|Weg and I riding a ferry to the island Ko Sichang.|
It was my first time to this part of the world, and what an experience! The sights, the food, the culture and drastically different way-of-life compared to The States. I learned to appreciate the granted comforts of America, but also grew fond of Thai customs such as Buddhism practices, bartering for goods, work ethic, politeness, and the availability, convenience and affordability of produce and healthy foods.
A brief geography lesson: Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is as populated as New York City, home to 8 million people. Humans inhabited the area as long as 40,000 years ago, but the country's origins date back to the early 1200s A.D. as part of the Khmer Empire. It was known as Siam until the 1930s, when the king renamed it Thailand translating to "land of freedom." It's namesake refers to Thailand being the only country in Southeast Asia to avoid being colonized by a European nation.
Thailand is roughly the size of Texas and shares its border with the ocean, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Laos. 95% of citizens are Buddhists. Thailand's government is a monarchy with the world's longest reigning king, who has been in power since 1946.
Bangkok had it's big boom during the 1960s, and now ranks as Asia's 6th most powerful economic center. As it's a newer metropolis, it has commodities of Western nations, but it still classified as a developing country for a number of reasons, such as inadequate infrastructure and urban planning, lack of drinkable water from the tap, and plumbing that cannot handle toilet paper.
|At a wat circa 1200 A.D. in Ayutthaya, the first capital of Thailand.|
Thais have a saying, "Mai ben rai," which translates to "No problem." Things may not always make sense or go as planned, but Thai people seem to take things as they come and make the best of it. And that's pretty terrific.
|The clearest, bluest ocean I've ever seen at Ko Sichang|
During my stay, we crammed every bit of Bangkok into each day. From bicycling around an island, to swimming in the bluest, clearest waters, being picked up by an elephant or getting blessed by a monk, every day was an adventure. Let's not forget the oodles of Wats (temples), giant Buddha statues, weird spicy food, and tuk-tuks; they're an integral part of this story as well. Over the coming weeks, I'll be elaborating on my journey with plenty of pictures and whimsical anecdotes about the country which Travel + Leisure Magazine ranks #1 tourist destination in the world.