In early 2016, I traveled to Bangkok with two of my co-workers to visit a local apparel production factory. Thailand had been on a short list of places I was so excited to visit, and this opportunity felt full of promise and luck. In the end, my short visit to the amazing city ended up being my first time experiencing extreme travel fatigue. So it will continue to live on my list of places to visit, so that I can do it properly next time!
We arrived in Bangkok after a full week of business travel already behind us. Our first stop had been through Hanoi, where all of our luggage was lost for three days. The stress of not having your own professional attire, toiletries and undergarments was weighty. We had to cancel our first morning of meetings to ask someone to take us to a local shop, where we could purchase socks, bras and pants that weren’t just stretchy travel tights. We wanted to look buttoned up for our client visits, but sizing in Vietnam is very different from sizing in the US. I typically wear a size small or medium in the US, and I ended up fitting into their extra-large undergarments. On top of that, the only professional clothes we could find that fit us were men’s garments. We looked odd, but at least we weren’t still in our long-worn airplane gear.
We finally received our bags on the fourth day in Hanoi, just in time for us to check out of our hotel and head to the airport for our next flight to Seoul. Heading toward another two-hour time difference, we were prepared to battle some more fatigue. In Seoul, we luckily all had our bags arrive with us, but because we were only there for one day, it was another kind of stress on our bodies. Finally feeling like we had some respite from the stress of missing our own belongings, we were now in the busiest and most chaotic part of our trip. So we squeezed in meetings, lunches and dinners in a very short amount of time before getting on the next airplane.
By the time we arrived in Bangkok, we were all mentally exhausted. Managing our stress while appearing calm, cool and collected in front of our business partners had been a lot to take on. We were all so excited for a day over that weekend to just explore Bangkok, eat some amazing Thai food and be tourists. The morning we spent together, walking through the city, exploring some amazing locations was beyond words. I felt grateful and humbled to have the opportunity to travel to places like Bangkok for work, and we were blown away by the architecture, spirituality and beauty of the area.