red line
   Back to Archives
   Back to IF Home

Travel Journal

Travel Journal

Volume I, Entry 8

Jessica Long, age 22
Australia and Thailand
black line

Only nine days left of mine and Mike's ten-month long Austral-Asia journey. When we arrived in Melbourne, after close to nine months in New Zealand, everything seemed massive. The buildings were taller, the streets were wider, and the footpaths were busier. It took a couple days to adjust to the action-paced style of a quick metropolis, but once we did, it was almost refreshing. Being in such a big city, we had constant entertainment and activities. Our days were jam packed with museums, shows, sporting events, and so on.

We spent one week in Melbourne before taking the overnight train to Sydney. Many interesting people choose to travel at night; despite the late hours, there were few dull moments. Sydney was amazing. Again its enormity was overwhelming and impressive. The city layout was extremely accommodating, allowing us to easily explore the city attractions, as well as the outer beaches and small towns.

We advanced our tickets to Thailand forward by six days, so after one short week in Sydney, we headed north for Bangkok. Talk about culture shock; we left the airport in a taxi, which around 6pm dropped us off at the end of our hectic hotel road. Mike and I just stood at the end of the street with our packs on, looking at each other, both thinking "what have we gotten ourselves into?" We thought Melbourne was fast compared to NZ, well that was just a warm up for the speedway we were now immersed in. The initial reactions of total insanity, rushing pedestrians, haggling street vendors, and bright-lighted mayhem will never be forgotten. Since that first night, we have adjusted.

In Bangkok, we were busy visiting temples, riding in tuk-tuks, gorging ourselves in food and inexpensive merchandise, and experiencing a thin layer of Thai culture and tradition. Yesterday we moved on from the city to a remote beach resort on Koh Samui. It was disappointing to leave Bangkok so soon, as it was in Melbourne and Sydney; we left without knowing it intimately as we did Auckland. But assuredly, we will be back.

The greatest knowledge I've gained during my small stint in Bangkok, is that a smile goes a long way. If you look at anyone long enough, even the aggressive sale vendor that approaches your dinner table with souvenirs for sale, eventually they will smile back a sincere and friendly smile. With language barriers and cultural gaps, this simple gesture helps me connect.

white divider