32 days ago I was standing in the international terminal of LAX.. crying. I was terrified. Angry for putting myself in this situation, boarding a plane heading 8,000 miles away to live in yet another jungle.. this time by myself. The only thing that really got me here was a quote I had read several months ago:
Fear can do crazy things to your mind. You can be a slave to the doubts that you create, or you can live. I’m so glad I chose to live. I learned so much about myself over the past month. I became completely comfortable sitting in a restaurant alone. I proved that I am strong enough to go head to head with shady taxi drivers.. and win. I explored cities, I made new friends, I went at my own pace, I got lost but always found my way. I met 11 beautiful elephants that now have a permanent home in my heart and I think I made their life a little better during the time I spent with them.
So thank you, Thailand, for your warm welcome and good food. I think that just maybe, we might be soul mates.
With the nickname “land of smiles,” you certainly lived up to your reputation. From the little old lady who grinned at me while patting my arm for the 2 whole hour bus ride, to the train conductor who kindly shared a stick of gum with me for no reason; I’ve come in contact with the nicest and most helpful people. When I was lost in Attuthaya, 5+ people asked me if I needed help and although we didn’t share the same language, their points in the right direction, and the sweet woman who took it upon herself to walk with me, got me to my guesthouse in one piece. When I drove around in the back of any car, there were at least 2-3 people yelling hello as they passed on motorbikes, or groups smiling and waving from road. It’s such a change of pace from Los Angeles, where I don’t think I’ve ever even looked my neighbor in the eye. The hospitality and friendliness of the Thai people made me feel welcome and safe, especially on my first trip traveling alone.
You Know How to Pamper
I can’t even begin to talk about your massages without tearing up a little. Even though I never ventured past the basic foot massage (I want to save some things for next time), I don’t feel shorted at all. I got a massage on every free day that I had, and none of them cost more than $7. The cheapest, and best one I found was $4.50! I’m already starting to feel the withdrawals coming on, and I might have to put my boyfriend through massage school to support my new addiction.
(10baht is 30 cents)
You Like to Party
Cheap alcohol, live music, karaoke parties on the bus, full moon raves; you know how to get down. I just recently discovered the joy that is Thai cover bands, and my world was turned upside down. How did I ever think I knew what entertainment was before this?
Obviously. People come from far and wide to marvel at your jungles, temples and beaches. You have a little bit of everything and you are simply stunning.
Before this trip, the extent of my Thai food knowledge was my local delivery joint, Curries Thai Bistro which I’m pretty sure is run by Armenians. Real Thai food is a full moon party in your mouth. With the average dish ranging from 50-100 baht ($1.50-$3) it’s a miracle that I’m not being rolled out of the country tomorrow. But that’s the best part! Everything is made from real ingredients and with all the work I did at Elephant’s World, I think I actually lost a few pounds.
I’m so impressed with the effort you put toward taking care of your beautiful country. At Erawan Falls there was a mandatory bottle deposit, where visitors pay 20baht to bring a waterbottle in; only to be refunded when they brought it back out with them! Genius!! Why is the rest of the world not on this level? I saw plastic bags laying out to dry at local homes because people reuse them, and very little litter in the streets.
But we need to talk about the elephants..
For being the symbol of your country, elephants sure get the short hand of the stick. Instead of using them to work and perform for visitors, we need to think of a way to preserve the species and cherish the elephants we have left. There are less than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the world and we need to act fast.