I will admit that just a few years ago I was scared to travel to Asia. I know some of you may feel the same way. I grew up in the middle of Kansas. Seriously, I heard about sushi my freshmen year of college. I didn’t even have a chance to try it until 2 years later. So when you add in curries, seafood soups, noodles, more noodles, and even spicier curries it’s a little overwhelming. Of course that is just the food. The languages are intimidating and the only people I knew that went to Asia were missionaries that would come back every 4 years wearing long skirts and no make-up. No thanks. I’m not for sure what changed but when you start to travel you want to experience it all. Being outside of one’s comfort zone can be addicting. I know that 2 weeks in Thailand makes me NO expert. In fact I could be more confused than when I arrived but I’m learning.
Some observations from the trip:
Thai people (at least in Koh Samui) live and work in the open air. It’s hard to distinguish between houses and a place of business as everything seems to flow into each other. Windows and doors are always open and we did not eat in one restaurant that had walls. Some places had sliding garage doors that would close off a kitchen or important location but otherwise it was open. Driving down side streets I became a creepy tourist as I could peer into every home and see people moving about. One of my friends saw a guy taking a shower outside with a hose (swim trunks on).
The people are very small. We are giants.
If you smoke in a taxi you will be struck by a lightening bolt.
I have never encountered more smiles from a group of people. We learned to say “Thank You” in Thai very quick. Everywhere we turned they were thanking us and beaming. Literally all the time. I saw a billboard that declared Thailand to be the “Land of Smiles” (it might have been an advert for Canon but that is irrelevant).
Cats running around in restaurant kitchens is acceptable.
Dogs lazing under my table and trying to lick me is normal. (Admittedly this was the most horrific experience of the trip. I could deal with everything else but I almost had a panic attack when a dog came near me.)
I suck at bartering and would be broke after a couple of months.
Massages are so cheap! $10 for an hour long session is considered mid-range! No wonder people smile so much. I actually asked for a 30 minute session because we were running low on time. I’m assuming this question had never been asked because she really didn’t have a response in English. Her face said “Are you dumb? We have a one hour special-price-massage and there is no way we can just do half. Impossible.” I went with the hour.
I encountered a massive amount of cultural input in the last week and a half. At the end of our trip Sam and I were having dinner on top of one of the tallest buildings in Bangkok watching the sun set on skyscrapers. I was awestruck. It wasn’t the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen but that moment with Sam was a moment that I had never even envisioned. As a girl I don’t think I knew anything about Thailand. I might have thought it was a city in China. That rooftop sunset was a realization that adventure is experiencing the unexpected. And that there is an exciting and beautiful plan for life. The moment a dream becomes reality before we even knew it was a desire. Thank you.