Any monumental journey is bound to expose you to an assortment of new and totally awesome things. Even with this expectation, I continue to be floored by all the incredible things I got to do and see while roaming around Thailand.
Learning how to scuba dive
I purposely made this my first goal after arriving to Koh Tao. Getting my PADI open water certificate was, as a traveler, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. A whole new world, deep under water, was opened up to me. Throughout my trip, I swam with turtles, tons of colorful fish, and even black tip reef sharks!
Eating tons of delicious pad thai and cooking Thai food
I had tried pad thai only a handful of times before my travels, but it quickly became a once a day meal. Interestingly, I found that it was prepared differently according to region and even by restaurant and I simply had to sample as much as I could. While volunteering and helpxing, I was also able to participate in cooking different Thai foods for the first time.
Riding on an elephant
It goes without saying how cool this is. Being close to these magnificent creatures gives you an indescribable feeling of contentment. However, I feel even better about riding on an elephant knowing they weren’t beat and broken for tourist purposes. No binding ropes, no heavy carriages, just me and the elephant, splashing in the pond.
Attending sweet cultural events
I went to the Elephant Festival in Surin, and I was present for the King’s birthday in December. However, the most awe-inspiring festival I have ever been a part of is Loi Krathong/Yi Peng in Chiang Mai. It’s representative of new beginnings, and combines both sending paper lanterns into the sky and sending candles in mini boats down the river. The whole city takes on a soft glow that is simply mesmerizing. I’ll never, ever forget it.
Being in a backpacking network
This being my first authentic backpacking, hostel-jumping, trailblazing trip, I was not expecting all the other great travelers I’d meet along the way. Through meeting other people, I was able to learn about new places to go, pick up some new budgeting and travel tips, and make a whole bunch of new friends. Being a part of this small network made me feel not quite so far from home.
Visiting tons of Buddhist temples
Although I snapped photos and trekked through tons of temples while in Thailand, there is one that stood out the most: the White Temple of Chiang Rai. It’s completely white facade sparkles in the sunshine, making it seem magical and unreal. The inside walls are covered with modern artwork. The crazy thing is, it was recently destroyed! It was the first and last time I’ll ever be able to visit it.
For all of these reasons, Thailand will forever have a special, adventure-shaped place in my heart.
This is a guest post by Mandi Schmitt from This Limitless World about her experience on one of our projects in Surin, Thailand. Mandi is an adventurous global explorer with a gypsy soul. She quickly realized that the normal, sedentary life just wasn’t for her and made it her life’s ambition to never stop exploring.