From a young age I have been extremely lucky to have been able to go on holiday most years, seeing different parts of the world and having the opportunity to observe and embrace alternative cultures. This is something that has really shaped me as a person. For example, through being exposed to both the lifestyles of those with everything and that of those with nothing, I have gained a real sense of gratefulness for all that I have and I’ve also been able to learn a lot from these people.

I used to be a very materialistic person but this was changed when I was in Koh Samui, Thailand a few years ago, where I was driven past a piece of wasteland with a few metal shacks on. There was a group of about 6 Thai men playing volleyball over a ripped net in the centre of the land, all wearing dirty and damaged clothes. To my surprise at the time, these were some of the happiest people I had ever seen.

At first I was confused; how can someone so unfortunate with so little be so happy? Then it hit me. They didn’t have much, I know. What they did have though was friendship. Family. Support. That’s all they needed to be happy. It really is the little things that keep you happy. You don’t need material possessions or money to enjoy life, all you need is great people and to be able to do what you enjoy. With this realisation, I fell in love with Thailand.

My first time in Thailand was during the festival of Songkran (Thai New Year) in April of 2014. I was fourteen years of age and had no idea what to expect. When we arrived in Bangkok, I was surprised. We hopped onto the airport link train and then the BTS sky train and I was shocked at how developed the infrastructure was.

Bangkok SkytrainBangkok Skytrain (Photo by Ilya Plakhanov)

I spent the first few days fascinating over the spectacle of a modern infrastructure weaving through a city of buildings and temples hundreds of years, but then my attention was then brought to the people and culture.

Thailand (Bangkok particularly) really is a prime example of cultural hybridity. Whilst the people have preserved their tradition of Buddhism, love and loyalty to their monarchy and each other, they have also adopted elements of modern and western culture in order to keep up with the rest of the world, and it’s beautiful.

If I were to summarise Thailand in a sentence, it’d have to be the following:

Organised chaos, made beautiful by the smiles of the people.

I will be returning to Thailand at the start of September and plan on blogging frequently throughout the trip to a travel diary style recount of my first solo trip aboard, so please come back for that when it happens. For now, I will be posting weekly though.

18 year old student, second degree black belt and instructor in Kuk Sool Won, blogger, and aspiring maths teacher.