“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Hello from Thailand! Yes, I have decided to start a blog, not something I usually do when I am traveling but I can already tell that writing about my adventures in Thailand will be the best way to share my experiences with everyone back home considering the 11 hour time difference and sketchy wifi that prevails here! It has been about two weeks since I packed up my life and moved to this amazing country and so far I have to say I definitely feel like I have made the right move. This country has not failed to astonish me at almost every turn.
Everything from the people to the food functions in a way that is entirely different than the USA. In my TESOL class the other day, we had a really great conversation about this, and came to the realization that these differences ultimately boil down to a difference in cultural values. In the US and in many western countries, productivity and efficiency are of the utmost importance in almost all aspects of society. In Thailand, the two most important values tend more towards harmony and loyalty. Thais live their lives in a community oriented mindset, every decision they make incorporates the thoughts and feelings of their family and friends, there is nothing they dislike more than interrupting the harmony of their community. This often means that decisions are made at the last minute, and you never really know what is going on until it is happening. As an American used to efficiency and organization, this has been quite the learning experience! I have realized that sometimes the best thing to do is take a step back and acknowledge that I should just take a deep breath and accept uncertainty and embrace whatever happens. Nothing ever works out exactly as you plan for it too, and I am slowly trying to get used to that. The Thais even have a saying for this feeling: Mai Pen Rai, which roughly translates to “whatever will be, will be”. It is the Thai way of maintaining a sense of calm during stressful situations and something I have been actively trying to adopt into my own life.
So moving on… what have I been doing here for the past few weeks?? SO MUCH! Chiang Mai is an incredible city in Northern Thailand. It is nestled in the mountains and full of friendly people, beautiful temples and delicious food! During my first weekend here, a group of other teachers and I decided to go on a hike. We had a beautiful trail picked out that was supposed to lead us to a waterfall and we were all super excited for it. Well, Thailand had other plans for us! After a confused songtheuw ride we ended up being dropped off by our poor driver at a completely different location. So we looked at some maps, figured out where we were and ended up by accidentally walking almost 10 miles to a beautiful lake, where we went swimming, saw some beautiful Buddha statues and ate lunch at a cute restaurant where the tables were in little bungalows that were on stilts above the lake. Not exactly what we planned, but still a pretty amazing day!
In the past few weeks I have also visited many ornately decorated temples, including the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a golden temple atop a mountain on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Another day I got to practice the national sport in Thailand: Muay Thai. Muay Thai is similar to American boxing and was surprisingly very fun, even though I am not a huge fan of boxing. Our Muay Thai coaches were very tough on us, making us run sprints and do squats before we even picked up boxing gloves. In the rink, we practiced kicking and punching as hard as we could, which felt so good!
So all in all, Thailand has been pretty amazing so far. There is a lot to get used to, but the more I embrace it, the more I love it. Missing everybody back home so much, please keep in touch! I don’t want this blog to be a one way form of communication, I want to hear from all of you as well 🙂 I promise I will post again soon to update everyone on what I actually came here for in the first place: teaching!
PS love you and miss you so much Mom, Dad, Abby and Fritz!