It's been a week since I've been home from my trip. Firstly, thank you for being my moral support through this crazy adventure (both before, during, and after my leave). I appreciate each of you for your interest, and will look forward to seeing you at some point in time if I haven't already!
The remainder of my trip was relaxing but still packed. We took a day to snorkel just South of Railey Beach, at Phi Phi Island. This was a unique experience because we could see the remains of many coral reefs destroyed by the tsunami that hit SE Asia in 2004. Broken skeletons of this marine ecosystem littered the sea floor. However, amidst the remains, much color abound: anemones, sea snakes, and fish of all colors swam about, and I had the opportunity to swim with schools of fish all afternoon.
Our last two nights in Thailand were devoted to Bangkok. During the day, we went on a temple tour, visiting the "must-see's" like the Emerald Buddha and the Reclining Buddha... basically, lots of various Buddhas. :) The architecture is so colorful, meticulous and ornate, it takes my breath away. Our evenings were full of city life, taking to the streets and seeing what Bangkok is really like. And when we saw enough of that ;), we took a trip down Khao Son Road, the hot spot for travelers in Bangkok. Tons of vendors, bars, and restaurants... and tons of tourists! All in all, Bangkok was a fun and exciting way to wrap up our tour; although it was hard to say goodbye to my new friends, and even harder to say goodbye to this beautiful land I now have a home with.
The return home and adjustment to Western culture has been surreal. It sounds cliche', but we are so fortunate in the United States: flush toilets, drinkable water, the quality of our education and the presence of our sanitation and recycling systems. But the Thai culture has so much to offer that we as Westerners often miss out on: the sense of community, strong work ethic, self-sufficiency and responsibility for one's self (even at a young age). We as a Westernized culture have the capacity for all of these attributes, but the systems we've created to make our lives easier need to be maintained by the very people they serve. We spend so much time worrying about the small stuff, when in fact it's the small stuff we should be enjoying. Life is too short and the world is too big to be full of anxiety about something that doesn't really make an impact. What I've learned to be concerned with is what kind of a local, national, and global impact I am making (because, like it or not, we all do make one), and find ways to ensure I'm being a positive influence on other people and systems. It's not something that comes naturally to our 'get-ahead' culture, but I think it's an important lesson to learn.
That's a wrap for this adventure. I will be keeping this blog for other trips, so look forward to hearing from me in the future, and I will look forward to hearing from you! If you have any questions about my excursion, or if you are going on a trip of any kind and want my listening ear or my prayers, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be in touch. :)
You can also see the rest of my public pictures by following this link to my online album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2014956&id=1579620073&l=f9c0d9e222
Love to you, from a soul with one foot in Thailand, and another forever at home.