In an embarking journey through a Thailand, I experienced many traditions that are not common in the United States. Bangkok had a lot of skyscrapers, people, and traffic. I was surprised to witness people in long pants walking around in ninety-eight degree weather yapping on their cell phones in a different language and rushing to an unknown place. There were little boys and girls roaming around in groups wearing their school uniforms. Stray animals looked for scraps of food while walking around busy vendors. I was overwhelmed by my new surroundings but fascinated by all the people.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
That night my family and I decided to walk around and look for a restaurant. As I glanced at my surroundings I noticed that the city was alive with people on the grimy, littered streets trying to sell everything from dog toys to used clothes. I stopped at a table where a woman was selling something in a small cage; after looking closer, I realized that the woman was selling baby chicks. Startled, I quickly looked away to a long line of people that lead to a man who was selling fried scorpions to eat, and after seeing the eight legged scorpion burnt to a crisp on a stick, I wasn’t hungry anymore. We stopped at a market where a bunch of open stalls offered food I have never seen before. At the first stall I saw a dead duck hanging by its neck; I quickly walked past it and settled on a booth that sold rice. My first day in Thailand was exhausting.
The next day I walked out of the St. Regis hotel, a girl around my age bowed and opened the door for me. I turned around and asked her what there was to do in Bangkok. She responded by saying that she didn’t get out much and that right after school she came to the hotel and worked until eleven at night. Stunned, I asked her what she did with her weekends, and she said that money was tight in her family, and she had to take care of her younger siblings. After talking to the young girl, my family joined me on the sidewalk; a tuk-tuk stopped in front of us, and a skinny boy riding the tuk-tuk asked if we wanted a ride. My family jumped in and told him to take us to the Siam Paragon. Once we got there, I asked him how much we owed him. He said that his family was struggling to pay their bills so the cost was based on donations. I thought about how easy my life was compared to the lives of these children and I understood how truly different our worlds were.
For the remainder of our vacation I thought about the boy and the girl, and I decided that I was blessed to be on this vacation because it is an opportunity for me to experience new people. I embraced the different culture, and I tried new things like riding on an elephant and going to a Buddhist temple. Seeing the less fortunate living on the streets, I felt sympathy and gave them spare change or food. After seeing so many people struggling to survive, it made me realize how lucky I am that my parents’ work hard to support my family. Even though I live in an area with many fortunate people, there are many people having trouble putting food on the table. The working children taught me that not everything comes easy in life and that I must grab a good opportunity when it appears.
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