The first time I went to Thailand was about 9 months ago, and man oh man did I fall head over heels. I mean what’s not to love, the warm climate, beautiful beaches, friendly people, delicious food, it’s my little paradise on the other side of the world. It was NOT love at first sight though, and I’m going to write a longer blog post later about my entire experience traveling there, from start to finish! Until then, I want to share with you guys some photos from my first Thailand experience, and tell you a few stories as I go. Hopefully you’ll see why I love this country with all my heart, so much so that I’m moving there in August to teach English! *Part 1 of a three part series*
My first excursion in Thailand, visiting Big Buddha! And believe me, when they call it big, they ain’t lying! To give you guys an idea of the scale, the statue is around 75 ft wide, and a whopping 138 ft high!
I felt so tiny next to Big Buddha! Those are a few kids from my group in the right, learning how to pray to the Buddha image. (Something that I noticed in Thailand is that the Thai people never call him “Buddha” but rather “the Buddha image.”)
Ayutthaya, a must see attraction in Thailand, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That’s me on the right looking out over my kingdom! 😉
Ok this is pretty cool, a Buddha Head encased in tree roots, located at Ayutthaya. No one knows exactly how this phenomena happened, but to me it’s a beautiful example of a human creation and nature becoming intertwined over time. The Buddha looks so happy and at peace with the fact that it is being hugged by the tree, like the two were meant to be together from the very beginning.
These two photos were taken at Wat Phra Phutthabat, or The Temple of the Buddha’s footprint. It was a stunningly beautiful (but hot!) day. If you look in two photos on the right you can see three staircases. I forget the exact order, but if you walked down one staircase it meant luck in your love life, if you walked down another one it meant luck in your professional life, and the last last staircase meant luck in your… honestly I completely forget. But something about having luck in another part of your life! I made sure to go down all three staircases, I could use all the luck I can get! (One weird sidenote about the heat, I was sucking down bottles of water in Thailand like it was going out of style. Seriously I drank more water in the three weeks I spent there than I do in three months at home, around 8 bottles a day. I had to, it was so flippin hot it was either drowning in water or dehydration. So, of course, drinking all that water I thought I’d be peeing every 5 minutes, which I was NOT looking forward to because we went on a lot of long bus rides and having to stop the entire bus to take a pee break would have been pretty awk. But surprisingly I found I actually used the bathroom LESS because I was sweating so much that my body was actually using up all that water! Something I hadn’t experienced before until I visited this hot tropical climate, THE MORE YA KNOW I guess!)
The actual Buddha footprint on the left (so beautifully gold and sparkly) and something resembling the footprint outside the temple, where you had to try to make your coin stand up so your wish would be granted!
MONKEY TOWNNNN!!! I kept hearing from the leaders of the program I was on that we would be visiting this place called “Monkey Town.” Now, in my head, when I was picturing this famed location, I was imagining a very controlled environment, with a someone along the lines of a zookeeper there to hold the monkeys so we could pet their little heads and maybe even feed one a cracker. Good Lord how wrong I was. Monkey Town is as exotic and chaotic as it sounds, with the monkeys literally running the place. They scamper in and out of shops, hopping on the backs of taxis and tuk tuks, swinging from the electrical wires, and, if you’re not careful, they’ll swing from person to person in your group. Definitely not an experience you would have in America! (Can you imagine the lawsuits?) But I got to hold this cute little baby monkey, who, about 5 seconds after the picture was taken, stole that entire bag of sunflower seeds right out of my hands. Dang monkeys!
The highly revered King and Queen of Thailand, who actually don’t look anything like this anymore. Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, is 88 years old, and his wife, Sirikit, is 83! Obviously they want the Thai people and visitors to view them as the youngins they once were, seriously, their pictures are all over Thailand, and not one of them depicts the royal couple in their old age. Which is understandable I guess, if your picture is going to be displayed on giant billboards all over the country you definitely want to be looking your sharpest, but the Thai King is the world’s longest-serving current head of state, you gotta own it man! (I’ll get back to you when I make it big and am appearing on 90 ft billboards across the US, maybe my opinion will have changed 😉 ) As I mentioned, the King and Queen of Thailand are highly revered, and you can actually get in a lot of trouble for saying anything bad about the monarchy. (Just ask this guy, who was arrested for “liking” a Facebook page that insulted the King’s dog. Yea, you read that right, his dog.) Just from my own experience though, I got the sense that the Thai King and Queen are good people, we visited a few of their “projects,” which included an elephant sanctuary for abused elephants, and a embroidery center for women to earn money through their beautiful needlework. (Another reason to love the Thai King, he was born and raised in Boston, MA, my home, how cool is that? His dad was attending college at Harvard University.)
This was the truck we were towed around in my first week in Thailand, the seats were just two long, hard benches, and the roads are pretty unstable so we were tossed around a lot. But with the windows thrown wide open, a cool breeze saved us from the stifling stillness of the heat, and you could smell the flowers in the air and hear birds chirping and people calling to each other, so I’d say on the back of a rickety old bus is the best way to experience the Thai countryside. There are very few driving laws in Thailand, and even fewer are enforced, so none of us wore seatbelts, and our two Thai leaders hung casually off the back of the truck.
The famous floating markets! This was something I wish I had gotten to experience more of, I only visited one, in a smaller Thai town, so very different from the larger more bustling floating markets in Bangkok. It was still pretty cool though, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and I got a delicious smoothie while I was there. This was also where I discovered that you have to pay to use public bathrooms in Thailand, and they do not always contain toilet paper. (Culture. Shock.) Fear not though, a girl in my group had stuck some tissues in her purse, so we were good!
Yummy yum yum, Thai BBQ! I couldn’t even tell you what I barbecued there was SO MUCH FOOD to choose from, a ton of different types of meat, vegetables, even desserts. In the water surrounding the grill thingy in the middle was where you cooked your ramen noodles. Also in the picture on the right, in the bottom right corner, you can see my plate, which I’m ashamed to say is filled with french fries. Funnily enough there were a few French people that I was traveling with (including the guy in the forefront of the picture on the left and the girl posing with me in the picture on the right) and they could not BELIEVE Americans call them “French” fries, considering they are not considered a French creation at all. Oh well, it was a nice reminder of home after the massive amounts of Thai food I’d been eating all week! Also notice that we are all drinking water out of plastic water bottles, this is because tap water in Thailand is not safe to drink.
Me getting a dance lesson from some adorable Thai children in their beautiful dance outfits. We had to step in between those wooden poles as the two boys holding the ends of the poles opened and closed them to the beat. I was certain I’d be the only one to get my legs crushed, but my little dance partner was a good teacher and we pranced through them successfully!
I’m looking a little rough in this picture but it’s one of my favorites from my first week in Thailand. This is me posing with the two Thai women who were my group’s fearless leaders for the week. That’s Benz on the left, and GT on the right. They were incredibly kind, thoughtful, and smart, I feel like I learned so much about Thai society and culture from them. They answered any questions we had, and made sure all of us felt safe and comfortable in our new surrounding. So grateful to have met them, hoping we’ll meet again some day!
And finally, a shoutout to the amazing group of kids I traveled with my first week in Thailand! (Pictured above outside Buddha’s Footprint, and below on our last night traveling together.) Our group included people from France, England, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Israel, Norway, Germany, UAE, and the Netherlands. Even though I was the only American I felt right at home with these people, and learned so much about all their different homelands.
Until we meet again!
I was lucky enough to spend three beautiful weeks in Thailand, with three different groups of people, in three different parts of the country. This P1 documents my first week, which was spent in and around the province of Sing Buri. P2 and P3 of this series coming soon!
profound crazy/funny/weird thoughts and opinions are entirely my own, it’s just how I roll