Thailand, a country where innovation meets tradition and where a Buddhist temple can neighbor a massive sky scrapper, is one of the most fascinating places in the world. Thailand brims with diversity, as well as a multiplicity of culture, language, and art. The moment I stepped out of Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport and into Thai domain, I knew that this vacation was going to be like no other.
So let me introduce myself. I am a lanky, freckled, Texas-proud 14 year old about to enter into the ninth grade. Previous family vacations included Denver, Boston, and Miami. Just the typical American family vacation spots. But one day my father came home from work and proudly announced to us that our next family vacation would not be to New York City or Honolulu, but to Bangkok, Thailand. Initially, I was appalled. I could not begin to comprehend the reasoning behind his decision to venture off to an outlandish city. But who would’ve known that this little freckled Texas girl was about to embark on a journey that would forever change her perspective on life?
My first few days in Thailand were filled with bewilderment and confusion. I constantly questioned my father [a very experienced foreign traveler] how people could live this way. One memory sticks out in my mind—The Taling Chan floating market. Merchants use boats that are laden with a variety of merchandise from fruit to flowers. The merchants ride along the waterway bartering and trading their products with others. As tourists, my father thought this was definitely a must-see in our trek of Thailand.
Accompanied by a tour guide we entered a creaky wooden boat and began our adventure through the murky waters of the floating market. As we traveled up and down strips of water, I took in my surroundings. On the banks of the rivers were small homes, supported by flimsy stilts corroded from the constant ripple and sway of current. One in particular caught my attention; It had a small dock that looked ready to collapse at any minute. As I observed the home in all its dilapidated glory, a door from the house burst open, and out came three young children who immediately dashed across the dock and leaped into the murky waters below. The scene left me dumbstruck ‘How could they be swimming in that and be so happy? That just does not make sense… Can we have some chlorine please?’ But suddenly, I had an odd inclination to join them and it puzzled me. As we traveled further, I noticed more people wandering along the riverside, happily chatting and laughing amongst themselves and again I found myself longing to join them. We soon arrived at a small, busy, river-side market.
At the marketplace, the pungent aromas of spice and incense filled my nose and sweat trickled down my forehead. It was all so strange to me, but when I stepped into the riverside market, I understood why my father chose such a place. I observed my surroundings: I saw smiling faces, laughing children, grungy tables and dirty floors. Right then I decided to change my attitude. I realized this was a great opportunity to learn and acquire new perspectives on life. These people lived in some of the worst conditions, yet were able to look past that and be content with their lives.
“ One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” — Henry Miller
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