Thailand: The Land of 1000 Smiles

My adventures in Thailand

I have always wanted to visit Thailand since I could remember. I love Thai food, the artwork, and the architecture so Thailand was always a place I dreamt about traveling to. When I found out about the Southeast Asia trip through IBS, I immediately filled out an application to go. I knew that this was the place I wanted to go to and learn more about the culture. Not to mention the nice, warm weather too!

Everyone is so Happy in Thailand

One thing that I noticed while in Bangkok was how all of the locals seemed so happy and kind. Thailand truly is the Land of 1000 Smiles; everyone welcomes you with open arms and although the city is extremely large and overpopulated, the locals still take the time to slow down and talk with you. That is when I realized that Thailand is my favorite country I have ever been to. I remember walking down the street and seeing everyone looking up and smiling as we walked past. Selling juice, clothing, jewelry, street food, and many other items for tourists, these locals always had a huge grin on their faces. Even the people living in extreme poverty seemed happy and content, which was a major eye-opener to me. A lot of us Americans have so many things and yet we still aren’t happy. It made me more grateful for the things I have back home.

You can Bathe with Elephants on Your Free Day

Bathing the elephants in ThailandMy favorite day in Thailand was when we got the opportunity to take care of elephants on our last day before leaving for Vietnam. We visited a nonprofit organization called Elephants World that provides care for old, sick, abused, handicapped, and mistreated elephants. All of the visitors help care for them by chopping down sugar cane plants, preparing sticky rice balls, feeding the elephants various fruits and vegetables, and giving them mud baths to protect their skin. The entire organization is funded by the visitors (so if you decide to go make sure you set aside $100 for this). The trip to the elephants also includes your transportation to and from the sanctuary, lunch is included, and you are helping to pay for the caring of the elephants. Seeing them grab a watermelon right out of your hands, watching them play in the water, and seeing them interact up close was truly a beautiful experience. I will never forget that day!

Smiling in Thailand with the Elephants

Be Sure to Do Everything You Can

When you get to your destinations, make sure that you say yes to everything you can while you’re there. You’re going to be extremely tired from jet lag, but don’t let that stop you from going places. You’re only going to be in another country for a few days so you need to experience as much as you can. Try all of the weird foods you were hesitant to try. Go on the bus tour with the other students. Visit museums. Talk with the locals. Schedule as many things on your free day that you can. Even though I was tired, I still tried to do the most I could in the little amount of time we had in each country. That way, you won’t have any regrets about what you didn’t do while you were there. IBS pays for transportation on a coach bus with a tour guide, so you could always ask the guide about fun places to go if you’re not sure where something is.

Don’t Be Shy Around Your Fellow Students!

Fellow students in ThailandBefore going on the trip, I was anxious about meeting new people and having to stay with them throughout the trip. I didn’t know who my roommates would be and I was nervous about meeting new people. But I realized that everyone is in the same boat. None of us knew each other prior to the trip. We were all going to a new country and meeting new people. My roommates turned out to be awesome and everyone got along great. It’s best to stay in groups anyways for safety if you ever get lost trying to find somewhere to go. These students that you meet along the way could also turn out to be long-life friends with you if you keep in touch! I met a lot of great people during my trip and the friendships that I know will last a long time.

Allison Marshall

School: Northern Illinois University

"Traveling makes you modest; you see what a small place you occupy in the world.”

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