By LARRY VAUGHT
Spending time studying in Thailand gave Centre College junior Brooklyn Bell a lot of different — or maybe unique would be a better word — experiences.
She went to Thailand as part of Centre’s winter term with two field hockey teammates — Cole Jordan and Alicia Kalbfleisch. All three are from Louisville.
“I decided to go to Thailand primarily because I had a few friends going. When deciding where to study abroad, though, I wanted to go somewhere I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to go to if it weren’t for Centre’s study abroad program,” Bell said. “There were a lot of trips I wanted to go on, but a lot of them were places I figured I would be more likely to travel to in my lifetime.
“I don’t know that I would’ve travelled to Thailand for just a vacation later on in life. It was very comforting to have a couple teammates with me, and I’m so glad I got to experience the culture with them.”
Bell was impressed with the unity she found among the people in Thailand.
“I was most impressed with their devotion to their king and also to their Buddhist religion. They are so united in their beliefs,” Bell said.
Her experiences included a chance to interact with elephants as part of what she called a “typical tourist day” that also included white water rafting.
“The organization rescues elephants from the circus where they treat the elephants poorly, so they knew how to hug and kiss us. We also got to bathe the elephants and feed them,” Bell said. “We all wore denim outfits with a certain scent so that the elephants would not be frightened or caught off guard by new people. They have everyone who visits the elephants change into them.”
Bell brought home “trinkets” for family and friends.
“Lots of cute elephant themed things,” the Centre junior said.
One part of the trip she probably would like to forget but likely never will involves getting a “stomach bug” along with about half the study group.
“It was not pretty!” Bell, who had 11 goals in 18 games last season, said.
She also does not plan to eat Pad Thai again. It’s a stir-fried rice noodle dish served as a street food and at casual eateries in Thailand. It is made with soak dried rice noodles that are stir-fried with eggs and chopped tofu, flavored with tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chili pepper and palm sugar. It is served with lime wedges and sometimes chopped roasted peanuts. Often other vegetables or fish/chicken might also be added.
The dish itself was not bad, but eating it every day got very old,” Bell said. “Everything was spiced with curry, which I am not a fan of.”
She’s even less of a fan of snakes, especially after what happened in Thailand.
“We visited a village in the mountains, and the leader of the village took us on a bit of a hike to show us around,” Bell said. “We were standing in the forest when one of our classmates said, ‘Woah, look at that snake!’
“Being oblivious, Cole Jordan and I asked where. Little did we know, a green pit viper was literally inches from our faces hanging from a tree. As we started taking pictures of it, the village leader ran away as he told everyone to get far from it — if that tells you anything.
“Once we were away from it, he told us that only once in his long life had he witnessed someone getting bitten by that type of snake, and they had to amputate his arm. So there is our near death experience.”