Memories: lost in the sun 

There are moments on this holiday that I want engraved in memory forever. But without the time to write them in a journal I wonder if I will remember exact joy, smells, heat in a few years or even weeks time.

And if so, I wonder if they will be romantised versions. Hotter? Funnier? Longer? And then whether that is such a bad thing after all.

One story comes to mind in particular. We had just finished spending the day in Splash Jungle Waterpark. My friend had researched a local beach being a short walk away from there. So we set off in the hunt for this beach. Bare in mind: our hotel is on a beach resort, we could have got a shuttle back to the hotel, I am wearing a full black scuba outfit that is still a little damp and very uncomfortable.

After a 10 minute walk we take a right. It looks like a road not walked often but then again most people probably go back to their hotel after the park so that would make sense. The further we walk the more and more sand coveres the road ’till we are walking on just sand. Sand that’s being heated by the rays of peak, midday sun. All of us are wearing sandles and as the sand comes into them the souls of our feet are burning. We couldn’t stop to think because the sand was too hot to stop on. The only viable option was to keep going. Because sand must mean water?

Another half an hour walking in direct heat on torturous sand. At this point we looked like we had just come out of the sea – all covered in sweat. I was sweating from places I didn’t know could sweat!

We end up at the boundary of the airport.  This doesn’t seem too hopeful but at least now weave a gate we can walk alongside. So we keep on.

At this point we are a little delirious. We play music and my friend starts marching commanding us to march behind her. And we do. Marching to “you don’t gotta go to work, work, work, work, work, work, work”. On we marched, too invested to turn around.

Until we came to a dead end. This is after an hour of walking which doesn’t seem like much now but in that environment and in that outfit it might as well been a whole day.

So back we turned. Still marching as it’s the only way we could keep going.

After the painful march back we found someone’s house. I collapsed onto the floor, not even caring about the ants and the dog glaring at me. The owner came out and we asked if he knew the nearest taxi place. But of course he did not understand English and we did know Thai. So on we went again back to the park.

Here we had missed the last shuttle by one minute and had to wait another half an hour before a taxi came by.

Somewhere along that journey I lost my sunglasses and I have no idea where. I also burnt my face and feet – but am thankful I did not have a heatstroke.

We can laugh about it now but I do wonder what would have happened if one of us had fainted or we got attacked or accused of trying to enter the restricted. And I wonder how I will remember this story in a few weeks, months and then years

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Travelling 

Whilst everyone has long forgotten about the Easter weekend, returned back to work or realised they have even less time for their deadlines than they thought – I am still on holiday. In fact I am currently getting my foot massaged in Thailand.

And that’s given me some time to reflect on travelling with friends, travelling whilst visibily Muslim and travelling whilst attempting to observe the hijab.

Travelling with friends is a type of fun you just don’t get when you’re with family. Whether that be staying out late, just the jokes or the type of activities you’re able to get up to. In particular to my case – I don’t even have to worry about the holiday as I have a friend who likes organising. No need to book hotels, search for things to do or worry about routes. Being the eldest in my family, that was my role when we travelled – and boy was it stressful. Fun but stressful. I like having the mental capacity to completely enjoy myself.

All the friends I am travelling with are Muslim. But, unlike me, they all either don’t wear the hijab or are happy to take it off if they feel necessary. I on the other hand will never take off my hijab. My hijab is a part of my identify that I am not willing to compromise on that.

This does make it awkward when going to the beach or water parks. I do have a full length swimming outfit (basically a scuba divers outfit) but I feel super visible when I’m dressed like a sushi and everyone else look like salmon. This is already a massive compromise since I typically wear flowy outfits. I need to invest in one of those burkanise everyone is talking about!

It’s even worse when my friends went clubbing and essentially refused to take me if I kept my hijab on. I have been dancing before and regularly go to bars with work. It does make me uncomfortable and I would rather go somewhere where alcohol – and the atmosphere that surrounds such places – was not so prominent. But I do go along nonetheless. I’m sure clubbing would have made me feel very uncomfortable. I’m sure I would have felt like sushi. But it should have been me and not my friends who policed my faith.

Perhaps I should have started this post with dear diary…