As our journey in Singapore sadly came to an end, we departed Changi Airport for what we knew was going to be another exciting adventure.
Our trip to Thailand was busy to say the least. Starting most days at 7 and not ending until 9 or 10 made the days tiring, but full of new experiences.
Beginning in Khao Yai National Park we spent two days hiking in the rain forest but more importantly bonding with MUIC students. This included performing skits and learning dances that brought us not only closer as a group, but also closer to the MUIC students. We really felt at home when the MUIC students set up a candlelit service where they made their way around to all of us and gave us bracelets while saying kind words of welcome.
On Sunday we traveled to the capital of Thailand, Bangkok. This was quite a change from the quiet serenity of Khao Yai. But I have to admit all of us seemed to be pleasantly surprised when we arrived at our five-star hotel, Novotel. Don’t get me wrong who doesn’t love getting up close and personal with nature (and when I say up close I mean in the bungalow) but I think we were ready for a change and the incredible amenities at Novotel were just what the doctor ordered.
During our time at Bangkok we visited many of the sites, but more importantly got to know more about Thailand. We spent more time with the MUIC students who showed us many of their favorite places to shop and eat. We also had time to get to know them and find out more of their thoughts on the world and the US. I enjoyed the night two MUIC girls took several others and myself out to a traditional Thai restaurant. They showed us what to eat and how to order. It was quite an experience.
My personal favorite part of our visit in Bangkok was when we visited Venerable Mother, the first female monk in Thailand. She provided insight into female roles in Buddhism as well as her personal journey to finding acceptance and peace in her own life.
After departing Bangkok the group headed for Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand. While there we saw gorgeous ruins, visited a handicraft center, had a dinner boat tour and rode elephants!
On Saturday morning we woke up a little early to have a wrap-up session with Trude and Howie. We discussed things we enjoyed and things to change for the next group. While I was sitting there finishing up my breakfast and listening to the comments, something dawned on me. We had truly become a family and I was honestly going to miss each and every one of the group members. They all brought something different to the group. For that I am personally grateful.
I am sitting at my desk four days after being home and finally recovered from jet lag. I can honestly say it is finally starting to sink in. This was more than a study abroad session or chance to see Southeast Asia. It was a seven week adventure filled with new faces, new cultures, and new experiences none of us will ever forget!