I’ve been spending time in Thailand since December of 2005. I thought of Thailand as an amazing vacation destination and a country where I could help wonderful people who were in need. You see, I stepped off an airplane in Phuket exactly 1 year after the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 devastated the islands. I’ve been back to Phuket and Khao Lak, which is about an hour to the north, 9 times and have spent 9 months in Thailand over the past two years.
On Thursday, I’ll board a flight and 27 hours later (yep, it takes that long from Charleston, SC) I’ll land in Thailand for what could be the last time. After my first trip to Thailand in 2005, I never imagined I’d be back so often. I thought perhaps I’d visit a few times, but nothing like what it became. About two years ago I got assigned a work project in Bangkok, Thailand, that would send me back and forth between Charleston, London and Thailand numerous times – and for extended periods of time.
I’ve discovered that Bangkok is a great place to visit, and if given the opportunity, think everyone should see it once. At the same time, I fell in love with Phuket (not the city itself, but the surrounding towns), Khao Lak, Krabi and the northern city of Chiang Mai. I recommend spending time in the less populated areas of the country and areas that aren’t overly touristy (yes, there are still some of those areas left.)
Over the year’s I’ve spent time at an orphanage in between Phuket and Khao Lak helping to rebuild and provide essentials. I even sponsored a child through the Thai Organization, ChildFund Thailand under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Jaha Chakri Sirindhorn. It’s an organization that I’ve become highly engaged with and uniquely familiar with. They are a truly outstanding organization and even if this is my last trip to Thailand, I will continue to support them and sponsor a child.
Believe it or not, I re-connected with a middle-school acquaintance who is stationed at the US Embassy in Thailand and have enjoyed getting to know her again. I’ve made unique connections with some of the hotel managers since I’ve spent literally hundreds of nights in their hotels.
As my project comes to a close, I face the reality that this is very likely my last trip to Thailand. It’s kind of sad in one way, but it also means that I’ll have an opportunity now to explore other parts of the world. Sure, I could always return to Thailand on vacation, and that could happen at some point in the future, but it’s not likely to be any time soon given all of the other places on my list.
As I pack my bags for perhaps the last trip to Thailand, I am a little teary eyed. Perhaps on my long flights I’ll start planning my 2014 vacation – to Africa!