Phrao, Chiang Mai, Thailand
This Fourth of July, not being in America and all, is quite different than all the others. So far, I’ve spent the day having meetings and completing tasks in an office. Not to be confused with a real office though, this one at least is surrounded by the mountains of rural Thailand and allows me to feel the breeze since there are no real windows or walls separating me from the “outside world.” Of course we have some plans, like fireworks and a home-cooked dinner with a red, white and blue cake for dessert, but there’s still an apparent lack of Bud Light and BBQ.
July 4 means my time here in Thailand is flying by and I’m finding myself begin to think about the daunting job hunt, or shall I say “life planning,” in front of me when I arrive back in the USA. It’s going to take a lot of reminders for me to continue to just enjoy where I am and not worry about what’s ahead but I’m going to remind myself as many times as it takes because this experience is too precious to me to ruin by concerning myself with the things I can’t do anything about now anyway. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it’s that worrying about what you can’t control is only a waste of energy and time. While taking initiative and choosing your path sets you in the right direction, ultimately what happens will happen. One thing always leads to another, no matter how much you stress about it.
In the meantime, I’m still soaking up the adventures. Saturday I had my first big motorbike journey, heading northwest past Phrao. James and I ended up biking all the way up and through the surrounding mountains to a town called Chiang Dao, where we explored a change of scenery for an afternoon. We weren’t impressed by the town itself but found the views and atmosphere on the outskirts to be really amazing. We made a visit to the area’s prized possession and #1 tourist trap, Chiang Dao Cave. Set up against a tall and wide mountain, it had an enormous amount of space for a cave. Walking through it and back took us about 45 min., with about a 15 min. stop in between. And that was only the lighted pathway part. There were plenty of routes you could take with a guide that would take you deeper into the cave but we were happy with just getting a glimpse at the cave from the lit walkway. The complex where the cave sat also had several, old, unique-looking temples that were probably built there because of the crazy looking mountain that was set behind it and the obviously well-adored cave. We spent a good hour or so checking out the temples and taking photos before heading back.
It was an incredible ride, with spectacular views of green foliage and a series of mountains always staring back at you. It is consistently worth the gas and time to take a ride around the region. There’s always plenty of new views to see and environments to enjoy. I always get a new perspective of where we’re living just by seeing what’s around the corner and realizing the diversity and inspiration that even a super rural area can bring to my world.
The days spent in rural, northern Thailand can be long and frankly, boring, for a girl who is used to American society and an endless amount of entertainment options but I never forget that is the very thing that makes this experience so special. I can’t think of a time spent anywhere else that I had to become accustomed to a simpler living. I think the little things like manually flushing a toilet with a bucket of water, struggling to find food to buy after dark and having large insects and other critters accompany you no matter where you go are the kind of things that show you a different side of yourself- one you never thought existed because it never needed to. I realize more now than ever the everyday comforts at home like closed doors to keep the bugs out and 24-hour drive-thru’s are not things we ever needed. We just decided we “needed them” because we could need them. Myself and those I know from home were born in a society with the luxury to create anything it wants and enough creations to develop an infinite list of “needs” that it nourishes (like going shopping for the latest fashions, getting pedicures, buying the newest gadget, eating at a restaurant at least once a week, owning the most up-to-date appliances, the list goes on…). The comparison to my upbringing and a child’s here could not be more different while I also have noticed a child’s innocent outlook and emotionally driven actions here compared to mine when I was young could not be more similar. Crazy how society molds us, isn’t it?