The first time I heard about Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, located a couple of hours outside of Sri Lanka’s largest city, Colombo, was when I was in Sri Lanka in 2009. As somebody who loves elephants, I asked around whether or not I should go visit. I mean, you hear the word “elephant orphanage” and it seems like it should be legitimate, right?
After reading dozens of reviews and articles about the subject, in a word: NO.
I met Ai almost exactly one year after I’d moved to Japan. I’m getting ahead of myself, though – I need to go back to the beginning.
In my early 20s, I was addicted to travelling; I had perpetually itchy feet. Travelling had me in its grasp, my wanderlust an uncontrolled entity. And like most addictions, I needed more money to sustain it. At twenty-four years old and jobless, my savings fast running out, I needed to start making money to support my habit. It only made sense that I’d look for a job in a different country; it seemed, in my mind, to be killing two birds with one stone. Soon I was looking up international jobs, researching visas, investigating how much I’d need for the plane ticket. I then did what seemingly every other twenty-something English-speaker with a university degree but no idea how to use it does: I decided to teach English abroad. It was relatively easy to find a job online, and after an interview and a grammar test, it was confirmed. I was going to be a teacher in Japan.
I stepped into the dark corridor of Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Museum, the skylight above providing a sliver of sunlight. It’s difficult to describe what it’s like to be here; it’s overwhelming and emotional, but it holds such great significance. In my opinion, it’s worth a trip to Israel just to experience it.
Found on the western slope of Mount Herzl of Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is Israel’s second most-visited tourist site (the Wailing Wall is the first). The memorial, sprawling over many acres of land, includes the Holocaust History Museum, the Hall of Remembrance, the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, the Museum of Holocaust Art, the Children’s Memorial, and many other buildings. As the memorial seeks to educate, document, and commemorate the Holocaust – the genocide that claimed over six million Jewish lives during WWII, killing two thirds of the European Jewish population – it also houses a synagogue, publishing house, research institute, library, and education centre.
While the internet is saturated with these “what to wear” posts, I always enjoy putting them together, and I like having go-to resources for people who write to me about certain topics. I get a lot of emails about what to wear in countries I’ve been to, and I’m slowly but surely trying to get them all done. I may as well keep going with what to wear in Thailand.
First of all, Thailand is hot. Really hot. Depending on where you go and when, you’ll most likely experience very warm weather and possibly some intense humidity and rain. It’s always important to dress comfortably while still being culturally appropriate. Here, then, is what I recommend to wear in Thailand.
You know that saying, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”? That’s how I feel most of the time. It seems like almost every day I read about a place or an event I’d like to visit. There are a few things that have remained steadfast on my travel wish list for years, though: a safari in Tanzania, scuba diving in the Maldives, a road trip though the southern states of America, a cultural trip through Bhutan, and, on the list for the past few years, seeing Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
And this past November, I was finally in Thailand at the right time to see the festival. Here, then, are my tips on the best way to celebrate Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai… complete with lots of photos!
A country that long topped my “dream list” of travel destinations, Bhutan is also a country that I didn’t know very much about. Despite a few websites and a guidebook in my arsenal, Bhutan seemed draped with mystery even the day before my arrival, when I’d fly over the Himalayas and land in its tiny Paro airport. Because I was visiting in December, I worried that the country would be freezing cold, and I didn’t want that to hinder my enjoyment or appreciation of the adventure. When turning to the internet for advice, however, I didn’t find much by way of packing tips – “Bring a jacket” one website told me. Another said to “dress appropriately for the weather.” Gee, thanks. How helpful.
So, without further ado, here’s what to wear in Bhutan, from personal experience.