First Impressions

America is loud! Bangkok a city of about 6.3 million people has every ability to be loud, and as weird as it sounds, the traffic even seemed quiet.  I began to notice that when our group was on the sky train, or even walking down the street we were twice as loud as any sound nearby.  
When on the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai I woke up early in the morning around 5am.  As I opened my window shade we were just puling up to a station.  I saw stray dogs fighting, people sleeping on benches, small fires lit to keep warm in houses made from wood and tin, and piles and piles of trash.  I believe the most shocking feeling observed in Thailand so far is that such great poverty can exist only steps away from the fanciest store on the street, or in the alley next to the highest class hotel.  My mind has not even begun to wrap around this new and beautiful culture I am experiencing.  While I see so much need here, my heart breaks as I think about how blessed I am, how much I have been given, and how many opportunities have been offered to me. 
As part of the assignments for class we are encouraged to read Travels Tales Thailand.  One quote that really struck me was,”…it is my firm belief that travel involves experiences not sights.  Real travel is coming across people whose viewpoints are completely different from your own, finding out that you still have much in common, that you can communicate regardless–and that you can learn a lot.  Travel is transformation–if the trip shook your ideas up, if the experience changed you, then the journey was a success.”–Michael Buckley
This simple statement really changed the way I hope to experience this trip, it is not just about the amazing sights, it is so much about the people and the culture and beginning to understand not only the Thai culture but to better understand my own as well.  I hope very much that by the end of this trip my ideas are shook up, and that I am a changed person.

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