If there is anything new in Thailand, it is well hidden. Everything from the streets to the buildings, even the people and plants are weathered and worn. Everything seems to have a story of its own to tell, everything seems to possess an ancient knowledge which, if you if you don’t search hard enough for, you wouldn’t know existed. In the United States, everything has an expiration date and we value anything new, upgraded, modernized, cutting-edge, or youthful. In Thailand, what is most sacred is what is ancient, totemic, wise, and enduring. There is pride and dignity in being worn from labor and wizened, and in what has been allowed to mature and take root. There is a patience inherent in Thai culture which may well be the envy of many an American who scarcely has a moment to stop and smell the flowers, let alone cultivate and watch them grow. The most beautiful places are those which would probably have long since been bulldozed, remodeled, recycled, or otherwise abandoned and forgotten in many other “modern” societies. Continue reading
Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 7:00am found my brother Kevin and me waiting in the terminal of Sky Harbor Airport. It was the start of what would be one of the most unique and incredible experiences of our 23- and 24-year old lives. Neither of us quite knew what to expect, and though we had been saving up for this trip for months and our desire to travel internationally had been conceived years ago, our anticipation mingled with trepidation. It had been mere weeks since we’d agreed on Thailand as our destination and mere days since we’d finalized out itinerary. But it was adventure we said we wanted, and it was adventure we were sure we’d get.
Our international travel experience (or lack thereof) was made plain by the yet-unmarked pages of our passport books which we brandished with pride, perhaps secretly hoping to let everyone who saw us know that we were worldly folk. We had made no attempt to ease our way into this new existence; Bangkok is about as near to the opposite side of the globe of Phoenix, Arizona as one can hope to get (that spot actually lies somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean), and the flight there is one of the longest anyone can take. We were diving in head-first and we weren’t wearing life jackets.
Hiking shoes, sunscreen, and mosquito spray–plenty of mosquito spray–were tucked away in our luggage and would, we hoped, be enough to protect us from whatever awaited us in the Thai jungle. Yes, we were really doing this. There was no turning back now. So as the airport gate agent called our boarding group, we did what everyone else there did–business men going on business trips, families going on vacation, students going home for the summer–and what we’d done dozens of times before; we boarded our plane. Those first steps were the start of an adventure we will never forget. We were on our way… Continue reading