We have lived and worked in Bangkok, Thailand, for over a month. With two weeks left at the time of writing this, this overseas experience has truly been a journey of growth. Inching closer to the end of this hike on this mountain.
Outside of work, I have been doing a lot of travelling and exploring Thailand. We indulged in the modern urban landscape and historical sites of Bangkok. This scholarship included cultural excursions, in which we explored Ayutthaya and Erawan Museum. Each and every one of them was eye-opening and rich in culture. I loved being able to take in the sights and learn about the history of those places. On personal excursions, we visited the Grand Palace and Wat Arun, which were just as fun to explore.
On the flip side, we also indulged in the local shopping scene at the BTS Siam Station Mall and IconSiam. Compared to New Zealand, shopping was at a whole other level. The sheer number of stores was initially daunting, but we quickly adapted and greatly enjoyed the diverse options in a single space. We took advantage of this opportunity to purchase many unavailable items back home. I have also visited these places with my co-workers, which have been great bonding experiences for us. And extending beyond that, I also had the opportunity to connect with locals through our common love for cosplay and shows at Japan Expo.
As for trips and plane rides out of Bangkok, our first stop was Krabi. A coastal town, the island hopping tour by longboat was definitely a highlight of this travel destination. It was pleasant escaping from the bustling city to the beach reminiscent of Aotearoa. On the next day, as we had to go back to work on Monday, we took it easy by exploring the local area in which our hostel was located. This was another highlight of the trip as many hidden gems unbeknownst on Google Maps were found. As coffee enthusiasts, we did cafe hopping all around the local area. The drinks and food were incredibly delicious, and we discovered a stationary and study cafe store that was absolutely adorable.
Our other stop was Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The day tour we did around different temples in Chiang Rai was a particularly interesting experience. We learned of the rich artistical culture that existed in the area and took in the endeavours of extravagant architecture. Sadly, locations on this tour, especially the White Temple, were tourist hot spots, so it was crowded with many tour groups. Although this broke a bit of the immersion for us, we still appreciate being able to see the sites in person. It was also engaging learning about the Thai views on life and death expressed through art, which was a valuable insight for me.
As a huge foodie, I loved trying out northern Thai cuisine. The one that particularly stood out to me was khao soi, a coconut curry noodle soup. The blue coconut ice cream at the Blue Temple in Chiang Rai was also iconic. Based on research done prior to this internship, I knew that Chiang Mai had a big coffee culture. So in a similar fashion to the Krabi trip, our last day was dedicated once again to cafe hopping. It was always the most fun exploring the area without much of a plan and being able to visit places that are not tourist driven. Because as much as the island and temple tours are fun, it is also great experiencing the areas more locally.
All of these trips not only enriched my experience here in Thailand but also refreshed and encouraged me to do my best at the internship. These rests on this hike allowed me to look at the spectacular views and remind myself how far I have come with this journey. No matter how gruelling this climb can be, there is always a payoff throughout and in the end.