During the last semester of my Master’s program in International Commerce & Policy at George Mason University, I had the opportunity to attend a second study-abroad program on “Trade and Development.” My first had been to Mexico in May of 2007. The study abroad would take us to Singapore and Thailand for my first ever trip to Asia. I wasn’t that interested in Asia at that time, but I wanted to take every opportunity to travel, so I signed up for the course. Little did I know that this experience would lead to me working in and traveling through much of Asia in the coming years.
I didn’t know much about Singapore other than its reputation for being squeaky clean and proper. I knew about Thailand from my husband’s stories of growing up in Bangkok while his father was stationed in the army there from 1958-1960. I had also seen the excellent movie, Brokedown Palace, starring Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Pullman and Lim Kay Tong. It deals with two American friends imprisoned in Thailand for alleged drug smuggling. I have always been a fan of Claire Danes, and have become more of one since her starring role in the T.V. series Homeland. Many years ago, I’d also seen the 1956 film of The King and I, which I didn’t much remember in 2008. The musical’s plot related the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna was marked by conflict through much of the piece, as well as by a love to which neither could admit.
“THE CALL TO PLACE” INVITATION: I invite you to write a post on your own blog about what enticed you to choose a particular destination. If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments. If your destination is a place you love and keep returning to, feel free to write about that. If you want to see the original post about the subject, you can check it out here: imaginings: the call to place.
Include the link in the comments below by Wednesday, January 22 at 1:00 p.m. EST. My next “call to place” post is scheduled to post on Thursday, January 23.
If you’d like, you can use the hashtag #wanderessence.
This will be an ongoing invitation, on the fourth Thursday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂
I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!
Funnily enough Thailand was the first place I ever wanted to go when I started to think about abroad. Never did get there! 🤩💕
It’s always fun to dream, Jo. It’s hitting me hard now that the years are running out and some places I will never get to. But I can always daydream! 🙂 By the way, I wasn’t all that keen on either Bangkok or Phuket. Way too crowded for me!
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I’ve been to Singapore a couple of times, on both occasions accompanying John who was at a conference. I loved just wandering around by myself as it was quite compact (The Central part, anyway). We’ve also spent 2 or 3 nights in Bangkok on the way somewhere else, but I found it too big and busy to enjoy properly. I don’t think that qualifies me to have an opinion on Thailand! We had a run of SE Asian holidays in the early 2000s, well pre-blog.
Singapore is definitely compact enough to wander around on your own, Anabel. I didn’t care much for Bangkok or Singapore; I was in a study abroad with a group of students much younger than me, and much of our time was taken with lectures. My whole Master’s program was like that, but I remember feeling particularly old on this trip! I don’t know if I’ll make it back to SE Asia again, but I guess you never know. I’m glad you had your run in the early 2000s. 🙂
Yes, I’m not sure I’d choose to go back. My travelling at the moment is constrained by my mum’s needs (constraining is maybe not the right word, I’m not complaining at all) but also I feel more picky about where I want to go politically and about flying in times of climate crisis. Ten years ago I would have predicted I’d be happily jetting the world by now!
I know all of your concerns, Anabel. Especially the political stuff. I feel that way about traveling in my own country, but I am determined not to let people get to me. There does seem to be a time and season for everything.
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Singapore is one of our favourite international destinations and a regular stopover on our journeys to Europe. It’s so clean and fresh, easy to get around and plenty to see and do.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It is probably the least favorite of all my travel destinations. 🙂
Thailand was our first ever long haul trip (1972/3 – the year of the last big, and nasty, coup) and I fell in love immediately with the country. I didn’t come to grips with BKK on that trip but I did on subsequent trips and learned to, if not love, understand the city and its inhabitants. We met some lovely Thai people with whom we became great friends and over the years, through them, our circle of Thai friends has increased. They have helped me understand the people, their Buddhism and the animism which lives alongside Buddhism and gives another clue to them. Even the most educated believe in the spirits of the land, the forest and the air, not to mention the good and bad ones! Most years I have some to stay and I love their chanting at night before they go to sleep – it echoes through the house and brings a sense of peace.
I’m so glad you fell in love with Thailand in the 70s and over the years, Mari. I think I might have fallen in love with it more readily if I hadn’t had so many lectures to attend! And how lovely to have made so many Thai friends who you’ve kept in touch with. I met a wonderful Thai guy on my trip to Morocco this year. He is so mellow! Interesting about the Buddhism/animism influences. I can imagine the chanting must be very relaxing.
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