What I Did on My Trip to Thailand

Twenty-three hours of traveling was hard. The longest flight was about eleven hours. I spent a lot of time watching movies and trying to sleep. As soon as we landed we could feel the humidity. We were leaving dry Alaska for Chiang Mai.  My family and I were taking our very first trip out of country to Thailand.

The first thing we had to do was find a taxi to drive us to our hotel. It was very busy outside with drivers holding up people’s names. Eventually, a driver asked us if we need to go somewhere. We had to try to explain our destination because we had no service and no Wi-Fi. Luckily, he understood some English. When we got to the hotel, we took our shoes off to walk inside to keep the floors sanitary. My family and I were so exhausted from a long day of traveling, we fell asleep right when we got there.

After a good night's rest, we spent the day exploring. It was all so different. A lot of people spoke English, which was good. There were quite a few tourists around after we entered the Night Bazaar that started around 6 p.m. every night. People had shops lined up and down the Walking Street with clothes, souvenirs, home-goods and tons of food. It was exciting to compare Fairbanks to Thailand.

On day two, we went to an elephant sanctuary where we got to feed, hug and wash elephants. They were such massive, gentle animals. The oldest elephant there was 53 years old. Driving to the sanctuary was rough because we road in the back of a truck, on a long, bumpy road. There were cushioned seats on the two sides of the truck with a roof over our heads that had bars for us to hold onto.

The next place we went was Pai. A small, but populated town in Thailand. We met a woman named Mel who owned a small coffee shop called Pai Puri. She was from Montana and really made us feel welcome. There was a lot to do including walking around, looking at the local shops, and visiting the Villa, a nice resort with a beautiful view and a swimming pool. There we enjoyed relaxing in the sun. My dad and brother decided to go on a two-day meditation retreat to Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery. While they were gone, my mom, sister and I went to a beautiful spa.

We were able to enjoy the night shops and try different types of food. We had to drink strictly bottled water because the water there isn’t as clean as in the U.S. When my dad and brother came back from the retreat they said it was a nice experience. Their days consisted of meditating for a few hours, then eating breakfast, meditating for a few more hours, then lunch, meditating, then alone meditation in bed, then sleep— which made it a long two days for my brother. Only having two meals a day wasn’t hard because they had lots to eat. They got to offer food to the monks and ask questions. We spent a total of six days in Pai, including New Year’s, which was filled with fireworks and releasing lanterns. Everyone was celebrating.

 It takes about three hours to drive to Pai, as there are 764 curves on the road to get there, which is probably one reason we stayed so long.

The next place we stayed was on a large farm owned by a man named Tutu. He is the owner of Lemongrass Restaurant, which has a location in Fairbanks. My parents made friends with him in Fairbanks when he first opened up his restaurant in 1996. It was a beautiful farm that homed ten dogs and four cats. Tutu’s generosity was amazing. We stayed two nights in one of his guest houses. Later, we went to visit the Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm, the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden and the Chiang Mai Zoo. My favorite part was getting to feed the giraffes. We went to the temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, were we learned about Buddha and we were able to make an offering. I never had a boring day. While we were there, we stayed in a total of seven different hotel/houses.

One the last day of our trip we decided to visit Siam Insect Zoo. It was cool to see the different species, but bugs creep me out too much to hold any of them. Our plane was scheduled to leave at 11 p.m., so we had plenty of time to explore for one more day. The zoo was a way out of Chiang Mai, so we had to take a bus back to the city. There were no normal taxis this far out. At one point the cab held twenty-three people. They were holding onto the outside handle and had to stand because there were no more seats; very claustrophobic. The cab took us as far as it went so we walked to a restaurant for one last meal in Thailand.

We were later able to catch a ride to the airport. We got there three hours early, thinking it would take a while to get through customs. It really only took about an hour so we waited for our six-hour flight to Korea. We waited an exhausting 9-hour layover in the very clean-looking airport. We spent most of our time in the transfer lounge. It had a sleeping area, electronics, e-sports, showers and a nice cafe area. After our nine hours were finally up, we had a ten-hour flight next. I watched movies pretty much the whole time, sleeping on planes is too hard. Finally, after landing in Seattle, I was relieved that our next stop was Fairbanks. We had traveled almost thirty-three hours to get home. This was such an amazing experience for me. I will never forget how much fun I had there. I can’t wait to travel again, I am already missing the Land of Smiles.