THAILAND - JANUARY 2003
When I sailed around the world while teaching on Semester at Sea in the spring of 2002, I realized that it was just as easy to go someplace across the globe as nearby. Among the ten countries I had visited, I was especially intrigued by Vietnam and Cambodia, and decided that I wanted to see Thailand as well.
So I went in January of 2003 to avoid the heat of summer and the monsoons of spring. I stayed a week with a friend in Bangkok, visiting temples and markets, listening to music concerts, riding water taxis, and eating wonderful food on the streets. I bought some wonderful silk shirts that I love to wear.
I spent another week in Northern Thailand. I flew to Chang Mai, where my friend had arranged for me to meet a driver who would drive me to explore the Hill Tribes around Chang Mai, Chang Rai, and the Golden Triangle. The hill tribes are various ethnic minorities from China and Burma who originally survived by growing opium, but government development projects have encouraged them to shift to other crops and to sell textiles to tourists. Once the driver stopped at a roadside stand and bought some dried worms. He encouraged me to try one, and it was crunchy like a Cheeto, but without the cheese flavor!
I also visited schools, watched kickboxing, and danced in discos, in Chang Mai and Chang Rai. Then I flew back to Bangkok, and my friend and I spent several days in Huahin, a seaside resort where there was more wonderful food, as well as interesting markets and discos. We returned to Bangkok in time for Chinese New Year celebrations, then visited an outdoor historic museum, and an AIDS mercy center where I met children, young adults, and middle-aged parents who were dying from AIDS.
It was a very meaningful trip.