This is where my trip started. I flew into Chiang Mai, Thailand. It's in the northern part of the country. I spent about a week here and then went into Laos and then came back to Thailand to meet some friends. Overall, Thailand is very touristy. There are a lot of tourists and many of the attractions cater to the foreigners, which is kind of a disappointment, but I was still able to see a lot of traditional Thailand and get to know some of the locals.
Here is the easiest form of transportation. It's called a tuk-tuk in Thai. They are kind of fun to go in and the drivers are interesting. Some are a little passive and some come up to you trying to bargain. Same thing goes when they are driving, some obey normal driving rules, but others will go anywhere on the road that there is an empty space, including the other side of the road. I was a little nervous starting out, but finally had to just realize that it is their life too....
This was a fairly common site all over. This is the school uniform for the girls. I saw several motor cycles with three girls on it. Helmets are seldom found.
There are so many temples in the area. After I had been to a couple, they all started looking the same.
I went on a trek to a little village. It was fun. Here is my tour guide. This guy was hilarious. He said he knew the area very well, but got lost once and slid/fell down 10 feet from the edge of trail. We got to know each other pretty well. We discussed a lot of things ranging from culture to Christianity to favorite foods.
Some of the kids in the village we visited. They were used to foreigners coming, but they were still fun to play with. I had tried to learn some Thai, but these kids didn't speak much of it, they all spoke their own village language.
Here, you can see how modernizations are mixing in with the traditional way of life.
This was a pleasant sight I hadn't expected to see. When the French came, they colonized a lot of this area as Christian missionaries My guide has been raised Catholic his entire life. We hadsome interesting discussions about it.
Along the way, we got to ride elephants. The group I was with consisted of two Australians, two British, and a Korean girl. It was an interesting mix of people.
We got to a river. They gave us two long bamboo poles and a bamboo raft and said have fun. We had no idea what we were doing. It's a good thing the river wasn't too deep cause we fell a couple times.
After I fell in, I almost went over a huge waterfall, but luckily I was able to grab this bridge. Okay, so I am exaggerating a little, it wasn't a huge waterfall and I purposely got in to go swimming. Actually, I purposely went over the waterfall, it was more like a waterslide.
Some of the beautiful waterfalls we saw along the way and swam in. It was very refreshing - Thailand is hot, even this time of the year.
This is after I had gone into Laos and come back to Thailand. This is Bangkok, where I met up with some friends. I wasn't so impressed with the city. It seemed like a typical Asian city with one part of town that seemed like downtown western big city.
I like the architecture of the buildings though. This is at the best University in Thailand. I was thinking this would be a fun place to come for a year - maybe I can do one year abroad in Grad school....
I found the engineering buildings. When I looked around and noticed that the proportions of males to females around the engineering building was about the same as in in America, I started thinking that I mights just stay in the states for Grad school. At least then I could speak the same language.
In traveling, I ran across many small town like this. These were fun to get away from the tourists and get to know the locals.
Most of the time I was racing from place to place seeing things, but I did actually take a week off to relax. I needed it. I met up with five friends (other English teachers) and we went scuba diving off an island in Thailand (Ko Tao).
One morning I climbed up to the top of island. This was the end of the sunrise from the top. It was beautiful. I just stayed up there watching it for about an hour.
Here is a picture of some of what we saw. This is a picture of a Triggerfish from a book. But this little fish is very large - about half a meter long. Luckily he has a small mouth. They are very territorial and if you go into their space, they are known to come up and bite you.
Well, this is what the bite of a Triggerfish looks like. I was just swimming along and out of nowhere, I feel this thump on my leg. When I look back, this huge fish swims right by my face. I was quite scared, but we swam away from him and kept him back with our fins. He's not poisonous, but I didn't know if he was at the time. Since you can't talk underwater, I couldn't ask my guide what I should do. I showed it to her, but and she just signed to me to see if I was okay. I guess I was, but I didn't know. Turns out they aren't poisonous, but some people have needed stitches from their bites. My guide thought it was cool as did most of the people on the boat. But, most of them had been bitten in the past.
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