Like most annoying 20-somethings who like to travel, I am very stubborn about doing things myself (I suppose we have this in common with toddlers in the terrible twos). I really try to avoid tour groups as I find them expensive, stifling and less “authentic.” But further reflection exposes the latter complaint to be a bit ridiculous. I am not, nor will I ever be, an actual Thai native and thus my pursuit of non-touristy things seems disingenuous. I am, after all a tourist. So for my next day I decided to strap on my metaphorical fanny pack and embrace my inner tourist.
So the next morning I found myself 3 hours outside Bangkok for a dizzying itinerary that included a WW2 graveyard, a historic WW2 bridge, a 1.5hr train ride through the country and mountainside, lunch on the river, a 15 min of bamboo rafting, an elephant ride and a trip to a waterfall. Throughout this experience I switched between vans three times and had about 4 different tour guides. I had no idea what was going on and I loved it. Along the way I got to pet a leopard, lost one of my three pairs of shoes and, as the only American, got to practice my français and the 3 phrases I know in Chinese (which are “hello” “I love you” and “I miss you,”- a consequence of having a high school boyfriend who spent some time in Beijing. It makes me a very devoted sounding conversational partner).