Part 1: Sawadee Ka!

2012 after Regi and I tied the knot we were unable to honeymoon immediately. We decided it was not worth it to take on a large sum of debt for such a short-lived trip. Saving up for a trip of a lifetime taught us so much about marriage in our first year. Being fiscally responsible and being ok with experiencing delayed gratification was a great lesson for us.  As we tried to decide where we would like to travel we developed a list of criteria:

  • A trip of adventure versus a trip of relaxation

  • Robust culture

  • Safety

  • Affordable

  • FOOD!

In the end Thailand was a destination of choice. We were so excited and terrified all at once. This would be our first big trip together and we weren’t quite sure what our married travel style would be.

My best friend just so happened to be serving as Peace Corp volunteer in a nearby country so she met us in Thailand. A friend that she had made during her Master’s program was a native to Thailand and graciously took us under her wing. We are forever grateful to her because she helped to make our trip unforgettable!

I’ll never forget when we arrived in Bangkok, Thailand. We soon learned the Thai greeting Sawadee Ka which we mastered and were excited to use throughout our travels. From the city to the mountains to the ocean no amount of blog reading and research could prepare us for what we were going to embark on. A culture so vibrant and hospitable. Food so delicious and robust in flavor. It was everything we could have asked for and more.

We headed straight to the floating markets to experience one of our main priorities…FOOD!

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The flavors were nothing that I expected. Forget any pathetic American attempt at Thai food. I likened the experience to the loud, fast paced environment of New York City. What you saw was what you got and it was made right in front of you. I had to remove my pretentious apprehensions (was it washed thoroughly, where did it come from, etc etc). The faster I just went with the flow the better.

While perusing our surrounds I happened upon my very first Monk. At first I squealed with delight and captured a picture. However, I soon realized that these Monks were not there for my viewing pleasure. They were there because this was their home. They were practicing their religion, their culture and whether or not I found it “neat” or “picture-worthy” their presence was sacred. It was real and authentic and I realized at that moment I no longer wanted to be a tourist. I wanted to fully immerse myself in the culture and most importantly honor and respect it.

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After venturing off the beaten path to the floating markets, we made our way back to the central Bangkok. Of course there was a McDonald’s and the most interesting part to me were the Thai options. Instead of a beef patty, why not a pork patty? Smack dab in the middle of Thailand were sacred, century old temples that we had the opportunity to visit and climb atop of. To show respect and modesty women had to wear skirts in these areas so I was prepared with an extra skirt to wear on top of my shorts.  A trip to Ayutthaya (pronounced U-T-I) was the next location on our Thailand travel bucket list.

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