Several months before my finishing school, my parents asked me how I wanted to celebrate my graduation and 25th birthday, since they were a month between each other. Right away, I knew I didn't want a huge party or anything. Big celebrations have never been my idea of extravagance, let alone a celebration for an accomplish. My idea of fun has always been a memorable experience with close family and friends. So immediately I thought, a trip! Duh! And that's exactly what I told my parents, a trip to anywhere in the world.. within reason of course lol.
My first choice was the Maldives, as this has been my dream vacation for the past couple of years. No deep story there, I saw a picture of on of the Maldives islands online and fell in love with it ever since lol. I did my research and soon found out that this would be a pricey trip. My best bet for the most valued trip would probably be to find two more options. I had to think this through a little more. Not only does the destination have to be memorable, but the activities have to be awesome, as well. I also began to think about the 'experience' part of this trip to help select the destination. What are the things I'm passionate about/love the most? What have I always wanted to do? And where I can find these things?
Well, the first part was easy; art, animals, and food! Right off the bat, I knew animals have to be big part of the trip. I've always loved animals and even as a child, I was binge watchedAnimal Plant and The Discovery Channel all the time lol. So I knew a wildlife reserve or sanctuary had to be part of the trip. I wanted to see animals, especially my favorite - African elephants, either in their natural habitats or in a sanctuary devoted to rehabilitating injured/rescued animals, thus canceling out the Maldives anyways (lol). My next thought was Tanzania! Known for it's beautiful tropical climate and vast wildlife, the Serengeti National Park and quick stop to Zanzibar's Mafia Marine National Park were a must. Exciting! Except the part where it was going to be wet season during the time of the trip (late February/early March). Wait a few more months or pick another destination?
What other country in the world has a beautiful art/cultural sceneries, elephants, nice climate/clear weather during in February/March, and great food (literally most countries, I know lol)? For my last option, somewhere in Southeast Asia seemed to work; after all, Asian elephants are still a huge win! After further research, I found that elephants were common in Thailand for tourism reasons; many tourism/circus-like camps have exhibited poor treatment of the elephants for monetary gain. Luckily, I found the Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for rescued, abused, and orphaned elephants from all over Thailand! Here, you can visit and volunteer in project efforts of wellness and enrichment of all the animals in Northern Thailand. How cool will it be to experience this with my parents AND best friend (super excited she can make it)?! Hmm, I had much to think about.
After weighing my options, I've decided to go with Chiang Mai, Thailand! Although I will be missing the beach scenes that the Maldives and Zanzibar would bring, I love the greens/nature scenes that Chiang Mai has to offer. But for the time-frame and purpose of my Graduation/Birthday Trip, Chiang Mai is the best option for me! And not to mention, THE FOOD! I've heard much talk about the local Thai delicacies and the 'go-to' places to eat! I doubt that I'll be ready for the daily 'itis' that will surely come lol. I'll save the Maldives, Tanzania and Zanzibar for another time, soon after I learn how to swim so I can take advantage of all the aquatic activities lol (yes, again, I know!). I'm super excited and can't wait for March! This will be such an awesome experience and best gift I would have ever recieved! Now this is my type of extragance! :)