Northern Thailand's New Sights and Tastes - My Family Travels

The best vacation I have ever had was when I went to Thailand in 2003.  My mom had to write an article about it so I got to go with her.

Thailand is much cheaper than the U.S. In Bangkok, I went to a restaurant like McDonalds, but it was much cheaper. I got a kids’ meal for about 75 cents.  Then I went to a Baskin Robbins, and got a small ice cream cone for about a quarter. A donut on a stick was just 50 cents.

My favorite city is Chiang Rai in the northern part of Thailand. There are many hills in this area, and it is green and beautiful. 

In the hills of Thailand there are six hill tribes: the Ahka, Karen, Lisu, Yao, Hmong, and Lahu.  They have their own languages and customs. We went on a boat upriver to a Karen village. They had a big boa constrictor.  It was really gross, and I did not touch it.  In the Karen Village, I rode elephants.  It was not very fun because elephants take big steps, and so it kind of makes you sick. 

The teen life in the tribal villages is different than ours because they don’t have very nice homes. Sometimes they don’t even have homes.  In Thailand, though, you don’t have to worry about the children playing alone in the front yard because the parents know their children are safe and nobody is going to take them.

In the city, I went with my mom to a girls’ orphanage called the House of Grace. There were a lot of Akha girls around my age there, and some as young as age 6. They always smiled and I liked them. We played a lot of basketball together. The girls built their own basketball court, and it was a good one too. They thought my blond hair was the coolest thing. I let them have a couple of my hairs, and they thought that was cool. 

If you go to Thailand, bring lots of shorts and a few pairs of pants.  There is a lot to buy in Thailand and it is not expensive. I bought an Akha doll with a china face and Akha clothing. 

Thailand has a royal family, and I went to visit the Queen Mother’s gardens and home in the mountains. On the way home, we stopped at a market and they were selling wine with a big centipede in it. In Chiang Rai, I went to a night bazaar (an outside market with lots of vendors), and they were selling food that included bamboo larvae, and cooked crickets and grasshoppers. I tried one bamboo larvae, and it tasted a little bit like a French fry. 

It helps to know to know a few Thai words, such as “I don’t speak Thai”. You say it differently depending if you are a boy or girl. I met some friends in Chiang Rai who kept trying to teach me Thai words, but I couldn’t get it right. I kept practicing, and finally I learned several words. 

That was my trip to Thailand and I hope you get to go there some day.

Kirstin Graber is an 11-year-old living in New York City.  Her story was first published on in 2006.

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