This past weekend is a perfect example. I saw the most breathe taking sites when bamboo rafting and hiking parts of Doi Inthonan. While floating along the river I gazed upon the tall luscious grasses that bordered the river bank, the crooks of the overarching trees, the thick spiraling vines that clung to trees and formed bridges across the gliding water to the other side. My heart was so full of awe and all I could do was state the obvious, "This is beautiful," and laugh. Then as we steered close to some of the grasses, grazing the shore before pushing off the bottom of the river away from the edge (we used long bamboo poles in this manner to steer and move forward). At this moment I felt something on my head. The mysterious object then crawled onto my shirt coming into full view - the biggest spider I have ever seen in person. The spider itself was slightly smaller than the palm of my hand and consisted of a dark brown or black color with an orange marking down its back and had chunky hairy legs. Easy to say, I lost my cool not knowing how to remove the spider without touching it. Luckily, I had two amazing fellow rafters. Abby, the closest one in front of me guided me through where the spider was located on my body (it had moved from my head to my stomach to my butt) and then used my pole to poke it off and then kill it while comically yelling, "Die spider, die!" as I jumped into the river (which I should have done in the first place). Alison, who was steering the from of the raft, stayed calm and had stopped the raft so that I was able to jump into the water. (If either one of you are reading this THANK YOU once again!) I was later informed after describing the spider to a local Thai that the spider was not poisonous, meaning I hadn't been in danger. None the less, it is a moment that will stick with me and if I ever have grandkids, they will definitely be hearing about it!
Doi Inthanon was also filled with incredible beauty and a little bit of fear (a lot less intense than the last story I just shared). The fear was from heights as I descended bamboo ladders and bridges to fully take in the crashing waters of one of the four waterfalls we saw on our hike. Fear also crept up when I eased myself into the waterfall pool and swam around. Even as I type these words I cannot quite believe that I am describing my life - a person that has taken so very few risks. And I think that this is one of the reasons I chose Thailand for studying abroad. I was tired of not taking risks and in many ways putting myself out there. As someone who can be quiet and shy I want to experience life beyond those two fronts. And you know what? It has been the most exhilarating experience. To do things you would never conceive yourself doing. To have wild stories about swimming in waterfall pools and spiders and more. The moments where my heart skips a beat can be frightening yes, but those moments, especially balanced by the peace I feel when I fully take in a waterfall or the view from a peak with fields and villages below are the moments I most cherish. Thailand is both tranquil and chaotic and for me, that's where I feel most alive.
Swimming in the waterfall pool with Elyse
The amazing view!