Moments of great appreciation within my life took place during my trip to the magnificent country of Thailand. Because I had not visited my parents’ home country many times throughout my life, I did not have any memories to base feelings of pride for my heritage. When my mom announced, during my sophomore year, that we would have to begin packing soon for the tickets that she had bought for Thailand, I vowed to skip the mundane sites such as beaches, and focus on the more unique side of Thailand, one of which was my visit to the “floating market”.
Having heard tales from my mother of the incredible trinkets that could be purchased from these places, from the hand-carved, wooden puppets to even instruments that made the croaking sounds of toads, I could not picture anything in my mind but the image of me being buried under heaps of souvenirs to take back to my classmates.
Even with my imagination getting ahead of me, I was brought back to reality by the gorgeous sea of vendors before me. Each vendor, atop a wooden boat, swayed in rhythm to the waves of the water. By themselves, the vendors were not remarkable as their statures and features all seemed quite similar, but as a mass of moving individuals, it was a captivating scene that left me breathless in wonder. It was like seeing an embodiment of the water itself, the very one on which we were treading, its mood reflected in the unhurried pace of the boats. This impression from the water was not one of apathy but of an assuredness that resonated within me, proving just how greatly nature was entwined with the Thai people, even in places used for commerce.
I also had the privilege of visiting the Emerald Buddha Temple. To enter this historical site, I was required to wear a patung skirt over my jeans because I was a young girl. This formality even in public has shown me just how much pride and honor is present in the Thai culture because no one was exempt from the same regulations that the native people had.
Ironically, the Emerald Temple, itself, was mostly comprised of gold, with high arches and steep towers practically draped in a cloak of gold flakes. I could only imagine how much dedication was put into these structures to make them so pristine in architecture. I saw these meticulous structures as a symbol of the appreciation the Thai people have for their heritage and religion. But at the end of a long day’s trek through the secondary temples and around the eleven-foot statues of Buddhist guardians, it was finally time for dinner!
Touching on the topic of food, with Thailand being best known for its intense spices, the most noteworthy dish was tom yum goong. An insatiably hot soup often including shrimp, the lime juice complemented the daring flavor with a spontaneous sourness, making a few members of my family pucker at odd times, an image so comical that I still chuckle thinking about it today. Ah, those fresh, exotic tastes and aromas were second to none!
My month in Thailand came to an end much too quickly, and when craving the adventure and discovery that is often amiss in my day to day routine, I think of Thailand automatically. By experiencing many events that the normal tourist would not have a chance, nor the time in their schedule, to even view, the trip was humbling, allowing me to better understand and be proud of my ancestral origins.
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