May 19, 2017


BANGKOK, Thailand – Rising junior setter Taylor Hughes is making her second international tour with the U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team (CNT), this time venturing to Thailand for an 11-day trip (May 19-30). Hughes will be sending back daily updates, giving Buckeye Nation an insider’s look in her newest adventure.

Hughes is among a dozen American collegiate players selected to train and compete in Bangkok following a 238-participant U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts held back in early March. Hughes was also a member of the 2016 CNT Europe Tour.

DAY 12, May 30

Today was an early day! We left the hotel at 3 a.m. for our 6:50 flight. We’ll travel to Hong Kong, then California. Afterwards, we’ll say our goodbyes and head to our individual flights home! This trip was amazing and really eye opening. It’s crazy to think about all we have in the States — from air-conditioned gyms to basic drinking fountains & even toilet paper in the bathroom. But, the beauty and the kindness and how they worship here is unreal. People could have nothing here, but still want to put a smile on your face. I am so glad I got to be a part of this team and trip!!!

DAY 11, May 29
Today we had a pretty good day!! We woke up, ate breakfast and headed to the MBK Mall of Thailand! It was eight stories and looked endless. It was cool to see how they shopped and what their interests are here. After the mall we had about an hour or two before we headed down for pregame meal.

We played the Thailand National Team again and they took us in five! It was a good game and awesome to play against the same girls, it made it a little more fun. In the picture above is my teammate McKenna’s dad and his girlfriend. who are both Ohio State Grads came to watch her play. Being Ohio State people, we had ENDLESS to talk about. The tradition stays with you forever. Once a Buckeye always a Buckeye!

After our game we showered and got ready for our last team dinner. I am unsure how to pronounce or type it because it was all in Thai language and Thai scriptures, but it was a pretty good send off meal! After dinner we just went back to the hotel and relaxed for the night!!!

DAY 10, May 28
Today we leave the beautiful city of Pattaya. We woke up and had breakfast in our hotel, and I wanted to mention how nice our hotel was. It wasn’t the typical Holiday Inn hotel, it was one of the nicest hotels I’ve been in their lobby, rooms, bathrooms, multiple pool areas with 26 floors it seemed like a resort hotel and the breakfast was very amazing (with amazing doughnuts). After breakfast we had till noon to checkout, so like usual, we went to the pool to just relax. The past few days in the hotel we noticed police and military men everywhere and wondered why and while checking out in the lobby we got our answer. Turns out the princess was staying in the same hotel! We all had to stand up and be quiet while the princess was walking in to the hotel, it was really a coincidence we got to see her! Afterwards we had a two-hour bus trip back to Bangkok where we headed straight to practice from 3-5 p.m..

We then showered and got ready go have dinner with the President of Thai Volleyball Federation at Laem Cha-reau Seafood (pictured above).

It was about an 8-10 course meal! Being the eater that I am, I decided to try seafood for the first time ever. I tried the squid, sea bass, and crabs, it was alright but I don’t think I like that the food looked exactly like what the animal would be if it was alive 😕 After dinner we headed back to the hotel and decided to go across the street to the coffee shop to hangout and do some homework!!!

DAY 9, May 27

We woke up and had breakfast at 9 a.m.! The perks of staying in a Holiday Inn was the typical breakfast style buffet. We had some omelets and pancakes and other familiar looking food🤗. After breakfast we headed down to the beach to find a boat that would take us to KohLarn Island. It’s amazing because here you just walk up and down a beach until you find someone with a big enough boat to take your group over there. It’s not a set schedule or planned at all.

Once we arrived, we were on our own for the day. There were shops, beach, multiple swimming activities and food! The island was very pretty with clear water and warm weather! There was a lot going on in the water, boats coming and going, jet skies, banana boats, etc., but it was more of an organized chaos.

After the island we boated back to Pattaya where we got per diem for dinner so we had the night to ourselves to eat and roam. A couple of us decided to eat at Hard Rock Cafe! It was amazing to sit down and eat at a familiar place, but it was also different than those in the U.S. with the design and decorations.

After dinner we stopped at McDonald’s, also to see if it was different or similar than U.S. It had different menu options, but also had the classic Oreo McFlurry. Although it was noticeably smaller, still good! The rest of the night we just headed down to the pool area to talk and relax!!! It was very nice to have an off day & soak up the sun.

DAY 8, May 26
Today we decided to get up early and have practice from 7-9 a.m. in order to have a full day off in Pattaya. After practice it was about a two-hour trip down to Pattaya where our hotel would be on the beach! We got there and it was instantly beautiful, we checked in and decided to head down to the beach to see what it was like. The water was super warm, but with how hot it is here that doesn’t surprise me. After an hour or two at the beach we went back to our hotel to check out the infinity pool and we all met there to hangout for a bit. After relaxing for the afternoon we had a team dinner outside at Harvana next to our hotel. Today was a relaxing day and had some really amazing views along the way!

DAY 7, May 25
Today was an interesting day to say the least. We started with breakfast in the hotel as normal, but noticed the streets were flooded from last night’s monsoon. Yes my first monsoon ever.

Before we started to walk we were told not to step in the water because you do not know what’s in it and because of their sewage system when it floods. So, walking to the gym for morning practice was very challenging. We walked for about 40 minutes trying to find a way to the gym, but it just wasn’t possible/ We eventually decided to head back to the hotel and have film sessions instead.

I was amazed at how much water there was on the streets and that people were not bothered by it at all. Cars, taxis, mopeds, food stands were all out and about, I know my car wouldn’t make it through all that water!!!

After film session we had about two hours of down time and me being the person I am spent it at the Sky Bar relaxing. We headed to pregame meal, then to our match against the Thailand National U23 Team.

After the game was a lot of fun and probably my favorite place so far! We went down town to the Night Market that had endless stands of shops and foods. The shops were very different, some were tourists shops but some you could tell were their everyday clothing stores, which was cool to see that. We headed back to the hotel around 10:30 & called it a night!!

DAY 6, May 24
Today was an early day!! We decided to have an early morning practice in hopes it would be a little cooler in the gym and that way we could spend our day exploring! We had practice from 7-9, and although it might have been early in the morning, it was still very hot with a humidity of 65 in the morning.

Wat Yai After practice we had a little time to get ready, have some breakfast and take off to our first stop, Wat Yai. This is a non-functioning temple ground. In the picture above you can see the bricks are worn down because many years ago, in 1593, the Burmese tried to invade the city and attempted to burn down Wat Yai. The remains are still standing and it is now a visiting/worshiping site. The views from the temple was amazing and unlike anything we’ve seen. Next we stopped at Ayutthaya Historical Park. Similar to Wat Yai the Burmese attempted to burn down this area as well but also added the chopping of every Buddha head off its’ statue in order to show their power. Walking throughout this park was also amazing and the pictures really do not do it justice in the beauty. Included in the photo gallery at the top of the blog is a picture and explanation of the Buddha’s head in the tree roots. People also come here to worship their culture.

Afterwards we went to the Floating Market, outside of the Floating Market was elephants!!!!!!!! 🐘 We saw one baby elephant and a lot of elephants, who are sadly trained to give rides. The Floating Market was a market full of food and shopping stands which all sat on top of the water. We ate lunch and had some time to shop and look around before we headed back to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 5 and decided to rest a little bit, traffic in Bangkok on the way back from traveling was unlike any traffic I’ve seen in Columbus during rush hour. Since we had a long day of sightseeing we decided to just have a team dinner across the street at a cafe shop that had a wide variety of food and coffee! Dinner was at 7 and we stayed until about 9:45-ish, just talking and hanging out.

DAY 5 | May 23
Today we woke up and had breakfast as usual, a lot of rice involved with every meal! After breakfast we got packed up to visit a famous temple, Wat Pho. Our drive further into the city of Bangkok was amazing, every view you had — left/right forward/backward — tall buildings and apartment buildings everywhere. The city of Bangkok almost looks endless. A fun note I saw is that their billboards are at least three times the size of ours and their taxis are neon pink & green! Another thing I noticed since being here is the mourning of the King the Thai people are experiencing. The King ruled here since he was 18 & died at 87 last October. He was so loved that they are still building his funeral site in Bangkok, which is expected to attract over 20 million people and will happen this October.

Once we arrived at the temple you had to follow strict rules of no shoes and your ankles and shoulders had to be covered. We had a tour guide that spoke English that explained everything so well and we really learned a lot. The Buddha is sacred to the Thai people and each Buddha is covered in gold with each one meaning something different based on body language and expression. All of the pictures are from the temple grounds of Wat Pho. After our visit we headed back to the hotel for a quick nap and went to pregame meal. Each meal has included different fruits, one which I found to be amazing was guava, I looked it up and supposedly it is one of the top 10 foods to try while in Thailand🤗. On a more serious note, we watched film today from our previous match and we really learned a lot and could focus our next match on particular things.

We played the Thailand National Team and beat them in five! Their style of play was very similar to the Professional Supreme VC Team we previously competed against, very fast paced and low error. After our match we headed back to the hotel to do some laundry and hangout as a team. Today was a really fun day and we were able to see a lot of the history of Thailand🇹🇭.

DAY 4 | May 22
Day 4 of our trip consisted of our first match against the Supreme Professional Team. We had breakfast at 8 a.m. and went straight to our morning practice from 9-11. After that we had down time until pregame meal at 1 p.m.. My roommate & I, who is Brittnant Witt, decided to spend an hour at the Sky Bar pool to cool off and relax. We got ready for our pregame meal and headed on over to where we ate, and afterwards we got ready for our game!

Taylor getting in a lil work over in Thailand#GoBucks

— OhioStateWVolleyball (@ohiostatewvball) May 23, 2017

Although we lost all sets against the Supreme Professional Team, it was amazing to see their style of play, which was all very, very, very fast tempo with double quicks almost every play. They also played very low-error volleyball. It was amazing finally getting to play a match of volleyball. We then had dinner and walked around the streets outside of our hotels for a bit and decided to call it a night since tomorrow morning we’ll be sightseeing instead of a morning practice. I’ll have more checking in tomorrow!!🤗

DAY 3 | May 21
We checked into Bangkok Inter-Place hotel in the morning from our long day of travel and went straight eat at the Thailand National training center and had practice there. Stepping out of the airport in Thailand was like walking into a US sauna x10, it was almost like a blanket of humid 110 degree weather that you could feel laying on you. It might have been the hottest and humid country I’ve ever been in. After lunch we went straight to practice to get comfortable playing with each other a little more and in a new gym with new volleyballs! Practicing with amazing players surrounding me is an incredible experience, I have loved being with this team!

After practice we had dinner at the national complex again, the soup here is incredible! I’ve ate a lot of soup and rice. The streets of Thailand are unlike anything I’ve seen. First, they drive on the opposite sides of the roads and drive on the right side inside of the car. Secondly, I have not seen one stop sign/traffic light/directional signs, it is literally a free for all. It’s amazing to see it happening, you have to be aggressive if you want to make it anywhere. Crossing the street is also a game in itself because of this reason, in my picture above you see a lot of carts and local stands. They have food and fruit everywhere available! I haven’t yet tried anything but their culture and food choices are very different and it’s exciting to see.

After practice, my roommate & I decided to check out the “Sky Bar” (pictured above) on the top floor of the hotel and the view is breathtaking (below). You see every part of Bangkok and the back view is the view of the National Soccer Colosseum (also below). I love the pool and the view! Another interesting thing I’ve noticed so far about Bangkok is there are no houses or property people can own, it’s all apartment and building style living Very unique.

DAY 2 | May 20
Day 2 consisted solely of traveling! Our red eye flight to Hong Kong took off at 12:55 a.m. and it was 15 and a half hours. Although having a window seat was a big positive because of the views. The plane was huge! I was in Row 71. There were very nice movies to watch thankfully. Next, we’ll be flying off from Hong Kong to Bangkok! This flight will be short, only two hours and 45 minutes, and then we’ll land in Bangkok at 10:45 a.m. their time and start Day 3!
Go Bucks 🤗

DAY 1 | May 19
Day 1 of the trip consisted of our first part of traveling. I had an early flight to California at 7 a.m., but got there at 10 a.m. Pacific time and sat in the sun with the other girls that had arrived early as well. We lounged outside around Loyola Marymount University’s campus and waited for the whole team to arrive. We then had practice from 3-6 at LMU. It was a great practice for us playing together for the first time. This group will be really fun and talented!

After practice we had dinner at an Italian place called Alejos Presto. Then we went back to the airport for our flight to Hong Kong that took off at 12:55 a.m.