Krommingas cross Thailand off vacation bucket list

Greg and Christi Kromminga ride an elephant through the jungle while on their trip to Thailand. They spent about two weeks in the country in early November, a bucket list vacation. (Photos submitted)

While in Thailand, the Krommingas met up with a former exchange teacher who taught in Monticello, Surin Mingchye. Greg spoke to his English class about life in the U.S.

One of the street vendors the Krommingas saw while in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. Greg tried various foods, including fried larva.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Ask yourself this question: “What are the top five vacation spots on my bucket list?” Then see if the country of Thailand appears anywhere on your list.

     For Greg and Christi Kromminga of Monticello, Thailand was a place that appealed to them in more ways than none.

     Greg said he’s wanted to visit Thailand for the last 10 years.

     “It’s beautiful and exotic and I wanted to see it,” he said.

     He admitted they finally earned enough mileage and hotel points to use for this trip, which actually made it pretty cheap in the long run.

     The couple spent over 20 hours in the air just getting to Thailand. They left Nov. 6 and returned Nov. 16.

     “It went by fast,” said Greg.

     They flew from Cedar Rapids to Denver, then from Denver to Tokyo, Japan, a 12-hour flight alone. Once they arrived in Tolyo, the Krommingas then boarded another plane to Bangkok, Thailand, which Greg said is almost 3,000 miles.

     The time difference also took some getting used to, with Thailand ahead of the United States by about 13 hours.

     “We crossed the International Date Line and lost a day,” Greg said, “and lost a day.”

     This time of the year is the start of the winter season in Thailand. However, even now temperatures are in the uppers 80s and low 90s. Greg said if you traveled there during the summer, it would be unbearable.

     “It was more temperate,” he said of this time of the year.

     Thailand is located in southern Asia, relatively close to the equator, which is why it’s so warm there year-round. Though, it’s still within the Northern Hemisphere.

     “It’s so tropical and humid there,” Greg said.

     The Krommingas stayed at a Marriott Hotel while in Bangkok, and made their way around the country, staying in three different hotels before the end of their trip.

     As for planning and putting together an agenda of sorts, Greg said it wanted to make any reservations, preferring to be spontaneous.

     “I wanted to just wing it,” he said. “I didn’t want to stick to a schedule.”

     Greg said the city and capital of Thailand, Bangkok, is pretty modernized. Public transportation services include taxis or “tuk tuks,” a three-wheeled mechanical bicycle with seats in the rear for two or three people. Greg said they saw a family of four on the back on several occasions.

     “In Bangkok, you see so many people of scooters,” recalled Greg. “Typically, the public doesn’t have vehicles.”

     Greg said they could also take the train system, which is above ground.

     The Krommingas also took in the sights at the island of Phuket.

     Their trip allowed them to see so much of the Thailand culture from Buddhist temples to waterfalls and jungles. One of the biggest highlights for Greg was riding on the top of an elephant through the jungle.

     “The manmade temples are everywhere,” Greg said.

     He also took the time to go scuba diving in the warm, tropical waters.

     “That was spectacular,” he said.

     The language barrier wasn’t a huge issue, and food and shopping, Greg said, was relatively inexpensive.

     “We used cash almost everywhere we went,” he said, with the exception of the hotels.

     The Krommingas felt safe throughout Thailand. Greg remarked how friendly people were.

     “Everyone was so kind and respectful,” he said.

     While there, they met up with a former English exchange teacher who taught in Monticello in the 1990s, Surin Mingchye. He took the couple on a tour of his property, and Greg spoke to his English class of about 500 students.

     “I told them about Iowa, what I do for a living, about my family and how I met Surin,” shared Greg.

     When it came to the food in Thailand, Greg said so many of the main dishes are served over white “sticky” rice.

     “The food was ok,” he said. “It wasn’t as tasty.”

     The food there is heavy on the vegetables and seafood, little meat.

     Bangkok is home to numerous street vendors, and Greg tried fried larva and a baby octopus on top of what he described as a doughnut.

     Throughout Thailand, the Krommingas saw very little Americans, more tourists from other countries such as Iran, Bahrain, Russia, and Australia.

     Once they returned home, Greg said it took them a week to adjust to the time change and get their schedules back on track.

     “It was a great experience,” he said.


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