Traveling outside the country for the first time by ones self is an eye opening experience. When I was a senior in high school, there was a Thai exchange student in my physics class who I befriended as the year progressed. She came back to finish the rest of her high school years (two years) and her finally year, last summer, I went home with her, her mom (who came for her graduation) and her younger sister (who came for high school).
My friend, her family and a close family friend took me places to visit. I was able to see the floating market in Damnoen Saduak http://www.bangkok.com/beyond-the-city/damnoensaduak.html and I was able to see how the markets were done and still are done. The one thing I did not like about the floating market was how close to the water you are and walking in and out of the boats was a little scary but fun in the long run.
I was also taken to the Erawan Museum http://www.thailandsworld.com/index.cfm?p=522 which has a statue of a three-headed elephant (the sacred animal of Thailand) with many points of symbolism pointed to Buddhism, Hinduism and the Thai culture. I learned “how to” pray in front of a ‘shrine’ while at the Museum and trying my luck at seeing what my fortune was.
I also visited the Ancient City or Ancient Siam (the original name of Thailand) http://thailandforvisitors.com/central/bangkok/ancientcity/index.html which has miniaturized versions of buildings, palaces, temples and other monuments on display for the general public to visit and see. This is such an amazing place because of all the history, symbolism and artistic talent/architecture.
Another amazing piece of architecture is the Grand Palace http://www.tourismthailand.org/attraction/bangkok-10-3043-1.html which is amazing as it is the last palace that was used and is connected to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha http://www.sacred-destinations.com/thailand/bangkok-wat-phra-kaew-emerald-buddha where there is a throne room where the King of Thailand is made King.
I also went to a show called “Tiffany’s Show” which was a transexual performance that was amazingly awesome. I could not believe how feminine some of the men looked. There were a couple that could be identified as men but other where so transformed as men, it was amazing.
- The family was nice enough to include me on their trip to Phuket, Thailand which is an island off the West Coast of the Southern tip of Thailand. I was able to see the James Bond Island http://www.jamesbondisland.com/, I was able to see the Phuket December 2004 tsunami memorial http://www.kophuket.com/phuket/homemenu/tsunami-commemoration.html (which was simply amazing), rode on a canoe for the first time http://www.phuket-travel.com/kayaking/starlight.htm on the ocean which was awesome yet scary by hoping to not be tossed in the water with electronics that cost a lot of money.
- Also was able to see one of the famous marinas in Phuket http://phuketdir.com/ppislandtour/
- I think that one of my most favorite parts of being in Phuket, was the FantaSea show/Palace of the Elephants Theater http://www.phuket-fantasea.com/ that had so many aspects of the Thai culture tied into it, with so many amazing performances, this is one show that I would dearly love to go back and watch again (even if it was expensive).
There are many other things that I did but these are the ones that really stood out, adventures that I will remember for the rest of my life. I really enjoyed this trip because it taught me a lot about a different culture compared to that of the “standard” culture I seem to find in the United States. I really want to go back to Thailand becuase is such an amazing country. I want to travel more of the country as I mainly was in Bangkok and in Phuket. I want to travel to the Northern regions to explore the jungles and life style that is present there.
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