Trip Leaders: Carla Constantino & Clair Quenzler
Right now, the group is probably thinking: “Did we really go?” Upon return, the holidays were coming and now it seems like Thailand was almost a dream. The country is literally half way around the other side of the planet. Bangkok is unlike the rest of the country. It is like going to New York City and saying: “This is America.” It is but only one slice. We did everything from visiting Buddhist Temples to petting tigers to seeing Hill Tribe villages with no indoor plumbing. While we got a broad view of Thailand, we saw only a ‘slice’. I asked the group to tell us some of their most memorable experiences.
Actually touching real live tigers ranked high among the trippers. Right along with this, people felt the ‘Alms Giving’ was a most memorable experience. At dawn, we meet the Buddhist Monks walking barefoot down from the Monastery in their orange robes. This occurs all over Thailand every single morning. People gather to ‘give alms’ providing the Monks with just the food they need for the day. After placing the food into their ‘begging bowl’, you receive a blessing from the Monk. Whether you are Thai or Buddhist, a tourist or anyone, this custom gives you a tiny ‘slice’ of a Monk’s life. If you ever get the chance to give Alms, do it. It will move you no matter what your beliefs.
Hani Agrama and most people loved the overnight train because it is not how we typically travel. Once boarded and rolling, it was one big happy hour for hours! Whether you slept soundly or not, the train took us from Bangkok to Chaing Mai overnight thus not spending precious waking hours on the bus. (Hours on a bus is one downside of trying to see a whole country in less than two weeks.)
Nancy Flickinger said one thing that surprised her about Thailand was: “Thailand has a ruling monarchy and from everything we saw the people adore and honor their royalty. Slavery is wrong on all accounts but the explanation that Dom gave about how a previous king abolished slavery through a staggered method seemed to be a good workable solution.”
People totally enjoyed the Elephant Camp. We rode elephants and saw how a real community of people, many who live on the property, cares for and values these fabulous animals. And so smart – did you know elephants can paint beautiful pictures?
Mary Slicis was surprised by the long-tailed speedboat ride to the Floating Market. (I was too.) The canals were lined with lush green land and wooden houses showing us a very different way of life along the waterways in Thailand. It looked like a very calming, serene place to live.
One thing that shocked everyone was the Train Track Market. If you Google this, you will see the train come through but this pales in comparison to seeing the amount of raw exotic meats and fish sitting out all day in the open air at 80-90 degrees ready for purchase. By our standards, these people should be dead from eating that stuff!
We saw a LOT of Buddhist temples, all beautiful. The one that stands out to the Megregian’s (and most of us) is the White Temple. It looks like it is completely frozen with snow and ice crystals. Truly exquisite.
Fred Hammett was not prepared to see so many 7-11’s (nor were the rest of us). There are as many in Thailand as in all the United States. It was a regular stop to get snacks and drinks. This was an unexpected surprise but we welcomed this familiar site with familiar U.S. products.
We could go on and on. We bonded as travelers. We shared a ‘slice’ of Thailand that broadened our view of the world. Between all of us, we have thousands of pictures to help us remember it was not a dream.
One last thought. If you hear one of us refer to the ‘Happy Room’, it is because our guide, Dom, used this term for the restroom. He constantly said: “Does anyone need the Happy Room? And some Happy Paper?” It makes us smile to remember this along with our overall happy experience.
Carla & Clair