The Week I Watched A Man Get Knocked Out In Thailand

This Week:

  • From my final days in Frankfurt, Germany to flying to Bangkok, Thailand!
  • My first impressions in Thailand exploring Chinatown, street food, and Muay Thai.
  • One of the most social days I’ve had in years.

October 2023

Su M T W Th F S

Where In The World Was I?

  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • ✈️
  • Bangkok, Thailand

Live Travel Map 🌎

The Final Days (Frankfurt, Germany)

Who The Heck Is Sending Me All These Signs?

So I’m sitting in the hostel common room, working on last week’s Life Update post (3 Months Of Backpacking: The Part Nobody Talks About).

I hit publish, close my laptop, and without a beat, this girl sitting at the table to my left looks over and goes, “done with work?”

I look over and smile, thinking, oh boy 😂

See, I don’t live a traditional life and I’m not very good at lying so whenever people ask me seemingly basic questions, I never have simple answers.

“Yeah… well, I mean… it’s not really work. Like I don’t work for someone else, it’s just for myself. I just blog my travels.”

Naturally with this kind of answer, she asks more, so we start talking.

Turns out she used to be a doctor, but about a year ago she decided to quit after a health scare. Her job was just so stressful and taxing that it became too much. Ever since, she’s turned to side hustles and building a business(s) on social media and a couple other paths. She was clearly passionate about health – diet, exercise, lifestyle, etc. – and found meaning in sharing that passion others on social media.

It was the first time I really felt like I met someone I related to on a level of business, lifestyle, and entrepreneurship. I haven’t met a lot of people in the past couple months that have had similar end lifestyle goals as me. Most people I’ve met have just been on vacation for a certain timeframe or doing a gap year, not traveling as a lifestyle.

But what it made it even weirder is how I JUST journaled about this, spoke with my cousin about it, and wrote about it in last week’s post (3 Months Of Backpacking: The Part Nobody Talks About#A Critical Reflection).

Again, signs from above?? Who knows… All I can say is life is weird sometimes.

Exploring Frankfurt

I did get out from the red light district where I was staying to explore.

I walked around the old town a bit, by the river, through the big central shopping area, and through some of the neighborhoods south of the city.

It also started to get cold! Mornings were in the low single digits (2º-5ºC / 35º-41ºF). I brought out my nano puff jacket for the first time!

The rest of my time in Frankfurt was doing some errands (dotting i’s, crossing t’s) to make sure I’m ready to fly to Thailand! Getting cash in Thai baht, passport photos, onward flight plans, etc.


  • ZEIT FÜR BROT – apple cinnamon roll
  • HANS IM GLÜCK – veggie burger and apple strudel
  • WANNAWAI – ate here literally 3 times over my 5 meals in Frankfurt lol, delicious, affordable, close to the hostel, I’ll take it
  • MA’LOA Poke Bowl – poke

✈️ Off To Thailand

Officially ditched the foot boot! (~5 weeks post fracture)

Had no issues with my bags fortunately! I was worried they’d be too big/heavy that they may make me check one. I was curious how much they weighed though. This is with no water/watter bottles.

  • Clothes backpack (back): 11.5kg (25.4lbs)
  • Tech backpack (front): 13kg (28.6lbs)

Got my Europe departure stamp! She just confirmed that I flew into Spain and asked where I had just come from (France).

Similar to leaving the U.S. in Boston, I was asked by the boarding attendant (to get my physical boarding pass) if I have a return flight or onward flight. I did book a confirmed flight out and so I told her I’m leaving the 14th of November. She apparently was cool with just that because she didn’t ask to see any confirmation.

She told me that the immigration officer in Thailand would ask for it, which, I’ll get to in just a second.

Highly recommend Thai Airlines! Smooth experience, and free dinner and breakfast meals on the overnight flight I took!

The Onward Flight Dilemma

Just to capture this somewhere in case it helps someone.

Problem: Most countries legally require either a return flight or onward flight, i.e. they want to make sure you won’t overstay. However, most backpackers (like me) don’t plan that far in advance and would prefer to figure it out later (while still abiding by the stay-limit rules). So, what do you do?

From the research I did, there are a couple options:

  • Option 1 – Wing it – don’t buy any onward/return flight and just lean on the hope that no one (boarding attendant or immigration officer) asks for it.
  • Option 2 – Onward ticket rental – if you Google “onward ticket” you’ll see a lot of services where you can rent a flight reservation for ~$16 or so. From what I understand, you get a confirmed reservation, but you don’t get an actual e-ticket, which basically means your seat is held, but you can’t actually get on a plane with it. I’ve read that lots of people have used it with great success. It’s easy and the cheapest “insurance” policy.
  • Option 3 – Buy a real flight and don’t take it – flights in SE Asia are pretty cheap, for e.g. Bangkok to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam are about $50. You get a real ticket that you can use to board, but it’s more expensive, particularly if you just cancel without a refund or don’t take it.
  • Option 4 – Buy a flight and cancel – I don’t know if this is possible anywhere else, but I heard if you book through Chase Travel you can cancel for a full refund within 24hrs. So the idea is, buy your confirmed flight before leaving, use it to get in, then cancel once in the country.

The one question mark I had with these onward ticket services is, what if you show your flight reservation number but they ask further to see your confirmed ticket? I’ve heard it rarely happens but maybe you’re screwed if they aren’t cool with you just booking one on the spot.

So, when I heard about Option 4, it felt like the safer bet, so that’s what I did here.

The downside? Tickets through Chase Travel are much more expensive and sometimes refunds can become a pain in the a**.

Exhibit A – When flying from the U.S. to Spain, I had a train ticket out of Spain but not out of the EU (technically Schengen zone) so the flight attendant made me buy something on the spot. I bought an onward flight from Paris to London and paid for the extra “no questions asked” cancellation policy for whatever $20 extra. I canceled it within 24 hours (in July) and I STILL haven’t received a refund… The flight I booked was for mid September. 🤦‍♂️ What a mess.

So when I was waiting in the Frankfurt airport, I booked a real flight to Vietnam, as if I were actually traveling.

The Immigration Officer

I had read about all the different visa types and such. I was under the impression that with a U.S. passport, I’d get a “visa on arrival” and needed to pay 2,000 Thai baht in cash (~$55), so I followed the “visa on arrival” signs.

But when I got there, the U.S. was not on the list of countries for who needs to fill out the form…

I asked for help and they pointed me back towards the big immigration gate.

I walked up to the immigration officer and handed over my passport and boarding pass.

He said nothing, took my passport, didn’t even look at my boarding pass, and I stood there ready to be interrogated about why I’m there, where I’m staying, when I’m leaving, etc..

After a couple seconds he looked up at me and motioned over to my right towards this finger print scanner machine.

I put my right hand on the scanner, it beeped, then I looked back over to him, waiting for him to say something or ask me something.

He looks up from the form he’s filling out with a confused look, points back at the machine and says “left!”

I look back over and the machine says “Please place your left hand on the scanner” 🤦‍♂️

I put my left hand on it, it beeps, then I do my thumbs.

I look back up at him, he stamps my passport, hands it back to me, and says nothing.

I stood there for about a 1/4 second thinking, you’re… not gonna ask me anything? before I just took my passport, said “thank you” and walked through 😅

No visa form needed, no passport photos needed, no 2,000 thai baht in cash, no onward flight needed.

I was genuinely confused, but kept thinking, “you’re in the country! just go! don’t ask any questions 😂”

Where Am I… (Bangkok, Thailand)

Hot, humid, and smog-y!

The Chinese Festival Walking Tour

I got to my hostel at 3:30pm and the (incredibly nice) receptionist said there’s a walking tour at 4pm! I thought ahh shit why not 😂 I pretty much put my bags down, took a lightning quick shower, then turned around and left with the group.

We took a ferry along the river.

And through some back streets.

We had a decently sized group of other people from the hostel, maybe 12 or so.

Some people were chatting, some were just walking by themselves. I was walking behind this other guy from our group and thought about starting a little exchange. After some contemplation I eventually walked up and said “where are you from?” It was amazing, almost instantly he perked up with a smile and we started chatting. Just one of those little wins for me, a rep, another action towards breaking down those mental barriers for social interactions.

We eventually popped out at this Chinese festival.

Our guide said this festival only happens once a year and they serve free (vegetarian) food for the community! The idea is that they believe they are putting out good karma, so eating it is actually a sign of respect. And apparently this is true because the locals kept asking our guide to have us eat and kept giving up their seats for us ❤️

Frankly I have no idea what I ate and if I’ll get sick in 2 weeks but so far so good! 😅

We made our way through the back streets of Chinatown and came to this huge street vendor market.

I don’t think I remember trying any other food this night, but it was super cool!

We ended out tour at this rooftop bar overlooking the city!

First Impressions Of Bangkok

Everything is SO different, like where do I even start?

  • Lots of cars and motorbikes. Traffic and driving here is actually crazy 😳 I don’t understand how there aren’t more car accidents.
  • On that note, the pedestrian is NOT the highest on the totem pole like in a lot Europe. I’ve stood at a marked crosswalk with a flashing “crosswalk” sign for MINUTES and no one stops. You kinda just have to… start walking 😅
    • In a lot of Europe, it’s almost like people will get upset at you for NOT starting to walk across the street. The expectation is that you as the pedestrian have the priority.
    • Walking in Bangkok feels more similar to being a pedestrian in the U.S. except in the U.S every like 5th person will be nice enough to stop for you to cross. Not here 😂
  • So. Many. Street vendors. They’re everywhere, on every street, on every corner, in front of every shop. And they sell everything – noodle dishes, freshly made bread, fried foods, meat, fruits, juices, jewelry, clothes, you name it.
  • So much plastic… Basically all the street vendors serve everything in a plastic container and plastic bag. Any iced tea/coffee you buy is given with a little plastic holder strap you can use to carry it. That said, I’ve seen a surprisingly little amount of trash on the streets.
  • Everything is SO cheap. I had heard it’s cheap but didn’t fully realize until I got here.
    • 1 hour bus ride from the airport to the city?
      • 60THB ($1.64)
    • Bottle of water at 7/11?
      • 10THB ($0.27)
    • Morning espresso?
      • 60THB ($1.64)
    • Pad thai from a small restaurant?
      • 60THB ($1.64)
    • Pad thai from a street vendor?
      • 40THB ($1.10)
    • Finger food/Juice from a street vendor?
      • 20-40THB ($0.55-$1.10)
    • Great hostel in the city for one night?
      • ~400THB (~$11)
    • 15.5km/25min Grab taxi out of the city?
      • 200THB ($5.48)
  • All the people here are genuinely friendly. (more on that in a bit)
  • It feels just raw and authentic here, in a good way.

Exploring Bangkok

Went to and around THE Khao San Road.

Everywhere along Khao San Road “sales” people would come up to you with signs for a thai massage, buying a new men’s suit, or coming to their bar. I couldn’t even be mad though, everyone was super friendly.

I also went to the centralwOrld and Siam Paragon shopping malls to (finally) top up a bit of my wardrobe.

Also got a little park workout in.

Yes that’s a refrigerator door floating down the river 😂 😅

Some food so far (more later):

Thai Smile Culture

From a journal entry one morning:

October 20th 2023 | Smile Culture

I was walking down Khao San Road, street vendors on either side, people everywhere, with this big smile on my face.

I couldn't help it.

Everyone I looked at immediately smiled back at me.

This wouldn't happen in the U.S. or Europe, not that I've experienced.

People just seem to genuinely be happy here, something I haven't experienced before.

It's the gestures of respect, the bows, the smiles, the...

... Wow, you literally can't make this up.

This random woman was standing on the side of the road waiting for a break in the cars to cross, and this old woman running this little coffee/tea stand on the sidewalk turned around, took her hand, and walked with the woman across the street.

They got halfway and the food stand woman turned around and scurried back to her shop with this huge smile on her face.

Like, that's what I'm talking about here.

The culture, like the deep fabric of culture, is just different here.

In the U.S. or Europe, when I’ve smiled at people (think, a cafe worker, rather than a random person on the street), most times I’ll get a little smirk or nod back.

Here in Bangkok, almost every person behind a food stand that I’ve made eye contact with and smiled at, they’ve smiled back.

And I’m not talking about a corner-of-the-mouth grin.

I’m talking teeth-showing, cheeks lifting, eyes-wrinkling smile. A smile that comes from the heart.

Looking at a random stranger and having them look back at you like they’ve never been happier to see you is something I could never translate through words.

It’s so different in the greatest possible way.

Where I Saw People Fight Until They Dropped (Muay Thai Event)

Friday night the hostel had an event where they bused all of us to this Muay Thai arena for a Friday night fight event, for free (retail tickets were ~1200THB / ~$33).

There were 3 MMA fights, then 9 Muay Thai fights.

And it was WILD.

Honestly the Muay Thai fights made the MMA fights look like nothing 😅

Also, some of the fighters would do some kind of religious ritual/ceremony before the fight.

Any time there was a fighter from Thailand the whole arena erupted in shouts and applause.

And a lot of fighters would put their hands in a 🙏 to each other, the ref, and all 4 sides of the audience, a sign of respect and appreciation I’ve noticed here in Thailand.

Which, speaking of respect, I was actually surprised and impressed at how professional and respectful a lot of the Muay Thai fighters were. Many times at the end of the match, almost immediately after the bell, they’d go from trying to beat each others’ brains out to, within seconds, giving each other a huge or hand shake.

I also caught a crazy leg kick knock out while videoing… 🤯😳

Such a cool experience and I’m so grateful that it was free!

From Getting Lost To Never Switching Off

I originally only booked Wednesday through Saturday morning at this hostel in Bangkok, but decided to extend my stay.

And boy am I glad I did because Saturday turned out to be one hell of a day.

Morning Coffee And Conversation

As usual, I grabbed my journal and headed to a coffee shop, the same one I went to the day before. I usually take the time to sit, wake up, and do a bit of journaling if anything comes to mind.

However, as I walked in, I saw one of the guys from the hostel who I had been chatting with the previous day. We made eye contact and he was sitting there waiting for his coffee.

A lot of times in these situations, my mind races to “do I leave? should I stay? do I have an out? will this be awkward?” I had a bit of that, but almost felt too tired to really think it all through. I just got an espresso and sat down next to him.

We ended up having a fantastic chat! We talked about travel, life, work/jobs, food, diet, working out, personal finance, etc. I felt really good and smooth, not awkward or anxious at all besides the first couple moments.

After a nice long chat, I stopped by the coffee/tea stand across the street to get a thai iced tea (30THB/$0.82) (and yes, this is the same woman from the story earlier who I saw walk that other random woman across the street with a big smile on her face).

The Floating Market… Or… Not?

We got back to the hostel and there was a hostel event at noon to go to a weekend floating market. I was on the fence, but thought eh why not, the others pressured me into it 😄

There was a group of ~34 people from the hostel and we all got taxis 4 at a time. The hostel manager/guide told each taxi where to go and negotiated the rate, so all we had to do was get in and get out.

The plan was to meet at a blue telephone booth at the start of the market, which we “couldn’t miss.”

I thought about confirming the location of where we were all supposed to go but just never did.

The taxi driver confirmed we were going to “floating market” and I said yes! In the taxi I was searching on Google Maps for “floating market” but there were like 6 different ones all in various locations. I figured we’d be fine.

We got to the floating market and since I didn’t have any smaller bill than 1000 I just paid for the 4 of us (200THB) and had the others pay me back.

I said, “200 baht” as I handed over the 1,000 bill.

He reached into his wallet and got out a wad of cash. He pulled out a 500, then flipped through one 100 bill, then another 100 bill, then handed it over.

“300 baht”

I took the cash and said “no no no. 200 baht”

He reached back in and handed over one more 100 bill.

We got out, said thank you, and he drove off.

The next mission was to find the “obvious” blue telephone booth… but we couldn’t find it. The 4 of us walked around, we asked a couple locals that gave us confused looks and we asked the information booth.

I said, “I mean it can’t be that hard to spot a huge group of 30 foreigners 😂”

We started to think we might be in the wrong place. I had remember seeing a Whatsapp phone number but forgot to take a picture of it. Fortunately one of the other guys had the idea to look at the hostel booking email, and voila!

I gave it a call and the hostel manager/guide said “ohhh no that’s the wrong market!” and gave us the location.


I booked us a Grab taxi (just ~15min) and this time we made it.

Was the taxi driver trying to squeeze a little extra from us foreigners? Or did he just genuinely go to the wrong one? Who knows…

Fortunately with a little teamwork we made it. Things could’ve been much worse.

With the delay we had a little less time to explore and eat, but it was still awesome and I tried a couple delicious foods.

Yes that’s a banana and yes it’s about the size of my pinky finger.

We then all hopped onto some boats for a boat tour.

And that was WILD.

Back To Chinatown

After the boat tour, a group of people wanted to head to Chinatown. I decided to tag along. I rode with this girl from Germany and we had a nice conversation about our travels. I felt surprisingly pretty good and held my own, not awkward at all.

We walked up the whole market and got some food. It was honestly kind of overwhelming how many options to choose from!

Our big group had split up into smaller groups by about halfway through. I was with this group of maybe 7, half guys, half girls. I had chatted individually with maybe 1 or 2, knew the names of a couple, but there were still lots of people I hadn’t met.

There was this one (very pretty) girl who I kept hearing speak Portuguese with another guy in the group from Brazil. I went through my usual, “curiosity -> idea to talk to her -> mental barriers -> delay action -> overthink about procrastinating” cycle. But eventually I had a little opportunity and decided to strike up a little conversation.

We had some back and forth but I almost got the vibe that she wasn’t super interested in chatting. However, I thought it might have also been because of interruptions to our conversation having to dodge all the people we were walking through.

By around 5:30pm we were nearing the end of Chinatown, I was feeling tired, and the girl I talked to booked a taxi to head back to the hostel for a different event. I decided to tag along to the hostel and apparently I was the only other person interested in going back – one of those chaotic moments where half the group is like should we go to this place? or maybe we keep walking? wait who’s going to the hostel? who’s coming to the bar? the taxi is here!

We chatted the whole way back in the taxi and again I felt pretty good, smooth, confident. It felt like an equal conversation and not awkward.

I wasn’t really interested in anything further, but it was just another little social win, a moment I was proud of, particularly in the bucket of reps for talking with someone who I think is attractive.

Back at the hostel, I essentially went straight to my bed, rested my legs, and cherished the 1.5hrs of time I had just… alone and not talking with anyone 😂

I went out to grab a quick snack and came back to eat in the common area.

Someone who went to the floating market came by and started a little conversation, which prompted this girl sitting on the couch to join in too.

30 minutes later a bunch more people got back to the hostel and the place had no more seats there were so many people just hanging out. One guy was playing the guitar and people were singing alone, there was a group of us chatting at the big table, and another big group drinking beers outside on the deck area.

9pm turned into 10pm turned into 11pm.

At some point I got up to fill up my water and just stood there in the kitchen, alone, just… recharging 😂 I felt so drained and exhausted. It wasn’t just from talking to people, but that definitely made up a significant portion of it.

There were some murmurs of going out to a bar, but I don’t think anyone ever put something together. I tapped out at around 12:30am and went to bed.

What Is… Next?

I had noticed some particularly interesting responses (from myself) last night so I had a lot to think about when I woke up.

This is literally fresh as of this morning so I’ll do my best to summarize it.

Twice last night I was asked a very simple question, “so where are you headed next?”

And similarly to the “done with work?” question in Frankfurt, I just folded.

I have no freakin’ idea.

Do I explore more of Thailand? I wanted to see Vietnam too, should I just go there? And what about Bali, I want to slow down in Bali, but is it too soon to slow down when I just got here?

One part of this is the unknown from a couple weeks ago, but it’s certainly not everything.

Unlock Icon This content was originally hidden upon publishing.

I do kinda feel like a lot of this is resting on the unknown of jury duty and if/when I can formally and legally get an exemption or at least an absence.

But that feels SO out of my control. I want to be able to put my foot down and say nope there’s no way I’m going back, but the other part of me feels the pressure of authority, of literally, the law.

So for example, if Jan 1 2024 wasn’t a POTENTIAL deadline, it would certainly help, but it wouldn’t clear EVERYTHING up.

I think it’s coming down more to opportunity cost and the fear of missing out.

I’ve trained myself over the last, I dunno, 10 years, to value social opportunities. I always have myself, but I haven’t always had social opportunities.

Last year in the van felt like a good example. I put myself and meaning over social experiences and as a result I felt like I made a lot of progress on myself and fulfillment. The past 3 months I’ve put social experiences over myself and fulfillment (work). As a result, I’ve had a lot more social experiences, memories, and new connections, but I’ve ended up sacrificing my health, diet, energy, and focus.

For example, in the past couple weeks I’ve really started noticing my hair thinning at my hair line and top. I don’t ever remember noticing it like this before this summer. I thought maybe it’s just natural aging, but it seems quite odd that almost like a light switch my hair went from normal and healthy to all of a sudden thinning. But to me it seems less odd that it basically lines up perfectly with ~3 months after I started traveling abroad 🤔

For one, if I’m being honest here, my diet has been absolute shit the past 3 months. I mean you’ve seen the food I’ve posted here. Sure it’s delicious, but go look back at the meals I had living in my van Getting Back To Denver Van Life#Food From The Week.

And speaking of, it’s FASCINATING how in that post, April 23rd, 2023, right above it I was writing about the exact OPPOSITE problem.

I had control and consistency then. Nowadays, sometimes I’ll eat 2 small meals, sometimes 1 big meal, I can’t think of the last time I had more than 2,000 calories in one 24hr period, I rarely have fruit or vegetables, like, it’s just all gone to shit 😂

And I think I’ve layered on top of that the most stress I’ve had in a while which certainly can’t be helping.

Whatever the reason, I’m taking this as a physical sign that something’s not right.

So anyways, there’s a valid question in here, which is: is it really an “or” question? Can you have both? Can you have both social experiences, going out, group events, meet people, late nights, etc. AND structure, solid diet, health, routine, work, etc.?

I tend towards the devil’s advocate GaryV answer which is “it’s not OR it’s AND” but I actually have trouble fighting for “AND” here. Like just energy and sleep-wise, going out or staying up late a single time wipes out the next day of focus. Social experiences would have to be more controlled than random, which is how it is now and to an extent, control is a form of structure and routine… Day experiences work but there’s still a tradeoff and a need for non-random intention.

What I’m leaning more towards is that this situation is a new type of life decision, one in which I have to choose between 2 things that I ACTUALLY value, something I haven’t felt like I’ve really experienced at such a scale.

Which brings me to opportunity cost and the fear of missing out.

I worry that I’ll regret not pursuing these social experiences more, something I put as my highest priority before traveling (The Week I Questioned Everything About My Travels#Lisbon). I’m scared of the regret, but at the same time my present self is exhausted.

But what’s interesting is that I have a harder time believing I’d regret the opposite, not starting to grind earlier. The reason being, somehow I got lucky enough that I don’t need to financially yet. At the same time it almost feels like I’m getting to a point where I need to work mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

And at what point do I start listening to that?

I have a feeling in a year or so I’m gonna settle on some kind of balance that works well (think, Tim Ferriss’s “mini-retirements”).

But right now it feels like I’m hitting the extremes.

And maybe that’s a good thing…


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