It is extremely difficult to travel around (and outside) Australia on the weekends because everything is so spread out or far way! This past week was our spring break, so I decided to go to Thailand with some friends. We had ten days and spent them in two popular Thailand cities: Bangkok and Phuket. To prepare for my trip, I needed to do a bunch of research on what I needed to bring, what vaccinations I needed, if I needed to apply for a visa, etc. Thailand is a more conservatively dressed country, so I needed to buy a lot of pairs of linen pants to stay as cool as possible while adapting to Thailand’s cultural norms. It was also necessary to bring at least 400 AUD (10,000 Baht), which I was concerned about because I never carry that much cash on me at a time. After getting to Thailand, I was very glad I did!
This was a major culture shock. To me, Australia is very similar to the United States, so I did not experience much culture shock while living in Sydney; however, Thailand was a very different environment. The biggest obstacle that we faced was the language barrier. In Australia I did not experience a difficult language barrier since the national language is English (my last blog post talked about Australian language). What helped was that all of the people that we interacted with were really nice and helpful! Although it was hot and humid and the sun was incredibly strong, I had such a great time and was so happy I went to Thailand for spring break! We did a tuk tuk night tour where we went to local markets, ate local Thai food (including eating Pad Thai at the oldest Pad Thai restaurant in Bangkok), and visited temples including Wat Pho. We also went to the floating markets, a temple tour where we visited four temples in Bangkok, and we also took a cooking class where we learned how to cook 12 (yes you read that right) different types of local Thai food! While in Phuket, we went to the beach because it is a more touristy area, we went on a Phang Nga Bay Sea Cave tour where we kayaked around islands off of Thailand and actually kayaked through caves! Lastly, in Phuket we visited an elephant sanctuary where we learned how to keep the elephants safe and fed them.
Advice that I would give to anyone that wants to travel while studying abroad is to plan early. Make sure to book your flights and hotels early enough to try to get the best deals. Also, something that I really liked is that we booked a lot of our activities in advance which ensured that we always had something to do and did not waste the limited time that we had there. It is very important that when going to a country like Thailand to make sure you have a good amount of cash on hand or bring a debt card to use at an ATM because there are very few places that take credit cards. Lastly, make sure to take a lot of pictures and have fun! 😊