I have returned from Thailand a different woman.
The land is absolutely beautiful, even the parts that were drastically damadged by the tsunami of 2004. Hearing first hand stories from locals that were caught in the storm and all that was lost was heart breaking, but also inspiring to hear of the courage and fight to go on.
The relgious faith and patriotic pride of the people is very strong. The beautiful temples, palaces and statues that were hand made and decorated where breath taking. I took over 1000 photos of the man made and natural beautiy of the country.
Experiences like jungle treking on an elephant, photos holding a monkey in the market and watching a caberet show preformed by what Thailand refers to as their "3rd gender" the transexuals was amazing. We also got to see a local boxing match called a "Muay Thai" fight.
The clubs sometimes don't shut down until 5 am and some don't close at all. We spent most of our trip travelling to small remot islands on a "long tail" boat to snorkle and swim, even though I got sacred and chickened out of actually snorkling.
This trip also tried me as a person when it came to bugs, lizards and frogs. I have a general fear of all 3 and when forced to stay in a beachside bugalow that was amazing during the day but frightening at night really pushed me. The frogs were along the dark lush paths to the bungalows, the area filled with bugs. Once inside the bungalow you could often find several lizards on the walls or ceilings. I know they are all part of life but sleeping knowing that there were critters all around me was very difficult. I did not come back completely curred of my fear, but I am much less jumpy and can keep calm around them now.
The way of life and the difference to here had the most effect on me. To see the poverty and struggle of a family or individual to survive was moving. The jobs and life style was nothing like hear at home and it really makes you greatful for all that you have. To see a 5 year old child barefoot selling flower lais in the street at 2 am made you wonder why they weren't safe at home in bed. Or a mother pushing her vendor cart at the end of the night with her child sitting on top made you realize that there was no where for her to leave them while she worked at night. The living quarters were often less than anything I have ever seen, but the happiness and faith they people had was great. I guess not only did the trip teach me a lot about Thailand and the way of life there, but it also pointed out the luxuries that one has here on the western side that we take for granted all the time.
I will post more pictures soon.