I wrote about my transformative trip to Thailand in “A Vacation With a Purpose: Fighting Trafficking in Thailand” in last week’s New York Times Travel Section. Many of you asked to see more images from the trip which inspired me to create this photo album. Since in the article I discuss in detail the organizations we met with and all that we learned about the problem of human trafficking, here I will only cover the sights that we visited.
We began the ten-day journey with a sightseeing tour of Bangkok, where visited the dazzling complex of the Grand Palace and the royal temple, Wat Phra Kaeo, which houses the kingdom’s most sacred image—the Emerald Buddha.
Our next stop was Wat Pho, Bangkok’s oldest and largest temple, home of the country’s longest Reclining Buddha.
To escape the busloads of tourists, our guide took us to his favorite temple, Wat Ratchabophit, tucked away on Atsadang Road, a few blocks from the Grand Palace. Birds sang in the bushes as we walked through the gates of the small complex. Dogs lay curled asleep on the marble floors. As the only visitors, we stopped freely to take photos and admire the intricate craftsmanship of the hand-made glazed tiles, golden cornices and the gilded chedi in the middle of the circular courtyard.
For an authentic experience of Bangkok’s floating markets, our guide took us to Talad Name Klong Lad Mayom. Unlike the sham that Damnoen Saduak market has become, with merchants dressing up for tourists and re-enacting scenes from an idealized past, this market was real and functioned only on weekends. It couldn’t compete with the multitude of boats and color of Damnoen Saduak, but, once again, we seemed to be the only tourists.
We boarded a long boat and the skillful oarsman in the back pushed us away from the market with a broad smile. In the quiet, sleepy afternoon, we glided past small houses, each with its own shrine and flower garden and a couple of dogs sleeping by a wooden pier. Palm trees leaned over the murky water, their reflections ruffled by the nose of our boat.
After three days of meetings and sightseeing in Bangkok, we were thrilled to leave the hustle and bustle of the city for the lush northern provinces. On our first day in Chiang Rai, we stopped by a tea plantation and explored the ornate Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple) by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.
As those of you who have already read my article in the New York Times know, our visit to the Akha village was the highlight of the trip for me.
In the last few days of our journey, we explored the “Rose of the North,” as Chiang Mai is known. We strolled the streets in the old town and visited its temples, made a trip to an elephant hospital and enjoyed the local food, stopping for lunch at an organic farm. We also went to the temple on the mountain overlooking the city, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
You can find more information about the trip in my article, “A Vacation With a Purpose: Fighting Trafficking in Thailand” in the New York Times Travel Section.