Monday, January 30, 2017

The Beginning

The last couple weeks have been overwhelming in the best way possible. It's hard to believe that three weeks ago I left the U.S. and started this journey. A journey that has already included interacting with Asian elephants, eating amazing food, being blessed by a monk, experiencing life in the country with a homestay, hiking up a mountain to view the city below, and maybe best of all, meeting the incredible people in my program, the people I have had the pleasure sharing these adventures with. It is difficult to know where to start, and since there are all of these wonderful experiences and more to detail and describe, for now I am just going to include some excerpts from my personal journal. Look forward to detailed features on the Elephant Nature Park, cuisine, temple trips, and more, coming soon!

On arriving in Asia:

January 11th

"Here I am. I have made it - I'm currently sitting in China! The first thing I registered after the initial confusion of how airports function, was the mountains and the fog surrounding the airport. It looks and feels surreal. I'm in China. How is that possible?? I feel like I have fallen in love and I've only been confined to an airport for 3 hours and 34 minutes. I feel like this is a place that is foreign and exciting, but I feel like I could be a part of this life. Traveling to Asia, while it appears crazy in my life this far, seems so natural. Part of me is thinking "How did I get here?" and the other part of me is feeling a certain rightness, like this is how it's suppose to be."

On the food:

January 13th

"Fresh local pineapple from the fruit stand down our soi (alley) as part of breakfast"

"Banana flower salad!"

January 14th

"Tea leaf salad is now one of my favorite dishes - of all time."

First full Thai meal (banana flower salad is the far right dish)

On the Elephant Nature Park:

January 13th

"I got to pet 2 of the elephants, one whose name translates to "Good Enough" in Thai. Their skin is 1" thick and has tough/wiry hair. My favorite part was helping to bathe them by throwing buckets of water on them from the river."

Me in under amazement (photo cred: Mae Gruen)

On the homestay:

January 18th

"Highlight: Watching Muay Thai with Pa (the grandfather of the family) - he was cheering for Thailand (in red) and learned that he use to practice. We also witnessed this one fighter do a knee-jump and kneed the other fighter in the jaw!"

January 26th

"The last day in the village was incredible and emotional. They had us do this blessing where we all held on to this long piece of string while a chief from another village read a blessing. In essence it was to help us to "find our way back home" and for a safe journey..." 

With Mae and Pa, dressed for a traditional Thai dance

And that is only the beginning :)