Hello and Goodbye to the Big Mango

Hello and Goodbye to the Big Mango

So much has happened in the past few days that it feels like weeks have already passed! My body is having a hard time adjusting to so many changes so quickly, but hopefully my swollen ankles and light-headed vertigo symptoms will subside in the next few days. I have never been in such a hot, humid climate for extended periods of time, let alone walked around for hours in such drastically different weather conditions! But I am by no means complaining – I can certainly get used to walking around in shorts and a tank top with no worries about being cold. (:

On Friday, a group of us went to Wat Pho, which included several temples and the famous Reclining Buddha. The details inside each temple were so intricate, from the shrines themselves to the painted walls and support beams. I cannot imagine how long it must have taken to build such extravagant pieces by hand, let alone the Grand Palace! And everything seems to remain in sparkling condition, emphasizing how respectful the Thai people are of Buddhist culture and the monarchy.

Our first day in Bangkok was full of trial and error, but we managed to make it to Wat Pho without too many problems. I especially enjoyed the boat ride from the train station to the temple pier, because we got a nice breeze and a beautiful water tour of the area. When we returned to the train station from Wat Pho, our intention was to find Lumphini Park. However, navigation was more difficult than we anticipated, and we ended up riding in the wrong direction for quite awhile. Since it was the middle of the day at that point, most of the group decided to return to the hotel, while Kaila and I wandered around the mall for an hour. It was interesting to see the subtle differences in fashion, as well as the set-up of the mall’s restaurants and shops.

By the time we got home, I was overdue for a quick nap and a shower. After rebooting, Sam and I met up with a large group of people from our program (~20), and we all experienced Khao San Road together. I couldn’t be happier to experience the parts of Bangkok that give into its reputation, and Khao San Road did not disappoint. As I walked and browsed the vendors, I was overcome with sensory overload: there were several neighboring restaurants/bars blasting different types of music, and I witnessed my first Thai lady-boy, prancing around in lingerie and heels. The street was crowded with people from all walks of life, and full body massages were given upon request. There was even a selling fake IDs in just about every form, from U.S. driver’s licenses to college degrees. When I saw that, I understood why our Greenheart organizers were so adamant about us bringing our official diplomas/transcripts to teach! It’s crazy how many things are hidden under the radar in places like Thailand, from underage drinking to the very real sex industry in this country. But it puts me on high alert to make conscious, smart decisions while I’m here, which makes me feel like an adult with a purpose.

Once our van driver picked all 20 of us up from Khao San Road (around 1245), we were brought back to the hotel, where most of us called it a night. On Saturday morning, we checked out the Grand Palace, and boy was it grand! In fact, a few of us got turned away at first because we had wrapped scarves around our shoulders as opposed to wearing sweaters that covered our shoulders. To anyone thinking about going to Thailand, take our experience as a lesson: the Grand Palace does not accept scarves in the place of sweaters or t-shirts under any circumstances. This led to my renting a shirt that did not match my outfit in the slightest, but it turned out to be a great conversation piece: it was a black and red button up with dragons all over it – and to make it even better, the other girl who rented a shirt had Hawaiian flowers all over hers. Our pictures were definitely entertaining, and it made us laugh that those shirts were considered more appropriate than a draped and tied scarf around our shoulders.

On Saturday night, our entire group went to a rooftop bar to celebrate Kaila’s birthday, and the view was spectacular! I think Bangkok is the biggest city I’ve ever seen, and it feels like it never ends! A smaller group of us went to a karaoke bar afterwards, and it turned out to be a nice ice breaker for the new people I met. Our entire group consists of almost 100 people, so keeping track of everyone/getting to know them over the next month is going to be difficult. But I’ll try!

My favorite excursion in Bangkok was the floating market. It’s such a cool idea to have vendors and shops right on the water, and our boat driver was very accommodating. Kaila and Julia bought some pretty sweet straw hats, and we all drank free coconut nectar while browsing. (:

As I prepare to leave Bangkok and move to Hua Hin, I am looking forward to a slight change of pace in a smaller beach town. I am keeping an open mind and trying to absorb as much as I can from my surroundings. I have been told that orientation week seems to fly by, but the amount of information we obtain makes it feel like a month. I’m not sure what to expect, but I am excited to settle in one place for the next month, living and learning in the moments to come. As the Thais would say, ไม่เป็นไร (mai pen rai): loosely translated, it means everything is okay, or “not to worry.”

Outside the H-Residence in Bangkok
Authentic Pad Thai
The Reclining Buddha
Buddhist Cats, Clearly in Love
Wat Pho
Out Cold at Wat Pho
<img width=”113″ height=”150″ src=”https://thaidyedsunrise.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/elephantstatue.jpg?w=113&h=150″ class=”attachment-thumbnail” alt=”Elephant Statue
The King's Crib
Rooftop View of Bangkok!
The Floating Markets
My Main Man, Blue
Excursions in Bangkok

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