It's almost the middle of march and it's been snowing in Seoul for the past couple of days. I woke up from a nap yesterday evening, only to pull open my window shades and see a mixture of rain and snow fall from the sky. I quickly pulled down the shades, turned up my heater and proceeded to fall back to sleep, while willing myself to dream of a tropical getaway I'd traipsed around, just short of two weeks ago.
Over the next few posts I'll share some specific experiences and pictures with you about my time in the Land of Smiles. And it's called that for a reason. Though Thailand is known to be a hot tourist destination for visitors from across the planet, there's something to be said about the locals, who radiate a warmth I never realized I'd missed while living in Korea.
From the moment we stepped off the plane we were greeted with the traditional "Sawatdee Kaa" (hello), gentle joining of hands at chest level, and beaming, genuine smiles.
This continued on throughout the trip, (well, minus the joining of hands, used mostly for formal greetings). This was such a refreshing change from Seoul, where a smile from a foreigner (especially one like me) ignites stares and 'deer in the headlight' looks from native Koreans.
Thailand is definitely not short of scenery. It doesn't matter whether you're in fast and heavy Bangkok, or lounging along the Krabi coast -- just a quick look up or into the distance promises cliffs, centuries-old temples, palaces and traditional markets that can't be matched by any other part of the world, I think.
This trip was of the healing kind for me. It had been so long since I'd been in an environment where people were relaxed, easy-going and worked to live rather than lived to work. My soul was grateful and my mind relaxed.
Now, I'm sure some of you will argue that I avoided scuttling through a lot, in terms of the impoverish pockets in Bangkok or other parts of the country. I'm very aware of all that lacks in this part of the world, but it wasn't the focus of my visit. I was simply looking for all the beauty it had to offer. I wanted it to engulf me and beam through my entire body as I boarded the plane back to Seoul. And it did.
I've always said I'm a tropical girl at heart, though I live in Canada and have now experienced one of the worst Korean winters in over 70 years. I don't think this will ever change. Something about the pace, the heat, the tropical beauty and culture of this part of the world agrees with me. It's where I feel most like myself. Whether it be Goa, India, or Krabi, Thailand -- smiles just come more naturally to me in the tropics.