Update: I’m back in the USA! While my RTW trip is technically over, there is plenty to catch you up on here and plenty more adventures to come. Stay tuned.
Back in March and April of this year, I met each of my sisters in Thailand for spectacular sister-bonding trips. For Part I, I invited my little sister, Courtney, to guest blog about her adventure (both good and bad)! It was her first trip abroad, outside Mexico/Canada, and she arrived with eyes wide-open and ready to experience everything. Talk about stepping out of her comfort zone! She’s a travel rock star!
When Dawn first approached me about having me join her for part of her trip, I was in shock. It meant the world to me that she wanted me to share in this amazing journey she was on. Of course my reply was ‘heck yeah!’. My love of elephants inspired Dawn to suggest we meet in Thailand and so with the support of my husband, family and friends I made the 20+-hour journey and we spent two weeks exploring all that Thailand has to offer.
Looking back, those two weeks were surreal. I still don’t think the experiences have sunk in yet. Thailand is beautiful, full of culture and heritage. From the temples and buildings to the country side and mountains to the beaches and sea, Thailand is full of stunning colors and such peaceful scenery. Granted, I’ll admit, it did take a bit to get adjust to the culture shock too (i.e. lack of personal space, people being seemingly rude)!
Although it is too difficult to try to sum up our entire trip in one blog post, I did want to highlight a few of the most memorable moments:
1.) Elephant Nature Park: We spent two amazing days at this wonderful sanctuary for elephants (and dogs). They are doing truly incredible things there, giving elephants the proper care, rehabilitation and respect they deserve. It was an amazing experience to hear the terrible and disgusting events these elephants have been thru, yet to see how trusting and loving they still are. Getting to walk around the park to interact with and observe the elephants is something I’ll never forget. These creatures are mammoth in size, yet so gentle and loving. My three favorite things from ENP were: the babies there were 4 weeks old and 3 months old- so freaking cute!; Dawn getting slapped upside the head by an Elephant ear; getting to wake up listening to the elephants calling for each other. I can talk for days about this place, but stay tuned for a dedicated post from Dawn on ENP.
2.) I still can’t believe this next thing happened, but my sister actually publicly shamed a tuk-tuk driver after he tried to scam us and block other drivers from giving us a ride, which had left us stranded at the base of a giant mountain. Thanks to some quick thinking we were able to outsmart him and continue on our way. But I still cannot get the image of Dawn flailing her arms about while yelling “Shame on you! You’re a bad man! Karma will get you!!” Perhaps you had to be there to appreciate what happened, but I’m proud my sis stood up for us and called him out!
3.) The island of Phuket ended up being the sight of two rather terrifying experiences. The first occurred when were out on a day excursion. Via long boat, we traveled around the Andaman Sea exploring the different beautiful islands. While we stopped for lunch on a floating village, a strong storm moved in. After trying to wait it out, our tour guide decided we should go. The 20+ people piled into the long boat and pushed off from the village. With the rain pummeling down, waves crashing over the sides of the boats and not enough life jackets for everyone, Dawn and I huddled under her sarong and hoped for the best. Thankfully we made it out of the storm and even kept exploring. Lesson learned: make sure there are enough life jackets for everyone!
The second incident occurred when we decided to rent a scooter for the day to tour the island ourselves. Keep in mind, Dawn had never driven one before (outside parking lots) and I had never ridden on one…yet this seemed like a great idea to us. The thing I should note about Phuket is that it is comprised of extremely high hills and extremely crazy drivers. Lesson learned, bad idea all around. There may have been a minor incident involving a pile of garbage saving our lives from a store-front wall. There also may have been a severe leg sunburn, leaving a permanent line above my knees.
4.) The night markets all across Thailand are amazing! I was completely unprepared for the scale of them. The markets have everything you can think of: delicious food, music, clothes and souvenirs. (I may have even bought a few scrunchies!) I was extremely proud of myself because I easily could have spent five times as much as I did and also extremely impressed with Dawn’s haggling skills! She always came to my rescue. Wandering these markets was a great place to try different cuisine as well. From pad thai to mango or durian sticky rice, it was all new to me and so very tasty! Not to mention, it also provided me the opportunity to finally learn how to use chopsticks!!!
All in all, I am so grateful that I was able to go on this trip and experience such wonderful memories with my sister. I would be remiss if I didn’t brag about my sis a little more too. Being on this trip with her made me overwhelmingly proud of her. To see her in her element, exploring, doing what she loves and taking chances was inspiring. I am so proud of her; I cannot say it enough. She’s pushing herself, following her heart and going after what she loves. Whether she can see it or not, she has accomplished and experienced things that will fill up more than a lifetime of memories. And all the while finding her own happiness and her own path.
p.s. I lucked out with the two most supportive, understanding and loving sisters! (hugs) Keep an eye out for Part II from my older sister, Kris, real soon!