Ever dreamed that you could just take a year off work and travel the world? Ever wish that your passport were filled with stamps from far and distant lands? I know that this was always a dream of mine. And in 2009, my dream became a reality.I was headed on The World Race with the organization Adventures In Missions.
On January 4th, I put on my daypack and headed to the Miami airport to meet up with the rest of my crew. 54 of us were headed to the Dominican Republic for the first part of our 11-month trip around the world. My heart was beating at 100 beats per minute as adrenaline and fear pulsated through my veins.
Over the course of 323 days, I got to visit 19 countries where I felt broken, accomplished, homesick, at home and a whole mix of emotions. Each country had something different and exciting to bring along with a new lesson to learn. And though I would love to tell you every bit of my adventures, written out, it would become a book (which I don’t feel like writing today). But, I will share with you stories from one of my favorite countries, Thailand.
As soon as we arrived in South East Asia, I fell in love with the continent. It is full of culture, beauty, excitement and adventure. And though we didn’t have the accommodations of some fancy hotel when we first arrived, we did have a great welcome from the people at Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Bangkok.
Our time in Bangkok was spent between each ministry month, while in Asia. We got to do a temple tour, a scavenger hunt through the city and just enjoy some leisure time. We also did some ministry in Chiang Mai, which I enjoyed most. I won’t go so much into the ministry, which was building relationships with the students of Chiang Mai University. However, I will tell you the fun things I got to experience.
We stayed at the Lighthouse Hostel, which is near the Chiang Mai Gate (also known as the South Gate). This hostel had some pretty amazing accommodations; internet, washing machine, beverage fridge, television (in main room), fans to keep you cool from the heat and they also had tours/expeditions that you could go on. It was great too because it was in walking distance from the moat, located in the center of town.
We happened to be there during Songkran, a water festival celebrated April 13th through the 15th. To put it in lame terms, it is a countrywide water fight on what happens to be the hottest days of the year in Thailand. So, those days were more refreshing than anything and I wish Songkran had lasted our whole stay.
On Easter Sunday, we hiked the highest peak in Thailand, with our travel guide. The view from the top was superb. We enjoyed a nice picnic that we made for ourselves before heading back down. Then, a couple days later we went on an exuberant expedition; an elephant tour.
Early in the morning, our tour guide arrived at our hostel with water bottles and pad thai for later that day. We first stopped at a butterfly farm where we walked through colorful gardens full of butterflies and chrysalis. Our tour was to begin by us riding elephants but because there were people who had just arrived before us and our tour guide didn’t want to make us wait, he tweaked the order a bit. So, we went to cross the river first by cage. Basically, you are locked in a cage, dangling from a cable, high above the water and you pull yourself across. We then rode on the elephants, which seemed surreal. Following the elephant ride, we ate our lunch then headed on a hike to a waterfall then ended our trip with white water rafting (scale 3) and bamboo rafting. All in all, it was a lovely day.
If you want to know about food, Thailand has something to quench everyone’s appetite. From street vendors to markets to big names like Starbucks. I ate everything from your traditional pad thai to fried chicken with sticky rice to buffalo wings. Almost anywhere you go, you can find vendors selling fresh fruit that taste like it is straight off the tree or vine. At the markets, you can find foods to cook up yourself or find street vendors. Near the Thapae gate in Chiang Mai, you can find some nicer restaurants like Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant. This place had amazing Mexican cuisines that you wouldn’t expect to find in Asia. Another place that I think you must try, especially if you are craving something that reminds you of home, is The Duke’s, which is located in Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar or near River Ping.
Thailand had a lot too offer. Whether you are looking for a vacation to just relax, wanting to do something wild, tour the temples or enjoy some great eats, Thailand is sure to satisfy your demands.
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