Random Thoughts on Int'l Travel
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 14 of 18 › view all entries
No new pics to add today. I know, I know...I have nearly 400 and I've only shared roughly 10%, but some simply aren't good or interesting unless there is a full explanation. Rest assured, all who are interested (and many who aren't) will get the FULL experience of ALL 400 pics upon my return!
Today, I just thought I'd do some random thoughts on traveling internationally:
Respect: This is an important word. I did a bit of research prior to my arrival to learn what proper attire was, simple phrases, what was appropriate and not...and I believe it to have made my trip a lot smoother. Learn to respect the culture you are living within. I know, there should be a place for everyone, and there is, and when you choose to travel abroad, you should try to at least respect their boundaries. i.e. in Thailand, it is not looked highly upon for women to wear short shorts and sleeveless shirts. So don't do it. Same for men actually--unless you're near the beach, people here are too elegant, refined and simply mannered to see your hairy armpits, even at an "outdoor cafe."
Religious Understanding: Alright, so perhaps my time spent at the Temple made this an easier transition for me, but how far of a stretch is it to realize you shouldn't wear sleeveless shirts, shorts and flip-flops inside a traditional Temple in Thailand. Easy enough to overlook perhaps, but when you are then required to rent a pair of shorts/pants/top to enter, please pay your respect and do not be incensed about it. You are choosing to enter the Temple, they are choosing to allow you based on your respect of the religion and culture. I have fallen victim to the Monks as Outdoor Museums and have snapped more than a few pics of Monks out and about. I have always asked their permission, given a Wai and said thank you. I have even offered them rice in return for the early morning picture. Yesterday, there were two European women who just floored me. I was sitting at the Saphan Taxin BTS station just enjoying the river, a homeless guy playing music and drinking fresh (sweet!) OJ when these two women walked by, spotted the Monk. Stopped, retrieved their camera, after ensuring it was on the proper setting, they proceeded to get right in front of the Monk--NO RECOGNITION, PERMISSION or even a SMILE from these sleeveless women. It gets better...one actually did the "WOOHOO" in a high shrill so as to get a head-on photo-opp. After which, they said, in plain english "yes, it's a good one..." and left. No thank you, no Wai, no nothing...and all the while, they kept puffing on cigarettes. I was so. . . miffed. What if someone did this to a Catholic Father? Maybe it does happen, I dunno...
FOOD: EAT IT! The best and most heavenly food I have eaten, I have NO idea what it is. Available on the streets and ordered by my friends...I boldly go forth and consume that which is placed in front of me. A few times, I've regretted it. i.e. Fish Stomach--just not good. Squid in soup--couldn't get past the fact I use this fishing. But generally I've not been disappointed. The first week or so, I would suggest making sure you know where the nearest restroom is, just in case.
SURVIVAL KIT: Never leave home without it! Extra local currency hidden in the recesses of your purse/wallet just in case you get stuck out somewhere. Toilet paper until you get the hang of the local squat and wash methods. Moist toilettes to remove the layers of sweat, grime and pollution. Shout stain wipes--nuff said on that one. Water to stay hydrated. A journal (THANKS CINDY!!) and a supply of pens to document. Gum, just because. An open mind.
EXTENDED VISIT: Ensure your visit is long enough to get beyond doing the tourist thing. I have found some of my favorite experiences so far have just been out and about, walking aimlessly, sitting and watching, sipping some exotic fruit drink or absorbing, via osmosis, the culture through being surrounded by it, and not other tourists. It has been difficult for me to remember this is my holiday, and sitting at a cafe reading is acceptable behaviour. You don't always have to be on the go. With that said, get out and go see the area! Get lost without a map and try to ask your way back.
TRY IT ALL: Hell, you're on vacation on another continent, GET OUT AND TRY THE COUNTRY !! In Thailand, there are SO many forms of transportation--take them all, even if not to get to a destination, but to get to an experience--can't that be destination enough. A former colleague once said "is it more about the end or the journey..." I wonder if the journey can be an end, and the end a journey?
TAKE LOTS OF MONEY!: Way more than people tell you you will need. With the extra cash in your pocket, you won't have to worry about . . . should I do this or that...do em both ! Read above! Thanks Mom and Dad for encouraging this one. Now, all my clients who are reading this--my 2007 rates just increased. haha, just kidding!
DOCUMENT: But don't forget to enjoy. The other night, I missed out on some fireworks because I was trying to get my camera to work properly. Damn it! Now not only do I not have the pics, I don't have the memory either. Leave it at home sometimes, but take your journal. Jot haphazard sentences and fragments down to joggle your memory later. Colors, smells, clothes, people, expressions, everything--it is the sum total of your experience, find ways to remember it vividly beyond your internal memory.
SEND POSTCARDS: The cheapest way, perhaps, to let people know you are both enjoying your vacation and thinking of them. With that said, mine are in the mail as of yesterday.
Well, I think that's about it for now. I have a little time left to send some e-mails, work up a new training being conducted shortly upon my return and venture out for some thai fried chicken that will no doubt tear my stomach up. It's ok, I know where the restrooms are and i have my Survival Kit at the ready!