When I booked my trip to Bangkok, it was after weeks of agonising.
Guilt over leaving the children, even though they would be safe at home with their Dad.
Guilt about doing something purely for myself, rather than family or work-related business/interests or study.
Worry about money and timing.
But then the planets aligned, and Carolyn and I were able to take time off at the same time as Bangkok-based Ian had a week's holiday. Better yet, he was willing to devote it to showing us around, and in his words, 'spoiling us'. It seemed like a sign.
It came to pass that Thai Airways were offering super cheap flights at the same time. And one day, with a few clicks of the mouse, and via the magic of Zuji, the tickets were ours.
Oh my goodness, this thing was finally happening. We'd been talking about doing it for years, but it was one of those things that had been put into the 'one day' basket.
And then the emails between Thailand and Australia began flying back and forth.
We were all friends from high-school, who had found each other via the magic of Facebook. Living in South East Queensland, Carolyn and I had caught up a few times in recent years, and even attended a high school reunion together.
But we hadn't seen Ian in around 25 years, although, of course, modern technology made it easy to revive the friendship.
Still, that's not the same as flying to another country to see that person, spend a week with him, stay at his home, and be a part of his life. Practically 24-7.
It could have been a disaster. And yet, it was magical.
Since high school, we'd all gone on to achieve incredible highs, and unendurable lows. We had each made small humans, all now at various stages of growing up. Hell, Carolyn is even a grandmother to an adorable one-year-old. She is the grooviest grandma I know.
And I discovered that our life experiences had made us even more awesome than we were in high school. With even more in common. And there was much to admire all round.
There were no awkward moments. The moments that could have been awkward, were met only with laughter. Or understanding. Or both.
And the laughter. I only have to look at the expression on my face in photos taken over the past week, to see that I've rediscovered the old Bronnie, the Bronnie I thought I'd lost when life belted it out of me.
Yes, my inner child is back. The inner well of fun. loving kindness to self, and fulfillment has been topped up. And happiness rediscovered.
Carolyn and Ian say they feel the same.
Another highlight, was meeting Ian's partner, Lee. I can't say enough about Lee, who is one of the most clever, kind, talented and funny people I have ever met. Lee put up with our antics with good grace and humour. And so our holiday was about reconnecting not just with an old friend, but making a new one as well.
Then there were Ian's expat family: A group of fabulous and funny people who made us feel at home instantly. No wonder they are like family to him.
The funny thing is, I travelled through Thailand many times in my younger, more cashed-up and adventurous days, but I've never enjoyed it as much as I have on this visit.
Visiting with locals, I saw and learned more than I did in months of backpacking as a keen young traveller Way Back When. Or staying at posh hotels, doing guided tours, and eating at 'safe' restaurants when I was more financial.
With Ian and his friends' help, we learned so much about the culture and way of life, that we could never have otherwise experienced. From the best (and cheapest) Thai food at the most unlikely 'rickety' restaurant, to the poshest bar in the city, Bangkok's famous Sky Bar, we experienced it all. We even learned a few rude Thai words!
I am sure I spent less too. It was amazing how the price drops when someone speaks Thai! But Ian and Lee also made sure the Thai people got good deals too, which made it fair all round.
Last night, at midnight, Carolyn and I said our goodbyes, boarded another Thai Airways flight, and winged our way back to Brisbane. And reality.
A world where a wonderful woman named Pun will not teach me how to make traditional Thai dishes (and do my laundry when I'm out). Where handsome and clever gentlemen will not open my door, or hold my hand whilst I'm stepping off and on boats,or falling into ditches (and there are a few in Bangkok). Where women with magic hands will not massage me into a blissed-out version of my usual self.
On the plus side, I get to hug my kids again, who I've missed desperately. And I hope that the new Bronnie, complete with Inner Child, I found in Bangkok boarded the plane too.
And next time, I'm bringing the kids with me!
At Chatuchak Weekend Market, Thailand's largest.
At DJ Station, a drag queen show in Bangkok. Because Whitney Houston had died that day, they did a tribute show featuring Whitney at various stages of her life. (I cannot believe I knew the words to all of her songs ...)
Carolyn and I on the river on our way to visit some of the temples.
Dressed up with somewhere to go
Shopping at a REAL floating market, about 2 hours out of Bangkok. This one is not included on the package tours and was a fabulous experience.
The Sky Bar, one of the world's best bars, which was also featured in the Hangover 2 movie. Amazing.
Clearly, there are more photos and posts to come. You have been warned ...