Gratitude. Things I'm Grateful For #8 : SE Asia Edition

Sawatdee kaa from Thailand!! And Happy Thanksgiving to all of my US readers!

It's been two weeks since arriving to Bangkok, meandering through different neighborhoods, attempting to eat at all of my Google maps' stars, awaiting our visa for entrance into Myanmar and now cruising the streets of laid back Chiang Mai, Thailand. Already it's been an amazing trip; a sensory overload and juxtaposition of chaos, tranquility, heat, air condition, smiles and the unfortunate presence of transportation scams. But like any other day, putting it into perspective there is much to be grateful for.

1. People Watching 

Antonio snagged this super National Geographic shot as we rode at 60km/hr in a boat taxi along the  Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. There's something special about watching people take in scenery for the first time (as tourists) or others pondering their daily surroundings, stopping to take a moment and look at something again (locals).

Water taxis on the Chao Phraya River

2. Pinching Yourself 

The picture I'd seen a thousand times before, the image I had of Thailand existed before we landed, but I have to keep pinching myself that this trip is real, that I'm face to face with these sacred sculptures so prevalent around the city. I'm grateful to be here and lucky to have the opportunity.

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

3. Authenticity

Thai food isn't a new revelation to me, although now finally in Thailand it's clear I'm quite a novice and that there is an encyclopedia of menu items that I still must get through. I was introduced on a more professional culinary level to the southern dishes prepared by Jitlada (known by many to be the best Thai restaurant in Los Angeles) and northern Thai specialties at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. However, since landing in Bangkok it's been an absolute dream come true to taste the spicy, tangy, acidic and sweet flavors of Thai food straight from the homeland.

Somtam salad at Thanying, Bangkok. 

4. Teamwork

We treated ourselves (budget traveler treating) to a nice meal at Din Tai Fung. I marveled at the handicraft of their employees; all 18 trained kitchen chefs and assistants pumping out dumplings like madmen/women, working efficiently and maintaining focus. Nobody dropped the ball.

A chef at Din Tai Fung Bangkok prepares the dough for dumplings. 

5. Life 

Although Bangkok boosts the climate of a tropical rain forest, it is after all a city of 8.2 million residents, that reaches an estimated 12mm with tourists and undocumented foreign workers. The amount of people, tuk-tuks, pollution, jumbo shopping centers, concrete and non-stop life that surround this metropolis can be overwhelming. When you think it's gotten to be too much...a flower fighting it's way from a shallow water bath makes its way to be seen, to be recognized and to deliver a slice of peace to your day.

On this Thanksgiving Day, what are you grateful for? 


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