a tendency to always bounce off the table and land at the feet of our two recently-met new Austrian friends, Maria and Sabrina. After the seventh or eighth time retrieving the ball, Jess hints to me to invite them to play with us. Fast-forward a few more lost balls and I gained the courage to invite Maria and Sabrina to play beer pong with us.
And so my adventure with Maria began at Eighty8 Backpackers Hostel. The night after we met, I remember sitting with her for hours getting lost in conversation. At this stage, neither of us knew what each other meant and that is the beauty of it. We had zero expectations for each other, we never had a “first date”, we weren’t meeting up after work or, visiting each other’s houses when possible… We simply were just two people in the middle of SouthEast Asia not knowing where we’d be in a week, or even tomorrow.