Why Thailand? I must have been asked that question 10 times since I decided I was going. To me, it seems obvious. Maybe not obvious, but at least understandable - it's not like I'm taking a leisurely vacation to war-torn Syria or Somalia, or jetting off to the moon. Though judging by the reactions of some, you'd think that's right where I was heading.
So, why Thailand?
1. Elephants. I love elephants. I really, really love elephants. Their intelligence is just as astounding as their stature, and I've always wanted to have a face-to-face (trunk?) experience with an elephant. When I was in high school, a foreign exchanged student from Thailand told stories of people riding elephants to work, or keeping them in their backyards like horses. I determined there and then I had to experience a culture where elephants are as much a part of daily life as a dog or a car, and Thailand fits that description.
2. The dollar goes a long way. One United States dollar equals approximately 33.88 Thai baht. Consider that compared to many countries in Europe where the dollar translates to 90 cents, and Thailand starts to look even more appealing. A full meal can cost $5. A beer? $2.50. A very nice hostel will house you in a shared dorm for $15 a night, and boat and bus transportation is similarly as inexpensive. It's a millennial's paradise.
3. Flights are affordable from the west coast. While I'm living in Los Angeles, it just makes sense to fly westward. Flights to Europe would be far more expensive, and would most likely require a layover in New York or Boston. A round trip flight to Bangkok from Los Angeles can cost as little as $450 or $500, depending on the time of year. I just took advantage of my geography!
4. I had reliable resources. I have wonderful friends and coworkers who have been to Thailand and were willing to offer their anecdotes and recommendations as I was putting together my trip. Having friends whom I could quickly text, "Is it safe in Chiang Mai?" or, "How can I get to Koh Phi Phi?" was extra-beneficial when planning this trip.
5. I try to go where I haven't gone before. Though I've been to many places to which I fully intend to return, I have a firm belief that new horizons are meant to be explored. I've been to the Caribbean, and South America, and Canada. I wanted to go somewhere entirely new and unexplored. Europe and Asia were two top contenders - I had considered Germany and Cambodia and the Netherlands and Norway. But Thailand kept calling me back - it seemed like everything I was searching for in an adventure could be found in Thailand.
And with that, I have exactly one week and a few hours until my next adventure begins. Starting on October 15, you'll be able to follow my adventures here on the blog, and through my Instagram (@mandihefflinger) and Snapchat (amanda_bonanza). I can't wait to take you all along on my trip!