“S

awasdee Kha!” our guide greeted us as we made our way out of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. Being Isha Home School’s first trip abroad, we were anticipating a week of true adventure.

After breakfast, we went for a short tour at the gem factory in Pattaya. Considered to be the world’s biggest jewelry store, the gem factory offered a train ride into a place created to show people how gems are formed and mined. They then took us on a tour of gem cutting and polishing, and finally, to the gem store itself, which seemed to offer every kind of gem and jewelry imaginable.

We settled into the Citin Garden Resort, our place of stay in Pattaya, before heading out to Nong Nooch Village.

Nong Nooch Village is famous for its elephant and Thai cultural shows, as well as its carefully manicured gardens – considered to be one of the “biggest and most beautiful botanical gardens in Southeast Asia.” The manicured garden is filled with trees in various shapes of animals, and they also allowed us to take photos with the tigers here. The elephant show proved to be quite interesting – one of the tricks actually included the elephants painting pictures by holding a paintbrush in their trunk!

After the elephant show, we spent a day on Coral Island, parasailing and enjoying unique water sports.

With heavy oxygen-filled helmets underwater, guides took us around the coral at the bottom of the ocean. We also fed bread to the fish who came in hundreds at a time to take it from us.

Visiting Safari World and Marine Park was a humid, day-long affair, where we saw a Sea Lion Show, Orangutan Show, Dolphin Show… and even a “Cowboy Show.” We also went on a jungle safari, where we saw animals like giraffes, rhinos, lions, tigers, impalas, deers, and many more.

The next stop was the renowned Damnoen Saduak floating market. We took boats through the canals to different stalls.

Our first impression of Bangkok was that it was a quickly developing, organized, modern city with an impressive sky train, host of malls, eateries, and street faire.

In a popular mall called “MBK Center,” we had an opportunity to watch a live Thai fight which happens once a week. We also travelled in a sky train to see the cityscape.

In Bangkok we stayed in Ecotel, a popular choice for Indian travelers because it is close to Indra Market and several Indian restaurants – in case we felt the need for a meal closer to home, but most of the students quite enjoyed trying Thai cuisine like Padthai, sticky rice with mango, Durian and dragon fruits, and purple and green corn.

Night markets were an added attraction for the children to shop and by now, we could remember a few basic phrases taught to us by our guide. Shopping on the street and bargaining with highly temperamental vendors was a “unique” experience. However, armed with a few new words and some experience from home, we managed to get our bahts (Thai currency) worth of souvenirs and gifts for family and friends.

The highlight of the trip was the majestic Grand Palace, in the heart of Bangkok, which is still used by the King and his family. On the grounds of the Grand Palace is the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha (known to Thai people as Wat Phra Kaew), considered to be the most sacred structure in the kingdom.

We ended our journey by attending a spectacular performance with music and dance called Siam Nirmat, which is supposed to be one of the largest stage performances in the world. It showcased a brief history and the diversity of Thailand’s cultural heritage. It has actually received a Guinness World Record for having the tallest arch in stage history.

All in all… we had a great time.

– Teacher of Isha Home School