Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Very Thai Vacation

After living abroad for thirty-one months (and particularly in a developing country), traveling takes on new meaning and I see the world in a whole new light. I see my travel destinations for what they offer their inhabitants and my experiences are charged with a different energy, a whole new level of understanding. It becomes about both experiencing a new place through the eyes of a tourist and through the eyes of a local. You see a place more holistically through these eyes. Until recently, this new perspective was confined to my travels around Africa. I saw other African nations and compared them to where I was living. There was something that bound them all together and was familiar, even if some aspects varied.

I recently traveled to Thailand with my boyfriend and two fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. We spent two weeks traversing the country - navigating overnight trains, local buses, tuk tuks, longboats, and bicycles. Everywhere I went seemed like "the best place in Thailand". Until, of course, I reached the next destination of our journey. (Can they all be "the best place"?) I felt my worldview expanding. Beautiful temples and historic ruins filled my soul and dancing children in the jungles of the north made me smile. White water rafting tested my courage, while long hikes pushed my strength to its brink. (And lets not forget the beautiful beaches that tanned my skin!)

But there was even more to offer there. There was an intricate and well constructed transit system, wide-spread high-speed internet, and more restaurants and coffee shops than one person could visit. There were markets and small businesses and entrepreneurs and opportunities for growth. There was ambition and drive in its populace - extending from the capital city to the southern islands to the hill tribes outside Chiang Mai. It is a dynamic and bustling nation. My travel companions and I discussed this at length (along with some of the challenges we saw along the way). After all, we all know what it's like to live in a developing country and we did not allow ourselves to become too consumed by the tourist sites to take notice.

Thailand was everything and nothing like I expected.

I loved Thailand. Everything about it. I could see myself living there and envisioned what that life would be like. It was beautiful.

Here's a glimpse at what my life in Thailand might look like, through the eyes of a traveling development worker, tourist, and girl with a dream to explore the world:

What a glorious life it would be.

And what an amazing life I lead to be able to experience it and see what that world is like.

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