Updated: Nov 3, 2020

I think about the month I backpacked Thailand in 2009 often.

We were three friends at the end of med school, all with two months off, about to start residency as newly minted doctors, and all with sizable student loan debt. But, it had to be done.

We knew for the rest of our career we might not get another chance like this.

We started in southern Thailand

From Krabby we took a long boat to Rai Lai beach where we stayed in bungalows off the sea

We experienced the amazing and insane rock climbing known as deep water soloing where a kayak takes you up to a limestone wall that comes straight out of the water, you can climb as high as you want and then if your grit allows it, jump down into the water below.

We sat on the iconic beach were the movie “the beach” was filmed

To embrace traveling you have to make an effort to go outside of your comfort zone. 


But, food is so deeply woven into a culture that sometimes the best way to understand the people is to appreciate the ingredients

In someone else’s kitchen..

The other day in Africa I had a public health commander come down and ridicule how unkept the refrigerated chicken was in the biggest grocery store in Burkina Faso with US military public health standards.

It made me think of the time I ate raw beef in a village in northern Thailand during the new years festival, promised that the spice would kill everything.

He was not happy that we could only buy our produce outside on the street, which was certainly not within military regs.

I miss Thailand

I miss the freedom

To take 5 days and ride 350km on the Mae Hong Song loop

on a crappy 125cc used rental bike

That I dropped on one of those winding mountain roads on a hairpin turn distracted by the scenery. But, with the frame bent, mirror broke, arm bloody (later to be infected), and my helmet at the bottom of a large ravine after rolling off and falling down the mountain I chugged on.

I paid some kid in a village $1 to bend the frame back in place, and all was well…minus the scar

But, it was worth it. We went places you couldn’t get to with any other form of transportation

And found a near extinct tribe on the Thai/Burma border

I never submitted leave, or attended an official military safety briefing

I didn’t stay in approved Air Force lodging

I shared sleeping quarters with members of the opposite sex

Because I’m sure I violated some safety regs

Which is good

Because I’m excited to be done with my time in active duty

My time in South East Asia taught me the importance of it..

(formatting inspired by

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