August 8, 2013

People around the world -- first edition: fresh eyes

I have been living and writing in Asia for almost three years now and looking back I have learned so much and am completely different than the wide eyed American girl I once was. Writing about my time here lately has made me feel like quite the narcissist plus I have noticed how cynical I am becoming about everything and haven't been writing like a good blogger should. I find backpackers really annoying, hate when my toilet doesn't have a bum gun next to it, have incorporated the Asian grunt into my vocabulary and am the biggest beach snob there is.  It really is crazy how even the madness of Thailand can become normal and mundane and make you into a grumpy old lady who just wants to stay in on a Friday night with her tea and kindle, away from the crowds. So it was the perfect time to experience all the excitement again with my two best friends and fresh eyes.

I sent my friends some questions when they got back to the land of the free and the insightful answers I received back were so interesting and inspiring that I decided to start a new feature on my blog, talking to friends and strangers I meet along this crazy journey, because really that is what traveling is all about. Connections, shared moments, memories, being together. The older (and wiser) I get, the more I realize these relationships are the most important part of life and are really what make life worth living. Corny sounding, I know, but so true. Nothing brings people closer together than experiencing the world together and I am beyond grateful I got to do so with such great company.

 So without further ado, the first edition of...

People around the world: Cameron

What was surprised you the most about your first time in Asia?

It all shocked the hell out of me!  :)  I think the food markets/stands impacted my most sensitive senses.  The smell of what I can only assume is dead animals sitting out in the heat and the sight of whole dead animals laying right in front of you was a lot for me to take in. {ed. note: She's hardcore Vegan and did an awesome job taking this in stride!}  I was most SHOCKED by that.
I was most SURPRISED by the 'hustling'.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that in a bad way.  It just seemed that everyone had an agenda and everyone found a way to make money to support their family.  Obviously there are Thai people that get up and go to work in an office but it seemed the majority woke up and went out for their daily 'hustle' whether that be frying fish balls, driving a tuk tuk or selling merchandise.  I saw a lot of poverty, and a few people sitting with signs asking for money.  However, it seemed to me that the majority of people figured out what skills they had that they could turn into money.  I think it says a lot about the culture and the strength of the people.  This was the most surprising to me because, as a consumer, it was in your face at all times.

Was it what you expected, different, better or worse? Why?

I had no idea what to expect.  I saw your pictures and knew I would be a sweaty mess {Haha, do I really look like a sweaty mess all the time? damn..} but outside of that I did not prepare myself.   On the first few days in Bangkok I was overwhelmed.  It was dirty and I was sweaty and people were EVERYWHERE and vehicles didn't give a shit.  It was A LOT to take in.  After we traveled around a bit my perspective changed from "I'm exploring Bangkok" to "I'm exploring this street and will soon explore that market" It became much more manageable, if that makes sense.  I think the night out with your friends was really interesting.  Seeing expats from all over the world living and working in BKK made it seem not so foreign.  It made Bangkok seem much more possible.

As for the Islands - it was different than I imagined.  I didn't expect there to be SO many other tourists from other countries.  I was really shocked by the amount of people that travel around the world because this was my first trip out.  Some of the people I met were from countries that I had never met anyone from before.  I liked the idea of making friends in other countries and then heading out to visit them and seeing their country.  World travel became much more possible for me and I am very excited to head back out on another adventure.  The beaches exceeded any expectations I had.  I loved them all and want them back :)

What was the best part of traveling around Thailand?

Learningggggg!  Sounds cheesy but EVERY experience was a learning experience.  From trying out the few Thai words you taught me to figuring out how to get from point A to point B to taking note of the vast differences in one area of Thailand to the next.  I loved just taking it all in.  Some of it should have been miserable but it wasn't for me.  I just tried to be laid back, take it all in and learn.  The traveling was one of my favorite parts.

Would you go back to Asia again? Why or why not?

TOO SOON! :)  Just kidding, I would go back to Asia.  I would like it to be a different kind of trip though.  I would like to do some jungle trekking.  I loved laying on the beaches and exploring the coasts of the islands.  That was perfect and I think what we were all looking for.  However, if I planned another trip I would like to travel to some smaller cities and head out to the jungle.

What would you tell other first timers before they go?

Learn some basic Thai words or phrases.  If you don't have someone who knows what they are doing with you it will be very hard to not get the foreigner price :)  Also, just go in with an open mind and be ready for things to be on 'thai time'.  I was on vacation so it did not bother me ONE bit that things were delayed but if you have a strict schedule it may be a bit frustrating.  

photos courtesy of my other awesome friend Courtney

Thanks for such thoughtful and helpful answers Cameron and I hope you come back to Asia sooner than later!

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