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Journaling through Thailand

Chance Riley is in fourth grade at Woodmen Hills Elementary School. His parents are Pete and Denise Riley of Falcon. Chance wrote this article from a journal about his trip to Thailand.In December 2005, I visited Thailand with my family for a month-long vacation. My dad spent part of his life in Thailand as a kid, and we like to visit there whenever we can.After a couple days in Bangkok, we traveled by train to Chiang Mai, a city in the north. On the train, we got to see a lot of Thailand that we wouldn’t have gotten to see if we had traveled by airplane. We passed through many small villages. When we arrived in Chiang Mai the next morning, we checked into our hotel and later that evening visited the night market where I got a foot massage. And we bought some souvenirs.The next day we went to the Maeteman Elephant Camp, where we saw an elephant show. The elephants did some cool tricks like playing basketball, kicking soccer balls, walking on two legs and playing the tambourine. One elephant even painted a picture of some flowers that my dad bought.After the show, my mom, dad and I went elephant riding and visited a traditional hill tribe village. Thailand has many hill tribes in the northern part of the country. We finished up by going on a bamboo raft ride down the river. It was really neat to see the scenery along the river.The next day we went to the King’s Winter Palace and to a temple called Doi Sutep. They are both located in the mountains near Chiang Mai. The Doi Sutep temple was really neat, and my dad told me the story of how he and his family visited the very same temple for Christmas vacation almost 40 years ago! We even got to hear the Buddhist monks chanting.Our trip to Chiang Mai finished, we rode back to Bangkok on the train. On our 11th day in Thailand, we visited the world’s largest flea market, otherwise known as Cha-tu-Chak. There are over 9,000 vendors who sell everything you can think of, including animals, food, souvenirs and furniture. We bought a few things for our friends back home.Our travels the next day took us to a place called the Ancient City. This is a place where they have built scaled down versions of different places throughout Thailand. We bicycled through the entire place looking at the smaller versions of places like Sukothai (the ancient capital), the King’s Palace, and we even visited a small version of a Thai village, complete with a teakwood traditional Thai house.One place I couldn’t wait to see was the Bangkok Snake Farm. My dad told me all about how he went there when he was a kid and had not seen it since. I think he was as excited about it as I was. We got to see poisonous snakes like the King Cobra, Hissing Cobra and Banded Krait. I even got to hold a very big Burmese Python, which, of course, was not poisonous.Halfway though our trip, we went on a boat ride on the Chao Praya River with my cousins. We saw all the beautiful temples along the water, and we waved at people who work and live along the river. We stopped at the Royal Barge museum where the King’s fleet of ceremonial boats is kept. He brings these out every few years and has a Royal Barge procession down the Chao Praya River. The boats are very old, some built as long ago as the 1800s.Next, we went to stay on an island in the Gulf of Thailand. The island we chose was Elephant Island, or ‘Koh Chang,’ in Thai. On our first day, we went on a long elephant ride! We stopped off at a watering hole and went swimming while the elephants took a break. One of the things we saw when we went on our elephant ride was groves of rubber trees where they were tapping the trees for the latex.On Dec. 20, we went to Ton Mayom Waterfall, one of the many waterfalls on Elephant Island. Ton Mayom is located in a national park area on the island. After a short hike, we reached the falls and went swimming and rock skipping. It was a beautiful place.In Thailand, when people are buried after they die, they are placed in graveyards at the temples in something called a ‘Chedi’. My granny lived in Thailand for over 20 years, so when she died, she was buried in a Chedi there. On Christmas Eve, we went to visit my Granny’s Chedi. I really enjoyed helping my uncles pay tribute to her.Next, we went back to Chiang Mai to attend a traditional Thai wedding. It was a very cool celebration. We got to participate in the traditions and I got to wish the bride and groom well and pour holy water over their hands. After that, there was lots of singing, dancing and food and music for the rest of the evening.The next day we got together and went for a bamboo raft ride down the same river I had been on earlier in the month. It was lots of fun to go this time with all my cousins and aunts and uncles. We had to have two rafts to hold all of us.On our last full day in Thailand, my mom, dad and I attended Thai cooking school. I helped them cook and learned a lot about Thai cooking too. The best part was that we got to eat everything we cooked!Before I knew it, our vacation was over, and it was time to leave. I learned a lot about Thailand, the Thai people and food during my time there. I hope to go back some day, and I know that this is one trip I will never forget. I saw a lot of things that kids my age don’t normally get to see, so I feel very fortunate. I hope someday you may be able to visit another country, maybe even Thailand, to see how other people live and work.

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