Our time in Bangkok and Ayutthaya was really cool. In Bangkok we visited the Grand Palace, temples, went to Chinatown, the museum, and Siam Square. This experience was different than what we have done in the previous weeks because our transportation changed drastically. Instead of using red trucks to go from place to place we had to use a train and sometimes a boat. It took way longer to get to our destinations. While visiting all of these awesome places I personally learned a lot about the history of Bangkok and the royal family. We also visited the Queens closet which held all of the former Kings wife’s clothes. They were so beautiful and each piece of clothing had a description of when she wore the outfit which was amazing. Most of our nights ended with everyone exhausted so most of us just went straight to bed after the long days. In Ayutthaya, our group split into 3. We were lodging in houses with 5 students in each house. All of the houses were along the river and when we would all meet up together at one house we would take a boat. It was different than any place we have stayed before so I enjoyed it. During our day out in Ayutthaya we visited the ancient ruin temples and palace, and went to the floating market. Personally, the floating market has been something I’ve been looking forward to so I was excited to be there. The floating market is called what is it because all of the markets are along the water and you can take a boat around and view them all. Overall, Bangkok and Ayutthaya were only a couple days of exploring in each city but we accomplished so much and were able to see so many interesting things which I’ll never forget.
Although short, Bangkok and Ayutthaya were simple and sweet. From family dinners to long train and boat rides, our time in these cities were one to remember! Our celebration of two birthdays, Lesly and John Cole, only contributed to the special time we shared in these two cities. After the long eleven-hour bus ride after saying goodbye to our second host family, we immediately immersed into the diverse and interesting culture of Bangkok and its beauty. We traveled to museums, tried on historical clothing, and visited Siam Square. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Chinatown were also something to remember in this city. Our homestay in Ayutthaya reminded us of the immense feeling of hospitality and gratitude that we felt during our first homestay! We spent our day in Ayutthaya visiting three different historical temples and shopping at the Floating Market. We ended our time in this town surrounded by beautiful sunsets and a delicious family dinner! Excited for the beach but sad for our departure from Thailand, we departed Ayutthaya ready for the end of our adventure in Hua Hin.
Throughout our stay in Chiang Mai, we were given many opportunities to immerse ourselves in Thai culture. At the beginning of the program, we attended orientation at Chiang Mai University. In it, we learned valuable information on Thai language, Buddhism in Thailand, cultural do’s and don’t, and Thailand’s history. It was very beneficial for the test of the program because we were able to build a foundation to ready for the homestay. After the Thai language lessons, we learned common phrases in Thai to be able to greet people, get around, order at a restaurant, etc. To gather more insight about Thai food, we attended a Thai cooking class, where we cooked popular dishes that we’ll be eating all throughout the program like Pad Thai, green curry, Tom Yum Soup, spring rolls, and mango sticky rice. By the end of the class, we were able to successfully cook and learn the ingredients necessary to make Thailand’s most popular dishes. The most interesting thing I learned there is how quick and easy it is make Pad Thai. Since Pad Thai is my favorite food, I’m happy that I am able to eat it as much as I want.”
Throughout the adventure of Thailand’s biggest city and capital, it was amazing to see the normality of Thai citizens accepting the transgender community. That was such eye opening. From riding the sky train, the subway, and ferry boats you saw the diversity of the city as a whole than just the same people like in the home-stay. In addition, the China town and day trips to the Grand palace and largest laying Buddha, although a struggle to navigate the city, it paid off to see and assimilate to what is the core of the Thai culture. As our days in Bangkok came to a close we headed to Ayutthaya where we learned about the historical ruins of the old grand palace and stayed in rural areas different than the busy urban life. It made the group feel at ease with the slow life . In the course of the week, we were shown different ways of living with the same core of Thai culture (Buddhism and the King ). Nevertheless it was eye opening to see the different ways of life in a new city and town. I was shown how the daily lives of Thai citizens may be different from each other but they share the same culture values and respect throughout the country.