Sometimes, the places I saw and my home away from home on the other side of the world seem like a dream. My last post will be about my travels in Thailand and my home and host family in Chiang Mai. While my host family was working hard at school and work, I took a few trips outside of Chiang Mai: Doi Inthanon, Mae Hong Son, and Koh Bulon. My family also took me to Mon Cham and Chiang Rai.
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand. On the road to the top, I stopped at two waterfalls, a hill tribe village, a market for some fruit and flowers, and two Chedis built for the King and the Queen on their 60th birthdays.
I took an overnight trip to Mae Hong Son. From Chiang Mai, I took a five hour bus ride through winding mountain roads to this small, valley town. It feels secluded and surreal, especially when looking across the lake at the temple.
My family took me to Chiang Rai to see Wat Rong Khun, gardens where we saw hill tribe traditional dances, and the Golden Triangle.
Wat Rong Khun is different from other temples in Thailand. Construction of this modern temple began in 1996 and will continue for about 100 more years. The artist and designer created the temple as his idea of Buddhism. It was such an interesting mix of disturbing and serene. The bridge to the entrance crosses over hundreds of grasping hands, some even holding skulls. The temple itself is completely white with mirror mosaic details. It was truly an amazing, fantastical sight.
When you think of paradise, you could be thinking of Koh Bulon Lae…
I spent three nights in a bungalow on this small, quiet island in the south of Thailand. I was originally planning on seeing the main sites of the south such as Phuket and Phang Nga Bay, but I chose this remote island instead and I am so glad I did. I have never felt so peaceful and relaxed in my life. I spent my days sitting on the porch of my bungalow, swimming, reading, walking along the beach and exploring the trails of the island.
Even though the island may have been the most beautiful place I’ve been on Earth, I was still happy getting back to my host family’s house in Chiang Mai. I grew so close to Yiwha and my Thai mom and dad. On my last night, we had dinner together at home and my Thai mom’s friend came over to give us massages! My Thai mom really wanted me to sleep in her room with her and Yiwha on my last night, so I did. We talked a bit and she she said, “Now I have two daughters.”
My host family’s kindness and happiness were incredible and definitely wore off on me. I went to Thailand to learn about Thai culture and teach English. I didn’t realize how much I would learn and gain from this experience. I think the biggest thing I learned was how important family is. It was really strange to think about the situation I was in sometimes. I was an American girl who traveled thousands of miles, pretending to be part of a Thai family. As strange as it really was, I never felt unwelcome or out of place. In fact, I felt like part of their family.