|Successfully crossing the border|
Yesterday it was off to Thailand with Sara and Ilaria (the other exchange students in my chapter. Dari Italy!), the chapter president, his son, and another AFS volunteer. We had to leave the country to get a new tourist visa for Malaysia because our student visas haven't been approved yet and our initial tourist visas were about to expire.
Driving there was a very LONG car ride, around 5 hours. There was so much jam (traffic).Couple that with a still slightly sick American and you've got a recipe for disaster. Except...
|LOOK WHAT I FOUND|
Rather hyped up on sugar, we were practically bouncing around the car and I have this strange feeling the adults were more excited about finally arriving than we were...
Even though we were there for a short time, it was amazing how different Thailand felt. Even though Malaysia is literally within walking distance, I was shocked by the foreign-ness. The buildings were taller, voices louder, smells stronger. (Not always good smells. Where we were had a certain odor to it.) Things were a bit chaotic there. Karaoke bars, strip clubs, and lounges lined the streets. Vendors called after us to buy their rice, buy their satay, buy their everything. Ilaria and I received many stares and hellos from slightly sketchy men, but our AFS volunteer turned bodyguard kept us safe.
The picture I got of Thailand was a very distorted one. It's not right to form my opinion of a country based on a few crowded streets. That would be like someone judging the US after only visiting one neighborhood in NY. Each country has its well-kept beautiful secrets, small villages tucked away from busy city streets, and each country has its not-so-pretty side. From what I've heard, Thailand has a culture just as beautiful culture as Malaysia and I definitely want to go back to see the real Thailand. Among other reasons, it is the birthplace of my brothers and I want to visit to learn about their heritage.
Finally, Ilaria and I found a suitably tourist-y shop and bought our obligatory I ♥ Thailand shirts. I also bought a shirt that said something in Thai... No one in the shop knew what it said either as they were Malaysians, but I was assured that it wasn't anything vulgar. Purchases in tow, we headed back across the border.
Thailand smiled at us and slowly grew smaller through the rear window of the car. With our freshly stamped passports secured, we settled down for a rather long car ride full of singing (in Italian and English), sleeping, and eating more food. Our 20 minutes in Thailand became only a memory as we drove away, a memory and a promise to go back.
, by Hannah