After meeting my five friends from Thailand, while working in Yellowstone National Park, I went to visit them in Thailand. We took a six day tour of the country starting in Bangkok and Ayutthaya, followed by Hatyai, Songkhla and Koh Adang and finished in the rural rice fields of Krasaesin. After visiting the overwhelming, colorful and crowded Bangkok it was relaxing to feel the open air of the countryside in Krasaesin.
I spent my nights with Goy, one of my friends, and her family. They live in a spacious house in the country. Both of her parents enjoy horticulture, so her yard is covered with hundreds of species of plants. The plants are lush and leafy making her yard look like Jurassic Park. Her father, who is particularly found of gardening, tends to a rare golden leaf plant, this plant produces golden leaves during optimal weather conditions, only once every couple years. The leaves turn velvety and a dark reddish brown color that looks golden when the light hits just so. He gave me two of these special leaves to take home to my parents.
In the countryside there are many temples for people to honor Buddha, water buffalo working in fields and little white egrets and markets selling fresh fish, produce, spices and meats. In the United States I am not used to seeing fresh meats with any traces of the animal’s outer body, so I like to see the poultry with bones, organs and blood still showing. As I walked around looking at the goods, I tried my first fried banana, delicious. We went to more shops to buy souvenirs for my friends.There were many baskets, mats, fans and other items made from reeds. I regret not buying one of the mats, these are placed on the floor when you are eating a meal. I bought my friend a gold and purple jeweled Thai bracelet. I also bought three Thai wooden puppets, the king, queen and joker, characters from an old Thai story, for my young students back in China.
After shopping we went to eat Thai food from the best traditional restaurant in town, an outdoor restaurant with wooden benches, tables and roofing. We ate the Thai classics, som tum, tom yum soup, fish and braised pork. With delightfully full bellies they drove me through the endless rice fields. The fields where covered with tall palm trees and flocks of white egrets. We drove further until we reached the four mile bridge, a bridge that crosses a huge lake. In the lake there was a man in a boat watching over a herd of water buffalo and a couple fishermen and pink water lily gardens.
My entire trip through Thailand was magical and would not have been nearly as meaningful if it had not been for the presence of my friends. It was great to see them again and to see what their life is like at home. They made me feel so comfortable while traveling. Friends can show you the kinds of things that are really enjoyable, their favorite foods, shopping markets and peaceful places.