I'll admit, I had no idea what to expect of Thailand when I first contemplated going there. The only thing I had ever associated with it was magic mushrooms because of my research on the popular psychedelic strain known as Koh Samui. (I've always been a curious kid). Knowing that Thailand was near to China, and trying to imagine a place where potent shrooms grow in the wild, my mind decided that it must be a country full of open plains and pastures. I imagined herdsmen with triangular hats wandering endlessly through fields of tall grass, accompanied by a collection of unfamiliar animals.
I was working in the Philippines at the time for a film company called Bigfoot Studios. It was an odd location for a film studio to be located, but it was a pretty well-known operation to the people of the second-largest city in the country. Some 200+ employees worked there, from all ends of the Earth, and people were coming and going as if it were some destination hostel. I was hired to be a mentor in Motion Graphic Design, and to work with a team of production-savvy individuals to sharpen our skills and produce all kinds of creative content. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and deserves an article on its own, but my chapter there was short-lived.
After about two months of working for the company, I realized that I wasn't likely to earn much more than I was already earning, and that the whole production- as impressive as it was- was rather... disorganized. There was also no one there at the time who knew more about motion graphics than me, and I desired to get better. I originally signed on for a stay of six months and I didn't have a flight home until then, but my WANDRLUSTR mind started churning once I started to realize my future wouldn't be with Bigfoot.
I started plotting an escape. How often would I have the opportunity to be in Southeast Asia? So instead of waiting it out in the Philippines for four more months, I started asking around about places that might be worth seeing (or staying, I thought to myself). The overwhelming consensus seemed to be pointing to Thailand, and it wasn't long before I secretly began planning my exit strategy. I couldn't let anyone know I was leaving though because I didn't really have anymore money saved up, and if word got out that I was about to skip town, it might have meant the end of my paychecks too.
We were paid once a month, at the end of the month, and I was set to receive about $1,000 USD. Where I was working, it was common for employees to fly out and back into the country periodically, known as a visa-run, instead of paying a large fee to extend our tourist visas. And so I lined up a 10-day "visa-run" for the end of the month (overlapping payday) with two of my friends who were in on the scheme, so that I would get my final paycheck while in Thailand. It would be much needed, because I flew there with less than $100 USD. They would return to the Philippines and tell each person in the company a different story about why I didn't return, and I was to stay behind and find a way to sustain for three months until my flight back.
We traveled up and down the entire country for those 10 days, and the world I discovered was a mind-blowing difference from the grasslands I had imagined. Did I mention that this took place during the height of the attempted military overthrow of the government? Below is a video we made of our journey...