Mai Pen Rai

 

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Sawadee ka from Bangkok, Thailand!

This trip has been so unimaginably awesome so far. Tomorrow will end week three of being here for me. I have learned so much and grown so much in these past three weeks that I never thought was possible. I have met so many awesome people, friends, locals, teachers, students, and most importantly our ISA resident director, Aaron aka P’A. This experience would not have been as amazing without everything he has done for our ISA group. So, let me tell you about some of the things I have experienced, food I’ve tried, culture, and much, much more!

My ISA group consists of 19 students from all over the United States. It is hard to describe how close knit our group has gotten just in these 3 weeks of being here in the unknown. The first day we arrived, we had a welcome orientation held by P’A. We talked about some cultural norms, do’s and don’ts, safety, basic language, and Thai life in general. After this orientation we loaded up into two vans and drove 2 1/2 hours outside of Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. When we arrived, we checked into our hotel, by the way it was so beautiful, so many gorgeous plants, trees, and scenery. We left for our first floating market, which was more unbelievable than I had ever imagined. I experienced so many different smells, foods, crowds of people, sights, and socializing with the locals. The next day we visited the Death Railways War Cemetery and Research Center. I learned so much about Thailand’s history here. It was so eye opening and stomach wrenching to see how people got treated.

After that, we took off to swim with elephants at Erawan National Park. We got to ride in the back of a pickup truck with benches and a safe overhead cover. This is one of the many popular forms of transportation utilized in Thailand. Swimming with the elephants was by far my favorite part of the whole trip so far. I had so much adrenaline the whole time! You don’t realize how huge those animals are until you are right up next to them and in the water with them. Eventually after they started warming up to us and vice versa, we got to ride them around in the water. They are such playful animals, they loved to dunk you under and try to knock you off. The owners of the elephants lived in little huts on the same land as the elephants, which I thought was so beautiful and different.

The next day we drove to a different part of Erawan National Park and hiked up 7 levels to the top of a gorgeous waterfall. It probably took an hour to hike up to the very top, and in the heat and humidity here it was not as easy as it sounds. But the second I reached the top and saw the scenery, every drop of sweat was worth it. The water was so clear and full of minerals. It was a little bit chilly but felt amazing. We had around 3 hours to hike around and do whatever we wanted, so we played around in the water, and I got some great shots of the views.

I also visited a temple cave during our Kanchanaburi trip. It was unbelievable to see such a huge Buddha in the cave, and so many people were in there peacefully meditating and worshiping the Buddha.

So there are a few things I have experienced throughout my first week here in Thailand. In my next few blogs I will expand more on the culture, food, Thai people, language, and life here in general.

Kop khun ka for reading, and always remember Mai Pen Rai. (This means “it is what it is,” a huge expression used, and lived by here in Thailand.)