Where in the world has Media Works been?
This Travel Tuesday, Danielle is personally taking you across the world to Southeast Asia!
Just over a year has passed since I spent 12 months living and working in Bangkok, Thailand and ultimately loving what is often called, “The Land of Smiles.” During my time abroad I worked as an English teacher at an all-boys private school. This was by far one of the most exciting, challenging, and unforgettable experiences of my life. Not only did I explore Thailand, but also traveled to other “exotic” destinations such as Vietnam and Laos. If you ever get the chance to travel to Southeast Asia, below are some “must-see” places and things to do. I encourage everyone to visit these unbelievable countries at least once in their lifetime.
There was nothing that could have prepared me for my travels onto the streets of Bangkok. The city is constantly buzzing and much like New York City, it appears as if it never sleeps. Street vendors line the sidewalks, all cooking and selling authentic Thai dishes. Cabs, buses, cars, motorbikes or “motos”, and tuk-tuks (open air trucks) zip in and out of traffic. The sights, smells, and sounds are all intoxicating and grab your attention. Bangkok is full of culture and history that the locals are proud of and often celebrate. Below is a picture of a “Wat” or temple that we visited on one of our days of exploring through the city.
Another high traffic area of Bangkok is Khao San Road, also known as the “Backpackers Road”. You may recognize this name if you have seen the movie “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. This area is a central hub for travelers who are exploring South East Asia. Whether you are just passing through, or staying for months, you won’t be disappointed. The street is lined with vendors selling everything from knock-off Ray Ban sunglasses to edible scorpions, which is not advised for consumption. There are guest houses everywhere you turn with the friendliest Thai people ready and willing to accommodate you. Travel agencies are eager to book an exciting adventure worth every “baht” (Thai currency). Below is a look at one of the many street performers on Khao San Road.
Chang Mai, Thailand
This northern part of Thailand is quiet with breathtaking landscapes. Rice fields go on for what seems like forever and although it is just a days’ worth of traveling from Bangkok, its feels as if you have been transported to another land. While there, we stayed at a B&B called “The Secret Garden”, which was the perfect place to relax. The streets are quiet with many people traveling on bikes. The open air markets offer many opportunities to try new foods as well as purchase interesting souvenirs. Chang Mai is best known for their love and care for Elephants, which is the symbol of the nation. While there I was lucky enough to visit an Elephant Conservation Center. At the center we spent time getting to know the elephants by training, riding, and even bathing them at the end of the day. It was an exciting and unforgettable experience!
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
If you’re looking for paradise, this may just be it! Located amongst the Southern Islands of Thailand, the beauty of this island is magnificent. Easy to travel to and from Bangkok either by bus, plane, or train, it was well worth the trip. With crystal blue waters, tropical huts, white sands and pure tranquility, this location must be added to your bucket list. We were fortunate enough to spend two weeks there and every moment was memorable. Most days were often spent on the beach, swimming, snorkeling, sun-bathing. The nights were filled with beach parties going into the early morning hours. As mentioned above, “The Beach” was filmed at this location and probably gave Maya Bay its notoriety. It has become quite the tourist spot but still has not lost its beauty.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
October of 2010 was a month I spent traveling up the coast of Vietnam. We began our travels into Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam. Only spending a few days there we decided to go sight see and explore. We visited the Vietnam War Museum which gave us look into another view of our history. The exhibits were extremely moving and emotional. We also booked a trip to take a river boat down the Mekong Delta, which has so much history it was an eye-opening experience. We then visited Vietnamese communities that live along the river selling unique jewelry, pottery, and food. Eventually we took a bike tour and then also a guided tour through the small canals in what could be described as a canoe.
Working our way north up the coast we stopped in Hanoi. This was much like the others cities we had seen, but our main reason to visit Hanoi was the chance to see Halong Bay. While researching what to do we constantly heard of the “Junk Boat” tour. After purchasing tickets we set off for a 2 day/3 night tour of Halong Bay. The bay was just as stunning as we had been told. We spent one night on the boat and the second night on an island in the middle of the bay called, “Castaway Island”. With no running water or electricity this was a jarring experience. Days were spent swimming, canoeing and boating. Niight swimming offered the chance to watch the water light up with glowing plankton. This is a sight I will never forget!
Fun Fact: The topography of Halong Bay was used to help James Cameron create the land of Avatar.