Monday, 25 March 2013

When I first realised the power of writing...

was my first day on my RTW trip -- come to my lovely Irish friend's blog, Maria's Book Blog to read about my first adventure in Bangkok :)

3rd April 2013, edited to add the article, without comments:

THE MOMENT I KNEW by Cait O'Sullivan

I have always loved writing and dreamed about writing my own book. But didn’t everyone? At school, writing essays was my favourite thing to do and should I find myself with an hour’s study spare, I’d get me a-writing. Then twelve years passed, shaped by careers I had fallen into without giving them due thought, culminating in me becoming very restless. One cold morning, sitting in the London traffic, I found myself singing along with POD and ‘I feel so alive’. And realised that, actually, I didn’t feel alive. Not at all.

So, for my thirtieth birthday present, I bought an Around the World ticket and 13 days after my birthday, boarded a plane for Bangkok. I did write a diary but, to be honest, it’s a bit all over the place. I do remember nerves and excitement seamlessly mixing to produce…nothing. I felt numb, looking out of that airplane window.

I landed, picked up my oh-my-word-so-heavy pack (I jettisoned clothes as I travelled and came home twelve months later with a different, much lighter pack) and headed out to get a bus.

Yeah, a bus. Not a taxi, which for me coming from London would’ve been ridiculously cheap, no I jumped aboard a bus.

Needless to say, I got off at completely the wrong stop on a very busy Thai street, receiving no end of stares…a Westerner here? No problem thinks I, I have a map and will get there myself. I can always ask someone.

Are you laughing into your coffee yet?

Of course I couldn’t read the signs, written in strange characters that had no bearing to the map in my Lonely Planet book. I asked some passers-by, only to be greeted with blank incomprehension. I walked. And I walked. And I walked – bear in mind the heavy backpack. I probably stooped, not walked.

Khao San Road
By some luck, I found the street I was looking for – Khao San Road. I started walking through it as the clouds gathered and within seconds there was a tremendous downpour. Really fat drops of rain – the kind I had never seen before in Ireland. Have a look at the photo, now imagine me, doing my best turtle impression in the pouring rain. I was looking for a hostel for the night – yes, despite my sister advising me to book a nice hotel for my first night, I was determined to plunge in at the deep end and arrive unannounced, thus launching myself into my travels.

There were plenty of hostels, after all. Weren’t there? The second to last one I checked out looked suspiciously like the one Leo di Caprio stayed in, in The Beach. I clambered up wooden steps into dark, dingy halls with bunk beds, scared myself thoroughly and climbed back down again. After maybe twenty minutes in the rain, I found an empty room and so spoiled myself.

I proceeded to spend an evening with some German people I met, with my now traditionally braided Thai hair and drinking the local whiskey. We ended up in a punk nightclub and guess what song came on? You’ve got it, POD and ‘I Feel So Alive’. Up I got to dance in my sandals (am talking hiking sandals here, not the nice kind!) amidst a group of head banging Thai’s – heck I had no choice, because I had never felt so alive in all my life. It felt preddy darn fabulous.

But afterwards, I was buzzing. And not in the most pleasant of ways. The jetlag didn’t help either.

What did I do? At a misty 5am after wandering around the back streets and canals of Bangkok? I found myself an internet café and wrote to my family and friends. An hour later, I stood up to go back to my hostel, deeply relaxed and ready for my next adventure.

That was when I understood the power writing had over me.

The escapism and the grounding it provided stood me in great stead amidst the various scrapes but-oh-so-much fun the next 12 months brought. I miss my travelling days.

But now, rather than writing emails about my travels to ground me, I weave my travelling stories into my book to help me fly. Such as Pippa and Jonathon in Romancing the Seas – the lucky pair get to cruise around New Zealand and do a bit of hiking too. Lucky them.

How about you? Can you pinpoint the moment you understood how wonderful writing made you


  1. I'm proud to have this post on my blog and it's great to see it on yours too Cait. I hope lots more people get to read it here.

  2. Thanks Maria, I really enjoyed being on your blog!!