My Thailand story
My relationship with Thailand started in 2008. I had been working on a TV show in America and our filming schedule meant that we had summers off. During that three months I had decided to volunteer somewhere in the world.
I walked into my local bookstore to start to explore global opportunities and there on the bookshelf boldly staring at me was a book called International Volunteering.
I couldn’t believe it!
What are the odds that the exact book I would need would be staring me down in plane site amongst the other thousands of books, but then again, if you knew me you would know that that’s just how my life is. Opportunities present themselves at the most opportune times. A long story short, that book sent me on my way to volunteering with a charity in Isan Thailand for two months. I had never been here, I didn’t speak the language, I wasn’t sure what they ate, but I took the leap into the unknown and had no regrets.
I quickly learned upon arriving in Bangkok and continuing on into Isan, to include, Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai, that Thailand has everything you want, and more!
Over the Next 6 Years my Relationship Continued to Grow With Thailand
After two months of volunteering I decided to come back in 2011 to take the teaching certification course I needed to begin an international teaching career. I had also kept in touch with my host from volunteering and in 2013 I proudly brought back 30,000 Baht in scholarships to donate to 4 schools in Isan through my charity, Volunteaching, that I had started after my own experience there.
Currently, I teach at an international university and am graciously allowed the honor to continue experiencing the good side of Thailand.
During my past times visiting Thailand I got to meet and go out with many locals. I personally think this is the key to unlocking the true spirit of any country.
Because of locals, I have experienced many things in Thailand that many foreigners will never get to.
As I said before, Thailand has everything you want, and more, with far less rules than many of our home countries. The one underlying rule of Thailand is that although fewer rules may be enforced, respect to the land and its people should always be followed.
I Like to Think of Thailand as Generally Being Three Parts.
Now, I know this is a large generalizations but it will help simplify what I mean by Thailand having everything you want, and more.
The Mountainous North
In my journeys to the north I came to realize that this is an amazing place to find caves, rivers, farms, and just beautiful wide-open spaces filled with green grass as far as the eyes can see.
There are incredible mountains you can explore as well as spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon at many of the numerous lakes and dams sprinkled throughout the countryside.
The people of Isan and the northwest of Thailand area a true testament to the statement that often the people with the least are willing to give more.
During parent teacher meetings where we went to the villages of the students, the families were more than honored to ask us to sit and eat with them. This meant chicken out of a communal bowl, sticky rice out of a whicker cup that did little to keep out any ants from enjoying the rice as well, and a water spout to wash up after. There were no plates, utensils, or tissues, but there was plenty of happiness and smiles. If this is of interest to you then check out www.whoisdustin.com and click on the charity link.
Bustling Central Thailand
The second part of Thailand is the middle area.
This is the city we all lovingly know as Bangkok.
It’s a place of wild contrasts.
A place where you can save money and live a moderately nice lifestyle on a much lower budget than many cities in the world of comparable size, or you can get scammed and drained of your last Baht if you aren’t wise to the ways of the land.
Again, knowing locals in any situation in any country will help you avoid most of the pitfalls that may come your way.
Bangkok has everything you could possible want within an hour or two at most. You can enjoy high-class life in many upscale areas all the way down to the seedy nightlife of those familiar districts within the city.
In my experiences, treating everyone as an equal regardless of their job or status in life has lead to some amazing experiences as well.
Within an hour or two you can be on a rooftop bar, a beach, in an art gallery, at an outdoor lounge, or listening to a live band or the hottest DJ.
Bangkok is also a bustling hub of business.
Having been a global traveler and taking photos all along the way, I have now met a gentleman to work with to get my photography showcased for the general public to see. There are many “businessmen” willing to live out their dreams on your dollar, but if you can get through the smokescreens and find good willed people then you can pursue most dreams of your own in this gem of a city.
Crystal Green Waters of the South
The last and third part of Thailand is the postcard side of Thailand.
This part is the crystal green waters of the south.
There are many islands to visit that will leave you in awe.
I have been surprised at the ease of transportation to get to any part of the country, and the southern part is no exception.
Half the fun of exploring Thailand is taking the taxis, vans, boats, and trains to get to where you are going.
The south provides incredible views from sea to shining sea. You may be lucky enough to meet a local that will provide you with company on your journey without draining your wallet, too.
Always remember that although Thailand has a hefty reputation of finding love at a wide range of costs, there are many more locals that want companionship just as much as you, and it’s not always about money.
I have found that if you treat every person here with dignity and respect then you will be rewarded with an amazing experience that will last you a lifetime.
If you come and act a fool then you may get a lesson in manners that will also last you a lifetime.