Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

The Adventure of a Lifetime

Posted 12/12/2023 by Amaris Medina

Explore the world - it is filled with so much beauty. photo by Silvia Ceballos (My grandma)

While three counties in 10 days sounds exhausting, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. 

A wise teacher once said, “if you have the opportunity to travel, take it.” I think this is one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received. Having the opportunity to travel out of the country is a privilege that I am so grateful to have had. Over Thanksgiving break, I got to go to Japan, Thailand, and Singapore with my grandparents. I was gone for a total of ten days, including travel days. While the ride there was long and extensive, it was definitely worth the 35 hours of total time on the airplane.

My trip began with an unexpected setback. Our connecting flight to Tokyo, Japan, got delayed by two hours. Those two hours then turned into six, and we left at the absolute latest time that our plane could leave. After a 12-hour long flight, we arrived in Japan. At this point, we had already missed our connecting flight to Bangkok, Thailand. To most, this would be the worst start to a trip, but for us it was a blessing in disguise. 

The next flight out was midnight the next day at an airport an hour away. This meant that we would get the whole day until our flight the next day. My grandparents and I jumped at this opportunity. We decided to spend the day exploring this little town called Narita. For me, it was a culture shock. Everything seemed so different, from the food to the cars and the architecture. We took a shuttle into the town and walked around for a while, and then went to a temple nearby. It was one of the most gorgeous buildings that I had ever seen. The whole time, I joked with my grandparents that it wasn’t real and we were just on a movie set. We walked around the temple and saw people either visiting or practicing Buddhism. There was one moment in particular that stuck with me. We stood in front of a building that had a big pot outside of it that was used for some sort of practice. We walked up to a family with a little girl no older than five years old. Her mother guided her in lighting the incense and placing it in the pot. I have never been one to find religion beautiful, but in this moment, it opened my eyes and the sight of this little girl practicing her spirituality and her parents teaching her the ways of it will stay with me forever. 

We got to the other Tokyo airport and still had six hours to spare. We took the train from the airport to another city called Shibuya. We spent a couple hours there exploring and looking at one of the malls the train brought us out to. It was finally time to head back to the airport, so we got back on the train. As soon as we needed to buy our tickets back, we encountered a problem. We had no idea how to get back to the airport. We asked multiple people, but the language barrier made it really hard to figure out where we needed to go. Each person we asked kept sending us in different directions. I think we were probably lost for about 20 minutes. The ride back to the airport was 40 minutes, and it took us an hour or so. We finally made it back to the airport and began our journey to Thailand. 

We spent a total of three days in Bangkok. Our first day we spent shopping in the city. One thing that I learned while being in Asia is that they really like their malls. Within the span of 100 feet, there were four malls, all connected by an outdoor pathway. While this sounds like any shopping lover’s heaven, it was one of the most overwhelming experiences. There is so much going on around you that it’s really hard to pay attention to one thing at a time. It seemed that everywhere we went there were people. This was one of my least favorite parts about Bangkok and something many fail to mention about the city. The next two days, we explored outside of the city. We saw the famous railroad market located one hour outside of the city. From there, we went to the floating market, which was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. You get on a boat that takes you through a man made pathway on a river. The boat driver brings you up to different stalls that are set up along the river. You continue floating along the river signaling when you want to stop at a stall. They had everything from souvenirs, clothing, and some of the popular local foods. The market is both a tourist attraction and a way of life, and it was crazy to think that people actually live this way. Life seemed much more simple for those people. It was a beautiful and sad thing to witness. The idea that someone lives along a river and practically outside is really cool, but at the same time, it was really sad to see the condition that some of these people were living in. Living in the U.S has isolated me from so much, and I realized how fortunate I am for the life that I live. I personally didn’t like Thailand. It was too crowded and a little overwhelming at times, but it was a new place and a new experience.

We spent the last three days of the trip in Singapore, which ended up being my favorite place. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There are trees and greenery everywhere you look. The entire city felt very clean and well-kept. We got to go to the Gardens by the Bay, which is one of the main attractions in Singapore. If you ever get the opportunity to go, take it. We also went to the Singapore Zoo Night Safari. I got to feed a rhino and an elephant, which was a once in a lifetime experience. During our time in Singapore, we took the MRT once. The MRT is the train system that runs underground all around Singapore. I don’t think I have ever seen public transportation so clean in my entire life. The aspect that I found cool about it was that with most stations, there was a mini mall right as you get off the train. The station we got off at was even connected into the mall that was just a block away from us. Again, I thought to myself, another mall? There were many more on Orchard Street within the city. On our final full day in Singapore, we went to a celebration of life party for my grandparents’ friend’s mom. It was another beautiful experience. I got to learn and see all of the customs and traditions that they have as Singaporians. The morning we left, we went to the temple with the family of the deceased. They walked us through every practice they were going through to send their family member into the afterlife. It was very interesting to see the customs of Buddhism. This trip has made me appreciate religion and spirituality a lot more than I ever have before. 

This will forever go down as one of the most memorable trips that I have ever taken. I am so glad I was able to go on this trip as it has opened my eyes to so many different things. I went out of my comfort zone and tried new foods and for once in my life, let go of control. I am forever grateful to have been able to have this experience with my grandparents. If I could leave you with one thing, it would be to go out and see the world. There is so much out there that will lead you to new experiences and a new view on life. This trip really was the adventure of a lifetime.