Tis the Season: A Thailand Christmas and a New Holiday Perspective

I’m delighted to make an appearance on Amelia’s blog for her 2016 installment of “Tis the Season.” Hop on over to her little corner of the internet to read about how my Thailand Christmas last year has affected how I view the holidays this year and in the coming years, and maybe stay for a bit to check out some of her book reviews, travel stories, and librarian adventures.

Keep Your Feet

Today’s Tis the Season post comes from Britta of  It’s a Britta Bottle!


A Thailand Christmas and a New Holiday Perspective

One of my absolute favorite Christmas memories is a relatively recent one, in what some might see as a most unconventional location.

The Setting: A shopping mall, Bangkok, Thailand

The Event: Christmas Ice Skating

The Players: A group of Western English teachers

unnamed A visual image of the scenario

Christmas in Thailand! Say what!

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2016: A Reflection

2016, I have decided, will be a year of confidence, of poise, of adventure. It will be putting myself out there in more ways while also continuing to nurture the introvert inside of me. It will be sticking up for myself and chasing after my dreams. It will be blossoming even further into the strong, independent woman I know is inside of me. It will be having faith in my decisions, not doubting what my heart tells me.

 January 3, 2016

— — — —

 2016 was a year. On a global scale, many would agree that it sucked.

On a personal level, it sometimes sucked, but it was mostly quite full. If 2015 was the best year of my life thus far (as I’m pretty sure I dubbed it at its close), 2016 has been the most enriching. In many respects, it was a very painful year—particularly in its early months. 2016 was completely losing all sense of self while simultaneously trying my best to live in a foreign country and culture. It was being alone in Thailand on my birthday, with head lice and pneumonia in tow—at the same time. It was striking out independently in search of my place in this world and feeling a lot of uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt along the way.

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It was also leaving these cuties and the joy of teaching them (on the rare occasions when they wanted to be taught) behind, unsuccessfully holding back tears as I left their classrooms for the last time, because the love, kindness, and intellect of children is grossly undervalued and because they taught me so much.

That said, 2016 did have its bright spots: traveling in Europe with an old high school friend; showing my parents around the beautiful country I called home for six months; having no clue what the heck to do with my life post-Thailand, but trusting my gut in Continue reading “2016: A Reflection”

In Which I Consider The Future…and Feelings of Doubt

Moving to a different city without any job security waiting for you is scary. I’m so glad I did it. I feel more at peace about where I am than I have in ages. It’s still scary, though.

I went to brunch with a fellow graduate from my alma mater a couple weeks ago-she recently acquired a job in DC and moved here–and we were sharing stories about our experiences abroad. She had recently studied abroad in Europe and I, of course, am a few months back from Thailand. We started talking about places and the feelings we get from those places–how she enjoyed her time abroad, but how the city she was living in during her study abroad experience just didn’t feel right for her. How she didn’t feel inspired or alive in it. I was able to relate so much with her because that’s exactly how I felt about Thailand. That’s why I moved placements at the beginning of November and why I ultimately left Thailand in the end. While my second and final placement felt more right to me, it still wasn’t enough. While I will always love Minnesota because it’s my home, living there didn’t feel right, either. Now that I’m in DC, I just know this is where I’m supposed to be for the time being. I think places are like books–the best books are the ones that you read at a time in life when you resonate with them most. Likewise, the best places are those that you can resonate with most at a given time. Thailand was a fantastic place for me to travel through at this point in my life–but it wasn’t the right place for me to Continue reading “In Which I Consider The Future…and Feelings of Doubt”

A Day Trip to Si Satchanalai

When I was planning my trip to Sukhothai, I knew I wanted to stay there for a few days. While I knew Sukhothai Historical Park was the main attraction for visitors coming to Sukhothai Province, I decided to look into other things to do in the area to keep me busy for the entirety of my stay. When I travel, I like to spend at least a few days in a given area. I tire easily (a reality of being a highly sensitive person) and I also like to take time to really get to know and appreciate an area. I’d always rather see less overall on a trip and take in as much as I can in one place than constantly be moving from place to place. During my trip to Sukhothai, I was satisfied to just explore the town of New Sukhothai on one day and had Sukhothai Historical Park planned for another day. Given that I had three full days in Sukhothai, I wanted to find another adventure to go on elsewhere in the province for the third day.

Enter Si Satchanalai. Si Satchanalai (more commonly know as Si Satch by the locals) is a district in Sukhothai Province about an hour north of New Sukhothai, the capital city of the province. It is home to Si Satchanalai Historical Park, a veritable treasure trove of gorgeous temple ruins in a wooded and rustic setting.

Si Satch was the sister city of Old Sukhothai and the administrative center of the Sukhothai Kingdom.

Lovers of history and architecture and those travelers intrigued by sites off the main tourist path will love Si Satch. It’s a bit out of the way and requires more planning, more walking/biking, and definitely more water (a mistake I ran into that I will get to later), but, as someone who is both a history nerd and appreciates places outside the main tourist path, I absolutely adored Si Satch–and came away with a few lessons about solo travel along the way. I wouldn’t recommend going to Si Satch in place of Sukhothai Historical Park–you’d be missing out on a lot of really great sites and culture by doing that–but if you have an extra day in Sukhothai Province and aren’t put off by spending two days in a row visiting ancient cities, I definitely recommend the trip to Si Satch; it is an absolute gem of a place. Overall, I found my experience Continue reading “A Day Trip to Si Satchanalai”

Visit Nakhon Pathom!

Nakhon Pathom is the small province I lived in for five months when I taught English in Thailand. Bordering Bangkok to the west, it’s an area brimming with history and culture, though not one that is visited often by travelers coming from outside of Thailand.

While most tourists and expats alike venture through Nakon Pathom from Bangkok on their way to neighboring Kanchanaburi–a well-known tourist destination because of its magnificent national parks and the history it holds as the location of the famous Death Railway Bridge–they don’t realize the rich culture and history they are passing by in Nakhon Pathom.

Nakhon Pathom certainly doesn’t have the same allure as other destinations close to Bangkok–such as Ayutthaya, home to the ruins of the second capital of Siam; Kanchanaburi; and Koh Samet, the closest island to Thailand’s captial city at three hours away. That said, its rich Buddhist history makes it a prime stop for those especially interested in history and/or Buddhism. Those travelers who enjoy destinations off the main tourist path will also appreciate Nakhon Pathom for the rich culture present in this area without being downtrodden by the high prices and destructive nature tourism oftentimes brings to local environments.

When not stuck in Bangkok traffic, it takes about an hour to get from the heart of Bangkok to Nakhon Pathom city. A visit to Nakhon Pathom could make an easy day trip, but for those interested in traveling more extensively around the Continue reading “Visit Nakhon Pathom!”

Sukhothai Historical Park

The night before I was planning to go to Sukhothai Historical Park–the first historic capital of Siam–I met a fellow traveler at my guest house who was also planning on going to the park the following day. We decided to go together, which ended up being a wonderful adventure–it’s always fun to meet new people while traveling and though I don’t expect to ever see her again, my new guest house friend and I had a lovely time exploring the ancient ruins together.

Rested and ready for more adventures after my first, quieter day in Sukhothai, I got up early to get some breakfast prior to heading to the park.

A local bus–which was really more like a songthaew–goes between New Sukhothai and Old Sukhothai on a regular basis for a small sum of 30 baht ($0.85 USD) one way. We caught it on New Sukhothai’s main road, not far from Poo Restaurant. The bus takes about twenty minutes to get from New Sukhothai to Old Sukhothai; while on the bus, we chatted with another solo female traveler who was also heading to see the ruins.

We were dropped off right outside the park entrance and immediately headed to rent bikes. There are a few bike rental places right across the street from the park entrance; for a small fee (I can’t remember how much off the top of my head), we acquired two rickety and questionably safe bikes for the day. I mean, I’m still here to tell the tale, but I’ve Continue reading “Sukhothai Historical Park”