My internship was canceled the last week I was in Thailand, which was a little disappointing, but may have been a blessing in disguise. I was able to travel around the whole country in a week. It was very exhausting, but also very worth it at the same time. My coordinator in Thailand told me I was one in her record for seeing so much of the country in such a short period of time. I started off the week in Kanchanaburi, which I spoke about last week, and then traveled to Ayutthaya for a day trip, spent a couple times at Koh Samed at the beach, shadowed at a military hospital in Bangkok, and then finished the week in Chang Mai for zip lining and elephant riding.
Ayutthaya was so much fun. I did the day trip by myself because the other volunteer I was traveling with, Jenny, came down with a stomach bug. I was a little nervous at first about getting lost, but I had no problems! I rented a tuk-tuk when I got there for a few hours and he showed me around to the different temples and ruins. He was so nice! You could definitely tell that he sincerely cared about showing me the town and culture. He tried explaining things to the best of his ability with his broken English, and made sure he could pack in as many sights as he could in the time I rented him for. At one of the temples, I was blessed by one of the monks, which was an amazing experience. He blessed me with good luck and happiness and tied a bracelet around my wrist.
The next day, Jenny and I made our way to Koh Samet, which is an island in the Gulf of Thailand. It was beautiful. We only stayed two nights, but it was worth it. We did a snorkeling trip while we were there, and our guides, again, were great! They would point out different fish, and find seashells for us. One of them ended up doing a back flip off the boat, and my gymnast self wanted to try as well. I really thought nothing could go wrong until I hit bottom and scraped the top of my foot on some of the coral. I didn’t think it was anything bad, but a couple days later when we were back in Bangkok, half my foot was red and swollen and hurt really bad. I ended up going to the clinic there and had to get a bunch of medication and antibiotics. Come to find out, coral has the same poison as jellyfish do. The doctor spoke some English but all he said when I asked him what would’ve happened if I didn’t come in was, “bad, bad.” Woops! Other than that, the beach was amazing. It was so small and quiet, very relaxing! We ate breakfast lunch and dinner with the waves passing right under us, and the water felt incredible!
Last Friday we shadowed at the military hospital in Bangkok, and it was very interesting. They had many machines that did the movements for the patients, whereas here in the states I have seen more manual movement by the therapists. It was a really nice hospital, and the therapist was very welcoming. He told us if we came back to Thailand we could shadow in his clinic again!
We ended the week in Chang Mai, which was one of my favorite places in Thailand. It is the second largest city in Thailand, but nothing like Bangkok. It was very clean and friendly; the atmosphere was very welcoming. We had two jam packed days of zip lining and elephant riding. At both places, our guides and trainers were great. The zip lining guides would joke around with us to make the rides and climbs from tree to tree more exhilarating and enjoyable. And the trainers at the elephant rescue camp were so caring and playful. I think my absolute favorite was the elephant camp. All of the elephants were rescued from circuses, logging companies, or different places where the elephants were treated poorly. The trainers explained how they took care of the elephants, and we were able to help them. We fed them, bathed them, and learned how to ride them.
It was very hard when I had to pack up and say my goodbyes. I really didn’t want to go. I realized that one month for an internship is really not long enough. I had just started to get to know the people and culture. I am still in disbelief that I’m home, but have learned so much from my time abroad.