Thailand’s unwavering friendliness and welcoming culture makes it one of the most diverse and LGBTQ+ friendly destinations in Asia. With a diverse array of experiences that cater to every type of traveler, it’s no surprise that the Land of Smiles is home to the world’s largest beauty pageant for transgender women, Miss International Queen, which took place this past March.
One of the contestants from Canada, Julie Vu, made headlines and history as the second Canadian to ever participate in Miss International Queen (the first was Jenna Talackova in 2010). However, this wasn’t Julie’s first time traveling to Thailand. She’s been to Thailand a few times and considers it one of her most favorite places in the world, especially as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Julie is set to return to Thailand for an LGBTQ+ event this September. Before she goes back, we had a chance to sit down with her and talk about her experience competing at Miss International Queen and traveling to Thailand.
Q: How did you find out about the Miss International Queen pageant and what motivated you to join this competition?
I found out about the Miss International Queen pageant when I first started my transition. I was doing some research about transgender women and the pageant popped up. I instantly fell in love with the Miss International Queen organization and wished that one day I could be just as beautiful as all the other contestants. What motivated me to join this competition were my supporters. They believed in me and suggested that I follow my dreams so I did apply!
Q: How did you prepare for Miss International Queen and what was your main challenge?
To prepare for Miss International Queen I watched Miss Universe over and over again. I practiced their answers and made sure I was caught up with current events just in case I was asked a question. I went to the gym and worked extra hard on my physique. I had a friend help me with my national costume and I would say that that was the biggest challenge. Transporting the national costume because it was so delicate and large.
Q: Name 3 of the most memorable and life-changing experiences during Miss International Queen?
The first memorable experience during Miss International Queen was meeting and getting to know all of the other contestants. They were all so lovely and nice, which I was a bit skeptical about walking into the pageant. Secondly, being on that very stage that I have always longed to be on. It was so surreal and a truly life changing experience, but I also learned that even if you don’t go home with the crown, it doesn’t mean you’re not a winner. We’re all winners and that’s something to always remember.
Q: You’ve been to Thailand a few times. What can you say about Thailand’s welcoming culture?
Thailand’s welcoming culture is the best I’ve experienced. I always feel so welcomed and respected every time I travel to Thailand. People are so polite and it’s refreshing to experience. I love Thailand, my favorite place in the world!
Q: What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done in Thailand?
The coolest thing I’ve done in Thailand would have to be bathing with the elephants. Being in the water next to the elephants and bathing them is truly remarkable. It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it to anyone!
Q: You probably had various culinary experiences in Thailand from street food markets to dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. What is your favorite Thai dish and what can you say about the Thailand culinary scene in general?
My favorite dish would have to be the Tom Ka Gai, which is coconut chicken soup. It’s so different from all of the other soups I’ve had. The Thailand culinary scene is full of flavor and color. It gives your taste buds a punch, and it will leave you wanting more!
Q: What advice would you give to a traveler going to Thailand for the first time?
My advice for someone traveling to Thailand for the first time is spend a lot of time there. There is so much to see, and so much to do. Take your time and explore all parts of Thailand. It is truly a beautiful country.
To watch Julie’s Miss International Queen journey, check out her YouTube video: Miss International Queen 2019 – VLOG
Want to learn more about LGBTQ+ travel to Thailand? Visit our website www.gothaibefree.com!