January 6th-7th: War Tunnels & Food Tour

Day two in Ho Chi Minh City started bright and early as the group headed to the Cu Chi Tunnels, about two hours west of the city center. This destination was the base of the Cu Chi District Party Committee during the resistance to the U.S. military. This was also the place for dining, living, meeting, as well as a battle deployment.

To begin the tour, we watched a brief documentary and took a look at the map of the site (see picture below). We were shocked to find out that the Vietnamese refer to the war as the American War rather than the Vietnam War. We proceeded to explore the different “covers,” small spaces where refuge’s hid, traps set up by the Vietnamese, and crawl through a 60 meter underground tunnel. We also had the opportunity to shoot similar weapons that were used in the war such as AK47s and M16s. Hearing this side of the story from the Vietnamese perspective was very eye opening and gave us all a great picture of what life was like for these people. The tunnels, covers, and traps were all very well preserved and made the scene come to life. It was really interesting to learn about the military tactics and mental strategies used by the Vietnamese against U.S. forces. After a rewarding lunch at a beautiful authentic Vietnamese restaurant not too far from the tunnels, the group made there way back into the city before dusk.


The following day was the group’s first free day in Saigon, Vietnam. Many took the opportunity to rest up and recuperate in anticipation for a foodie tour taking place in the evening. Prior to the foodie tour, students explored around the city, took advantage of the amazing prices at the markets, and relaxed.


At 5:30pm, we all gathered at the hotel once again and were paired with a Xe Om (XO) motorbike driver who would proceed to guide us throughout Saigon’s districts to five exciting locations. Xe Om is a special motorbike company because it is the first all female motorbike tour company in Vietnam with drivers who are fluent English speakers. My driver explained how special this is considering the lack of equality between men in women in the country. Given the seemingly lawless driving style in Vietnam and the fact that this was many of our first times on the back of a motorbike, it was a little nerve racking at first however after a little while I was able to loosen up and relax. During the foodie tour, we tried a lot of traditional Vietnamese meals including soups, goat, beef, shrimp, frog, scallops, and clams, and after a bit of hesitation, a baby egg embryo. Being a fairly picky eater, I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty everything was! Even the baby egg embryo was good after getting over the fact that you could see the shape of the baby chicken. The foodie tour certainly exceeded our expectations and we couldn’t recommend it more to anyone looking for an authentic Vietnamese experience.


By elonfinance

Looking Back at ‘Business in the Pacific Rim’…

Safely back in the comforts of home and the familiarity of America, we wanted to take time to reflect before Spring Semester picks back up at Elon. We’ve all learned a lot this January, and while it will be great to be home at Elon, there are many memories we will never forget.

For many of us, it was our first time in Asia, first time out of the country, and first time studying abroad. Even for those who had traveled or studied abroad before, it was certainly a challenging and exciting experience. We all feel so fortunate for the opportunity we’ve had to learn about Singapore, Bangkok, Macau, and Hong Kong.

Before the sixteen hour flight, many of us may have viewed Asia as an unfamiliar continent, and were unable to differentiate between the unknown of the three cities. Now, we have l learned so much about the unique cultures of each. Additionally, we have been able to learn about business development and the economic challenges each cope with.

One of the most striking things about Hong Kong was how modern the city felt. Coming from the US, the buildings felt almost futuristic. Parts of major cities like New York and Chicago feel as modern, but overall Hong Kong was well kept and modern throughout. Skyscrapers defined the city, which was showcased in the city’s light show many of us saw on the first night.

Light Show in Hong Kong

Light Show in Hong Kong

Since Beijing’s pollution problems have been in the news so much recently, many of us expected Hong Kong to be like Mainland China. But while the air pollution was prominent, it exceeded our expectations. Additionally, the water surrounding the city was a brilliant blue and the hillsides of the suburbs were very green for a large city. The group really enjoyed exploring the waterfront, Lan Kwai Fong, and SOHO (South of Hollywood Road).

Cityview of Hong Kong

Cityview of Hong Kong

Lan Kwai Fong

Lan Kwai Fong

Hong Kong was also economically thriving; our tour guide Katie emphasized how important striving for affluence was for many young people. Between our business visits to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Fung Group, we gained a perspective on how important employment and maintaining economic success is for the city. This economic success flows into Macau (along with the rest of China), which has gambling revenue estimated as six times of Las Vegas. The group enjoyed our overnight trip to experience the mix of Chinese and Portuguese (Macanese) culture the city had to offer.

Macau Tower and Casinos

Macau Tower and Casinos

Thailand was distinctly different from both Singapore and Hong Kong in that it is a developing economy. Our visit to Begemann Mercury Technology showed that entrepreneurial opportunities are abundant as the country changes and grows. Despite the successes, Thailand is experiencing growing pains. We learned at the World Bank that there are still many in the public and private sector still reliant on below market interest rate loans to develop. However, relative to the rest of the developing Southeast Asian region, Thailand and the city of Bangkok are thriving.

Grand Palace Tour, Bangkok

Grand Palace Tour, Bangkok

Tourism is a significant part of the Thai way of life and culture was more distinct. The people in Bangkok and the region were so genuinely friendly. Much of the city caters to tourists even though it was much more sprawling and disorganized. Poverty was also much more prevalent in Bangkok than in Hong Kong, and was virtually invisible in Singapore. There was also a reverence among the people for the Thai Royal Family. There were pictures, monuments and shrines throughout the city, which added to the strong sense of culture. We all really enjoyed the culture in Patpong market, Khao San Road, and Royal City Avenue districts.

Temple of Dawn, Bangkok

Temple of Dawn, Bangkok

Bangkok at Night

Singapore also catered to tourism in many ways. Unlike the temples and monuments of Thailand, Singapore’s waterfront park and quays had many fresh and contemporary amenities. Our group enjoyed exploring the Clarke Quay area, the Marina Bay, and Singapore Night Safari.

Marina Bay Waterfront, Singapore

Marina Bay Waterfront, Singapore

"Creatures of the Night", Zoo Safari Singapore

“Creatures of the Night”, Zoo Safari Singapore

The cleanliness was almost utopian, and like Hong Kong, the city was defined in many ways as a port and one of the financial capitals of Asia. Visiting with Credit Suisse helped explain how Singapore has become a hub for many banks, thanks to its skilled labor and political security. While at ThermoFischer, we had the opportunity to learn from two government consultants, who shared their perspective as natives. Singapore, like all of the economies of Southeast Asia, are undergoing a shift from manufacturing to a service-based economy. Singpaore is well ahead of the curve and is thriving relative to many of its peers.

Singapore by Night Boat Tour

Singapore by Night Boat Tour

After twenty-two unforgettable days, (cliché, we know), we have had the opportunity to see, taste, learn, and experience things that are once in a lifetime. We have absorbed so much in such a short period of time and have been changed for the better. We are all looking forward to our final group meeting in February to celebrate all of the great experiences we’ve had!

By Lizzy Larson and Paige Foley

By elonfinance Tagged

Final Day and Travel back to the US- January 22 to 25th

Tuesday morning we woke up and headed to our last business visit of the trip. When we arrived at ThermoFischer Scientific, we were able to hear Steve Fletcher the Vice President and General Manager speak.  He told us all about TermoFischer and the water analysis instruments that they produce.  We also heard from CM Lee who spoke to us about how ThermoFischer is trying to connect to the Asian markets and bring sales up in the Asia Pacific.  After hearing from the speakers, we were able to split into groups and tour the facilities where their products are produced.
Tour of Fisher Facilities
Elon students touring the ThermoFischer production line.
We were also able to view demonstrations of how the pH testers that ThermoFischer makes are used.  The speakers let the students get in on the action and try out the pH testers.
A quick demonstration of the pH testers.
demonstration cleaning
Lizzy trying out the pH tester. 
After our final business visit was over, the group had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy Singapore.  Some people went off in search of some Singapore markets, while others were able to relax at the hotel pool.  Later that evening we reconvened for our final group dinner.  After a beautiful walk along the river we stopped at an Australian restaurant named Boomerang. With our business visits over and the trip coming to an end, we were able to relax and enjoy our last night together as a group.
Wednesday morning we were able to sleep in a little, but we had to be packed up and ready to go by 2 PM.  After saying goodbye to the Holiday Inn Atrium, we loaded onto the bus and headed to the Singapore airport. After getting through customs we settled in for a quick flight over to the familiar Hong Kong. Flight to Hong Kong
 Making our way back to Hong Kong Airport. Elon takes over the plane.
After a short 3 hour layover, we hopped on the 11 hour flight to Vancouver.Now in Vancouver, we are off to New York City! Can’t wait to be back in the good old USA!!!  These past three weeks have been an amazing journey, and we could not have asked for a better group of students and professors to share the experience with! Love you guys!

By Paige Foley and Lizzy Larson

By elonfinance

Phillips 66, Credit Suisse, and Night Safari – January 21st

After two rained soaked free days, we were reminded that this wasn’t just a school sponsored vacation with our second to last round of business visits. We began the day at Phillips 66 (a holding company of ConocoPhillips), a downstream energy company that is headquartered in Houston Texas. You have likely passed by their iconic logo many times while driving. The presentation began with a short movie about the company’s history dating back to the early 20th century. Next, Thaddeus Low and Octavio Santa Gadea gave a quick overview of the petroleum industry. The major takeaway from these presentations was that most of the consumption growth in the ensuing decades will come from Asia and Africa while the production growth will come from North America. The predicted consumption growth is a result of the burgeoning middle class in the emerging markets as they begin to purchase cars and other vehicles that require oil. Most of the predicted production growth is from Hydraulic Fracking which allows for the development of shale oil gas fields.


The lobby at ConocoPhillips.

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A panoramic view from our visist at ConocoPhillips.

Following a brief lunch, we were off to our second visit of the day at Credit Suisse. Here we were hosted by John Lentini, director of fixed income middle office of Asia in their operations department. His presentation centered on Credit Suisse’s business in Asia and the vast opportunities that are available by working abroad in a multi-national company. One of the major takeaways of his presentation was how the increase in regulation after the 2008 financial crisis is going to affect the worldwide banking industry going forward. He was confident in Credit Suisse’s ability to remain profitable going forward but was concerned that the new regulations would harm the profitability of banking in the United States. He predicted the new regulations, specifically Dodd-Frank, would result in the outsourcing of US banking jobs to countries with less stringent regulations.

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The trading floor at Credit Suisse.

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Walking through Credit Suisse’s Smart Work pilot

 After a quick rest following our busy day of business visits the group departed for Singapore’s famous Night Safari. While we waited for it to get dark we grabbed dinner, saw the fire breathing show and the Creatures of the Night show. The fire breathing show was made all the more entertaining when Todd was picked from the crowd to participate. At this point it was dark and we boarded a tram that took us throughout the safari for forty five minutes of action packed exhibits of sleeping animals which were supposed to be nocturnal. After a long day of business visits and animal sitings the group was ready to head back to the hotel and get some rest for our final day of business visits.


Paige at the entrance of the night safari.


Mike getting his feet tickled at the fish pedicure.


Todd volunteering at the fire breathing show.


An elephant at the Night Safari.

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By John Newman and Matt Feldman

By elonfinance

Singapore Free Days (1/19-1/20)

Hey Readers! Conor and Ted here. After a busy Friday night we decided to go to bed nice and early so that we could wake up for our 7AM jog down the riverfront to start off our two free days in Singapore. After our great exercise we stopped for a quick breakfast at a cultural restaurant named Merry Men before heading back to the iconic Holiday Inn hotel.


In more exciting news some members of the group used this morning to travel to nearby Indonesia, where they enjoyed sun sports and warm beaches over the weekend. Another small group of students chose to rent hotel rooms at the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel, pictured above.


While we chose to remain in Singapore we didn’t waste one minute of our free time. After waking up our friends Sam and Madison we walked to a nearby mall and conversed with locals about current trends and their view on the re-election of President Obama. He was not very popular.


Continuing to immerse ourselves in the fine culture of Singapore the four of us dined at McDonalds for lunch with other members of the group. We decided that we would head to Sentosa beach for the night for a foam pool party with a live local DJ. We had a great time mingling with locals and made a lot of new friends throughout the night but still went to bed at a responsible and reasonable hour as to not sleep in too late on Sunday.



While the rest of the group was still in Indonesia on our second free day those remaining in Singapore split up to conquer the city. Some students decided to catch an afternoon movie at a local theatre while others explored the high end shopping on Orchard Road downtown. Paige and Matt got a small group together to visit Sentosa Island, making the best of the rainy weather and visited the southern most point in continental Asia. Sam, Ted and I chose to visit the Singapore Zoo, which featured many species of animals including the photographed white tigers and manatees above.


Sunday evening several small groups split up for dinner, except for a select few who returned from Indonesia because they were unfortunately not feeling well. (Don’t worry parents, they are OK!) After dinners in Clark Quay, Robinson Quay, and a few room service orders the group started to prepare for the academically stimulating business visits scheduled for tomorrow morning.

By elonfinance

Elon travels to Singapore

Don’t worry blog readers, we made it to Singapore safely. We had a wonderful day of traveling from Bangkok to Singapore. Just a quick two and a half hour flight, and before we knew it, we were in Singapore. Most of the group had tickets to the Sweedish House Mafia concert the night we arrived. They barely made it as some people didn’t even have time to check into their rooms. As for the few people that did not have tickets to the concert, it was a relaxing evening.

We had some time to sleep in, as our city tour did not start until 10 am Friday. Singapore isn’t that big of a city, so we didn’t have as much ground to cover as Bangkok and Singapore. Our first stop was China Town. Singapore’s residents are made up of mostly Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian culture. There were a lot of markets in, China Town, where you could get  souvenirs for cheap prices. There was also the only Chinese Buddhist Temple in Singapore. There were hundreds of Buddha’s that belonged to different families. It was a very beautiful temple.

After China Town we visited the Singapore mosque. They didn’t let us inside but it was still interesting to be there. We walked around the nearby streets and did some shopping. We were only there for a short amount of time and then it was on to the Merlion statue. The Merlion is made up of a lion head and a body of a fish. The lion head represents Singapore’s original name “Singapura” which means lion city. And the fish body represents the origins of Singapore as a fishing village. After the Merlion it was off to lunch in Little India. We ate at this place called the Banana Leaf. It was very spicy food but pretty good. They came out with these huge leaves and we then realized that the leaves were our plates. After lunch we had a few hours before we met again for the night city tour.

We met up for the night city tour in the lobby. We had a tour bus with seats on the top. The view of the city at night was amazing. We went to the Singapore Flyer, which is a huge Ferris Wheel overlooking the city. There was a food court there as well and that is where the group ate dinner. From there we went to a place where we rode a boat around the city and got the best views. We could see every part of the city, it was amazing.

Here are a few photos from our first tour of Singapore:

By Maddison O’Connor and Sam Ferro







By elonfinance

Elon in Pattaya City

January 16 – After a long day of business visits, the group was searching to find a way to keep with the “work hard, play hard” mentality. After breakfast, which many chose to sleep through, the gang boarded the bus to Pattaya City. On the way there, our guides Angie and Lucky enlightened us on the history and culture of an area much different from Bangkok. Our bus ride proved interesting to say the least, as a few members of our party in the back of the bus were flashed by what appeared to be both a man and a woman! In Bangkok, these members of society are known as, “Ladyboys.” Upon arrival, the group split into two and walked down the pier to our private speedboats. While this may sound like the intro to the new Bond movie, trust us when we tell you they were quite bumpy and not so sexy.
When we got to the beach, our guides gave us a few minutes to walk around before meeting for lunch, which consisted of various Thai dishes and fresh seafood. In Pattaya city, it’s important to check the pulse of your meal!

pinch, pinch, pinch

pinch, pinch, pinch

After lunch, the pack headed to our post on the beach. While some chose to catch some rays on beach chairs, many headed into the water while we enjoyed a few drinks served in a gutted pineapple. When we reached the pruning stage, we headed for the cliffs, which provided a picturesque view of the bay and some sore feet. A few were feeling more adventurous and decided to rent waverunners, Professor Gupta included. As the day came to a close and the group was boarding the vessels, we noticed our fearless guide Angie struggling in the waters of Pattaya. After some assistance, we were safely on the boats and headed towards Bangkok.

– Alex and James

By elonfinance

It was an early wake up for the group as we prepared for one of the busiest days of the trip. We departed at 8am for the first of three business visits of the day. The first visit was to Begemann Mercury Technology (BMT), located about an hour and a half east of Bangkok in Samut Prakarn. BMT is a mercury (Hg) treatment and recovery center that processes between 1700 and 1900 tons of different forms of mercury waste annually. The waste is either incinerated using a few different techniques, while pure elemental mercury is sold to oil and gas companies and even some for medical usage in hospitals. We were welcomed by a few of the plant’s 40 staff members and given a presentation on the company, beginning with the safety procedures for visitors of the site. We were then walked through the processes of the company, and specifically how mercury is removed from petroleum excavated by large companies in the oil and gas industry. Some of the major clients of BMT include Chevron and Hess, and BMT deals with their operations mainly in the Gulf of Thailand. After the presentation, we were divided into two groups and given a short tour of the site. We each put on a hard helmet, safety glasses and shoe covers and went into the extremely hot facility. The tour was quick due to the heat, and we returned back up to the meeting room for a closing question and answer session.


CEO talking about the mercury treatment process


Mike Botto looking good, ready to tour the factory


Gas treatment

The second visit was a short drive to the Philips Lighting Facility. Upon arrival we gathered in the cafeteria for lunch. We were served fried rice with egg and chicken. Following lunch we headed over to one of their fifty factories worldwide where we met the General Manager of Lighting Industrial Operations for Thailand and Vietnam, Cees Algra. He gave us a quick introduction to the Bangpoo location and then passed the presentation to Mr. Kwanchai, the quality and product manager. Mr. Kwanchai gave us an overview of Philips and discussed their main competitor, General Electric. We then watched a ten-minute informative video about the process of making the light bulbs before heading downstairs to take a tour of the factory. We learned about the use of mercury and phosphate, which is used to add the white coating seen in light bulbs we use every day. We also got the chance to see glass being bent into circular bulbs under 700 degree Celsius temperatures. No pictures were allowed in the factory. After the tour we headed back to the conference room for a coffee break and a Q&A session before departing and heading to our third business meeting.


For lunch we had fried rice with chicken.



Our third stop was at a factory for a company called Suniture. They specialize in making high-end outdoor furniture products. They make umbrellas, couches, and beanbags for hotels in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. The company is ten years old and headquartered in Hong Kong. The special thing about Suniture’s outdoor furniture is in the fabric they use. Their fabric is built to withstand the sun and weather that usually damages fabrics and makes them fade in the sun. They do this by adding the color to the to the solution that is then made into the tread that eventually is made into the final product. We first convened in their conference room on the third floor where we were shown a slideshow about the product and two commercial spots they made. They then took us down to the factory where we got to see all the different fabrics and saw workers building custom orders for special outdoor furniture. We concluded with another question and answer session, and then boarded the bus back to Bangkok.


Welsford paying close attention


Botto in awe of the factory

After a long day of great business and factory visits, the group headed back to the Pullman Hotel to wash up for what would be a very interesting dinner at one of Bangkok’s famous restaurants, Cabbages and Condoms. We arrived at the restaurant to see most of the building decorated in colorful condoms. While it seemed disgusting at first, we were able to understand the importance of the restaurant after a presentation by its founder, Dr. Mee Chai. He gave an hour-long presentation about how he has created many of these restaurants in Thailand in attempt of combating the HIV that had once been so common in the country. Mee Chai’s foundation has generated millions of dollars over the last thirty years, and decreased AIDS by an incredible amount. Thailand has also seen its population growth decrease from a staggering 3.3% down to .5% during this time, and the average number of children in a family went from 7 down to 2. Birth control became more widely available, and condoms were distributed at just about every location throughout the country. The World Bank even stated that the foundation has saved about 8 million lives over its time span. Dr. Mee Chai’s presentation made the group very aware of the situation that had once plagued Thailand, but now thanks to this foundation, is now very much under control. After a great dinner at Cabbages and Condoms, the group split up and many went out for a night on the town. It was certainly a very insightful day in Bangkok.


Captain Condom to the rescue!!!! Made of all condoms


Tiger Woods?

– Jay Rosencrans and Todd Merriman

By elonfinance

Another Day in Bangkok

Sawadeeka from Bangkok!

Today marks the halfway point of our Asian excursion. It’s hard to believe that we will be coming home in only a few short days. As evidenced by the previous posts from our classmates, our trip has only been getting better and better every day. From our first steps in Hong Kong to our gambling extravaganza in Macau to our elephant adventures in Thailand, its obvious that our trip has been one of a kind. Within our experience, we have found that each day has something special to offer.

Today, we were grateful for our all-encompassing day, which consisted of a balance between relaxing and learning. After a group night out on the town last night, we were more than excited to wake up to a ringing phone at 9 am as opposed to 7 am. Needless to say, a few of us needed those extra hours of sleep (especially since today marks the aftermath of Todd’s 21st birthday). After waking up from a full nights rest, we optimistically headed down to the second floor to meet our classmates for breakfast. After re-energizing with a refreshing meal we all proceeded to the bus to embark on another cultural journey. In spirit of our cultural excursion, a few of us decided to embrace the local culture, by adorning ourselves in simple Thai dress. You will see in the pictures a range of elephant pants, tribal shirts, and cowboy hats, which the majority of students found to be practical and comfortable for cultural spirit and 90 degree weather. IMG_1024

Feeling energized, we endured a 20 minutes bus ride to a local dock to load a boat tour that led us through Bangkok. On our tour we saw a variety of local surroundings, including the Siriaj Hospital, university campuses, alligators, fish, and typical speedboaters. The highlight of the boat ride was definitely the stop we made to see and feed the local fish, which was much to our surprise catfish. IMG_1003

Now that we’ve taken you through a detailed synopsis of our boat ride, which I’m sure you didn’t actually care about, we’d like to share our experience at the Temple of Dawn, a Buddhist temple on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Referred to in Thai as the “Wat Arun,” The Temple of Dawn is a well-known Bangkok landmark that is named by a late Thai king as he arrived at this safe haven at the break of dawn in the nineteenth century. After our tour guide Angela informed us of the history of this temple, we proceeded to enter the temple with big eyes and weak knees… literally. As we ambitiously explored the landmark, we saw that the climb to the top of the temple was steep enough to make anyone dizzy. The severity of the heat mixed with steep steps and dehydration made for a long and terrifying hike up. But, once we got to the top we were excited to find the view to be worth the trek.IMG_1011

After being the professional tourists that we are and taking pictures of the scenery, we headed down to the exit to proceed to an afternoon of lunch and shopping. Our tour guide led us to an area called MBK to start the relaxation of our day. As we both stepped inside, we were quickly overwhelmed with the absurd amount of shoppers, vendors, and disorganization. Almost as terrifying as the steep walk up the Temple of Dawn, we decided to delve into the mall madness. With only five minutes in the door we immediately decided to head “home” to the Pullman hotel for American comfort food and refreshing foot massages. Exhausted from the combination of our traveling, drinking, eating and exploring, we found that this relaxing afternoon was just what we needed.photo-26

As our day came to an end, we met back up with our classmates to head to dinner for local Thai cuisine, a short 10-minute walk from the hotel. With good food, wine, and new friends, we found this dinner to be the perfect ending to another day in Asia.

– Kim and Austin

By elonfinance

Sunday, January 13 was our free day in Bangkok! We chose to go with our teachers and 6 other students to Ayuthaya for the day. Ayuthaya was the second capital city of Thailand from 1350 to 1767, and is now a popular site for visiting the ancient ruins of temples from that time period. We visited 3 sites of temple ruins. The 2nd temple we visited was built in 1374 and was the resident of the supreme monk of Ayuthaya. This temple took 16 years to build. Ayuthaya is also home to the first Catholic Church ever built in Thailand. This church was built in 1512 by Porteguese immigrants. Our tour guide taught us about the different religions of Thailand including Buddhism and Catholicism. We learned about the 5 rules of Buddhism for Lay People which are; no adultry, no lying, no stealing, no drinking alcohol, and no harming animals. We bought incense, candles, and gold leaf so we could rub the gold on Buddha and leave the lit incense and candle and a lotus flower as offerings. Also, we got to have a cage with a small bird in it, and as we opened up the door to release the bird would make a wish! Angela our tour guide made it really fun for us, and we loved making wishes.

For lunch we ate at a traditional Thai restaurant on one of the many rivers in Thailand. Some of the things we ordered included green curry, sweet and sour chicken, chicken fried rice, and duck. We also had two very interesting desserts. One of them was warm milk with Taro root and the other was iced milk with water chesnuts that had been soaked in rose syrup. Our favorite was the warm milk with Taro root!

After visiting the various temples we headed back to the hotel. When we got back we asked some of the other members of our group what they had done. Some people explored the city riding the Tuk Tuk which is a motorized vehicle with open sides that holds two people. Other people laid by the hotel pool and others decided to use the day to catch up on some sleep.

At around 5:30 we and our friend Mike decided to get our first massage in Thailand. We walked down the road from our hotel to a massage parlor that had a lot of people in it assuming that that meant it must be a good one. We each got hour long foot massages. It was really relaxing and we talked to the people giving us massages and found out that they were around our age. It was nice being able to have a short conversation despite the language barrier. After the foot massage we were each given a very short head, neck, and back massage. We all decided that before we leave Bangkok we are going to return for a full hour of a head, neck, and back massage.

When we got back we heard that there was a big group of people at Khao San Road, a popular back-packer destination. We took a taxi there with two other kids in our group to meet up with everyone else. Khao San Road was full of shops, vendors, and bars. We got to meet other travelers and the whole night was a lot of fun.

Our free day was a blast because we got to learn more about the culture and history of the Thai people while enjoying amazing food and company. Not to mention the warm temperatures, which are always better than the cold winter of Boston, where we are both from. The massages and nightlife was a great way to end the day and we thoroughly enjoyed our free time in Bangkok!





Rubbing gold leaf on the Budhha

Rubbing gold leaf on the Budhha







-Jane Siegel and Alex Nuesse

Free Day and Ayuthaya

By elonfinance