|I arrived at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport|
Photo Credit: JoeDuck, Creative Commons
I landed in Thailand last night.
Just typing that sentence sets off another round of internal squeals of excitement. We have a little more than two weeks off, which I'll be spending in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Lanta, with a couple of days across the Cambodian border in Siem Reap and at Angkor Wat. It's going to be a bit of a whirlwind, especially at first, since I'll be going somewhere new about every two days, but I didn't want to regret not fitting in the trip to Angkor. I'll have a little longer in Chiang Mai and nearly a week in Koh Lanta, where - if the weather cooperates - I'm hoping to get my dive certification.
When I was growing up, I was so enamoured of France and then of Europe in general that I had very little interest in Asia. Not to mention, as a young teenager the idea of going somewhere that seemed so utterly foreign was more terrifying than exciting. But, on a whim my sophomore year of college, I picked up a compilation of travelers' stories about Thailand and my interest began to grow. By the time I returned to the States from my year in France, Southeast Asia was firmly on my travel wishlist - for some time in the hazy future.
Choosing an Australian postgraduate program turned my world upside in more ways than one. Oceania and Asia, which had been filed under "someday" in my travel plans, jumped to the top of the list overnight and I discovered an enthusiasm and anticipation for Southeast Asia in particular that were far stronger than I had realized.
With a larger-than-usual tax return due to having paid most of the costs of my first year of grad school in early 2010 and a two-week break scheduled for April, visions of Thai street food and markets began to dance in my head and I started to look at fares from Sydney to Bangkok. When I started to plan out possible itineraries, I surprised myself again when I realized that I already knew exactly what I wanted this first trip to Asia to include: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, dive certification at one of the southern beaches and a jaunt into Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat - if I could work out the timing to fit it all in.
After some agonizing about whether to include Angkor and destination-hop every few days for the first part of my trip or to leave it out and spend more time exploring Chiang Mai and southern Thailand, I decided to include a few days in Cambodia. I know myself well enough to be sure that coming so close to such a major site without going to see it would drive me crazy.
I arrived in Bangkok late last night and, after a few hours' sleep, am ready to dive in. First up: Chatuchak Weekend Market, followed by some temple time.
So it's Bangkok, Siem Reap, Chiang Mai, Koh Lanta and me for the next two weeks: ready, set...go!