안녕하세요 (hello)! Weeks 10 and 11 on this study abroad journey were fantastic. It was the time of the Buddha holiday, so some classes were cancelled and my friends and I decided to go on a trip to Thailand and then Hong Kong! It was so amazing to be able to adventure around Asia like that. The trip took a total of 6 days in Thailand and 5 days in Hong Kong.
I arrived in Thailand on Thursday night and our hostel was located in a place called Nana. The first sight of Thailand that my friend John and I caught was of Lady Boys lining the street of our hotel and offering tickets to raunchy attractions. It was very confusing because these hot women would be walking around and you were never really sure if they were actual women. The culture in Thailand was honestly so progressive that at the end it was not that big of a deal. It was hot, humid, and everything was in your face, so that night Jesse, Sabrina, Mike, John, and I went to eat Arabic food at 3am. The next day we went out to explore the city. We stopped by a street vendor for 90Baht worth of Thai food(less than 3$). I got basil chicken and rice. Then we explored the metro and city markets and raced Tuk-Tuks (rickshaws) back to our hotel to meet our friends Gabby and Danny, who are abroad now in Tokyo. Later that night we went to the Red Light District of Thailand and there club promoters would yell at you to come see their Ping-Pong shows. Everything at the Red Light District was obviously very explicit and vulgar. We went in to see what a Ping-Pong show was and honestly it was not something I would want to see again.
The next day we explored various temples. The architecture surrounding them was gorgeous and we also explored Khao San Road, a typical tourist shopping district, and bought elephant pants there. That night we ended up at Skybar from the Hangover 2. Everything was expensive but the view was to die for. Sabrina’s birthday was that night at 12am so we went to an ice bar to celebrate. I have never seen an ice bar but essentially you go in and the workers give you bear costumes and you go into a room made entirely of ice. That was a great experience because I had no idea what it was and it was so silly. The next day we went to more temples and then the Weekend Market. At the temples I saw the famous reclining Buddha. Then we took a river boat cruise around Thailand. I drank coconut juice on the boat and I felt like I was in a movie. The weekend market was just your typical tourist market. We took Tuk-Tuks everywhere. The humidity was crazy as well because there was no way you would be able to go through the day with dry clothes. The next day we booked a tour for the Floating market and Tiger Temple. At the Floating Market we essentially sat inside of a long boat and went down a canal where other vendors sold stuff to you off of their boats. Then we got Pad Thai at a local restaurant and took the bus to the Tiger Temple. The Tiger Temple was my favorite experience because we got to see and interact with adult and baby tigers. We got to feed the baby tigers and play with them. I felt overjoyed.
Fun facts about Thailand is that fruits of all sorts are sold for 50cents on the streets all ready for you to eat, it’s very hot, Tuk-Tuks are the mode of transportation, and Pad Thai is still just okay. On Tuesday I left my friends in Thailand to join my friend Alissa in Hong Kong.
Let me tell you that Hong Kong was not what I expected. I imagined stereotypical China and having a hard time getting around. What I saw was western people and familiar stores. However, it was an amazing experience all the same. Alissa and I woke up on Wednesday and went to try local foods. We tried Congee, which is a mystery ingredient in rice and a banana leaf. It was odd but apparently a local favorite. Then we met up with Alissa’s cousin Betty, who works for CNN in Hong Kong, and she showed us around. We went to Hong Kong Disneyland and met Minney Mouse and enjoyed the rides. The castle was under construction and therefore the top tier was made of a box. The rides were 1minute long maximum and cute babies from all over the world flocked the Disney streets. Overall, the experience was very exciting and it was interesting to see how the parks differed from the United States. That night we got typical Chinese food in the city. We ate dumplings, pork buns, string beans, etc. It was amazing. There was not a night in Hong Kong when we weren’t extremely full. All thanks to Betty for showing us around.
The next day we got Dim Sum in the morning at a local Dim Sum place around our hotel. We were seated at a table with random Cantonese speaking people and they showed us how it worked. We ate massive pork buns and dumplings and it was amazing. Tea was served with everything. Then we went to see the Big Buddha at Po Lin Monastery and the village around it. It was really high in the mountains and it was a foggy day, so the Buddha looked ominous. Alissa and I walked around the village surrounding the Buddha and got souvenirs. That night we took the ferry around in Causeway Bay and saw the skyline. It was the prettiest city skyline I have ever seen, including New York City. Afterwards we got Peking duck and Maccha, green tea ice cream, for dessert. The next day was Alissa’s birthday so we celebrated at Stanley Island and market, where we ate three old-school western desserts, and then at a Chinese hot pot place. Then we went out on the town with Betty and her friend to Lan Kwai Fung, LKF.
The last full day was my favorite because we go to go on a Junk boat to an island 1 hour off of the coast of Hong Kong. The junk boat was meant for a going away party of one of Betty’s coworkers. From the boat we got to see amazing mountains and water and eventually jumped into Millionaires Bay next to Sai Kung Island. Hong Kong is such an interesting place in that it’s a city with a high-rise skyline against huge mountains and yet has island with clear, light blue water. I got a chance to meet engineers that work in Hong Kong and with them we swam to the little island. The weather was perfect and not as humid as Thailand. That night we had Szechuan food and then we went back home to Seoul.
Wow I can’t believe that I have the opportunity to do all of this and I would recommend an abroad experience in Seoul to anyone. With that said, I am so happy to be here at my home in Seoul. 안녕(goodbye)!