I know some of us had celebrated their birthdays outside their own country (or abroad in short term). To some, they might have planned it over a year or months before it happens, whereas to some they just go with the flow or “come what may” as we fondly say (I prefer this by the way), or yet to some, they book for an extraordinary tour with friends or just by solo. Obviously, this is common to what we’ve heard, perhaps, some of us got the idea online, over the net, or from our own society.
Celebrating another milestone has never been my dream to have it memorialize in another country. Maybe subconsciously I thought of it, but never captured into my memory bank. When my friend and I book our 35 days South East Asian tour in 2015, I never mind that my birthday has been included, it didn’t bother to me at all for what excites me is that I will be traveling with a friend to South East Asia soon! The bubbles in my stomach were acting up that I forgot the birth date was included.
Unfortunately, on the last days before we departed from Philippines, my friend needed to cancel her trip due to a very reasonable matter. So, what happened was, I unexpectedly traveled solo. I was amazed that I will travel solo on my first time traveling abroad, I told myself, it will be epic, it will be new, it will be different. Although, I’m used to traveling solo, but I did it in my own country Philippines, I certainly have no idea what’s going to happen if I will be outside the country. I came to understand that as time goes by, I will take the day as to where my heart wants to go. Yes, it ended that on my birthday, I will be on my own too, only that I didn’t know where will I be.
What’s it like waking up in another country on my birthday?
The first question was “Where was I?” I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Much to my disbelief, I woke up so early, 3am to be exact, because a new-found-Spanish-friend invited me to see the fresh local market in Chiang Mai, I mentioned to him that I’m a local market lover and thus, suggested to join him to the 4am open fresh local Market of the city. I’ve seen weekend markets and other markets in Thailand but never to an early morning local market. It’s situated from the gates both in the South Gate and North Gate, which opens every 4am and usually ends in between 9am-11am. We chose to be as early as 4am, because according to him, the opening is always the best for this market.
We went to the north gate of the market. And yes, it’s interesting to see when the market was about to open. Fresh veggies, fruits, seafood, food from a famous meal to all types of Thai dessert, absolutely everything are available. There are plenty of customers, buying by bulk, cars stopped just in front of the market with easy access to put all their items at the back of their car. Some brought with them their carrier and all. I wandered everywhere on this market, I never knew it’s a big one, but it amazed me the wonders of it. Obviously different from the markets in the Philippines.
We stroll the place for 2 hours, ended our excursion by 6am right when the sun is about to rise.
On my way back to the hostel, I saw few monks walking down the street with their food tray. I’ve heard from some travelers that it’s also good to experience this in the morning like in Laos ( I’ve never been to Laos yet, Yes. I’m saying “yet”), when monks roam around the city with their food trays, it’s the same here in Thailand where local people gave them food and they chant once the food is in their tray. I didn’t take any photo or video on my first encounter as I felt disrespected them, that memory will forever be fueled into my mind.
See how exciting my birthday morning was? Too exciting, it was unexpected. I thought that was the most amazing time of my day. I didn’t know that there will be more by the time I woke up again around 9am. Which obviously I slept when I came back to my place and 3 hours after, I woke up, thinking if I should tell the people or the travelers or the new found friends in the hostel and shout for joy the words – “HEY! IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!” damn! I felt so ashamed of doing that.
But I guess my guts sometimes exudes, that when I had my birthday breakfast, I couldn’t contain my happiness that it’s my day, hence, I shared with my roommate Chelsea and told her it will be between the two of us. I did not want to let all the people know that it’s my day (oh yeah?? Not used to a huge party on my birthday, except with family & very close friends)
I will forever be thankful to Chelsea for being there with me during this day and she even suggested a couple of things on what we should be doing or what I should want to do for the rest of the day.
We then agreed to try the cafe that her friend suggested, which in the location she sent it was near “Clay Studio” We walked by 20 minutes to the place searching for it, when we arrived in “Clay Studio” it was the same description that her friend suggested, so, we set in.
Clay Studio? My first thought was I bet it will just be the same cafe or some sort of restaurants nearby. I did not expect for it to be where I exactly want to be. It’s peaceful with the structure that’s a bit different from the rest of the restaurants or cafes I visited in the city. This is a garden oasis in the urban Chiang Mai. It is where I also first tasted the “blue” rice that is made of butterfly pea flower (boil the flower into the water, then pour the boiling water to the rice when cooking – an information given to us by the staff of the cafe). They serve fresh produce ingredients, which I highly suggest to try their curry with blue rice, which I partnered with Thai Ice Coffee.
We stayed around 4 hours here, including lunch time. I was delighted that Thailand Autrement’s (the sister company of the travel agency I’m working in the Philippines) General Manager Amelie came to join for my birthday lunch and surprised me with a birthday gift – a delicate scarf that I know I will be needing on my trips.
To end my day, I had an hour of Yoga Class from Yoga Freedom, still with Chelsea and wrap it up with a dinner of fresh Thai food from the open market near the hostel where we staying.
I find it an interesting birthday of my life, and I’m glad I voiced out to Chelsea.
This is my first ever birthday celebration outside my country. How about you? Have you tried celebrating your birthday unexpectedly outside your own country? Want to hear your stories, post your comment away.
P.S. A day after my birthday, I went to Mae Sot and personally meet Eishil, an amazing Filipino woman who shared all the experiences she had during her visit to Myanmar. Had blown my birthday candle with her, made some wish and ate ice cream chocolate cake (my favorite).
Author: Ferna Mae
Ferna is from the Philippines who travel spontaneously. Thrives to be more independent in her own skin. She first traveled The Philippines before she embarked to other countries. She believes that by traveling, her undying crave for learning excites her in a more profound way. Her flexibility had proven her that time is genuine. As a former tour guide in the Philippines, she hopes that her travel experiences will give value to the aspiring travelers. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org,