06.19.16 a weekend in Bangkok

I cannot believe how fast our weekend in Bangkok sprung up!! I remember thinking how far away it seemed this weekend was and now it is here. As well, it is a little bittersweet because that means that I have been in Thailand longer than I have left.

Friday at 5 we got picked up and met one of our guides pat at the airport. Before our flight we were able to go to the Bangkok airways lounge, which had a small buffet with snack and some drinks. Of course, I spent my hour in the lounge trying ever single option the buffet offered while most people stuck to a small bag of popcorn, an water, and maybe a coffee.

On my first plate I grabbed what was supposed to be Thai shortbread, some sort of coconut thing, and then this blue jelly thing. I think it’s sad to say the weird blue jelly was the best thing on that plate. The two other things were absolutely horrible. The Thai shortbread tasted like straight up chalk… salty chalk. The coconut thing was covered in this salty, kind of slimy, white liquid, and after trying that I didn’t really care enough to finish any more of it. Thinking of eating it just gave me the chills. That was the worst thing I ate in Thailand.

The next plate I grabbed some sticky rice that was wrapped up in a leaf. After taking a bite and seeing something black and hard I gave up on it again. The next thing I grabbed, my friends told me was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After taking a bite I realized why they were laughing so hard. It was a spinach sandwich thing that I really don’t know why I thought was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because the sign clearly said spinach. Fortunately, this was actually delicious. It was basically spinach and artichoke dip between two slices of bread… yum!

On the airplane, although I was more than full, I was still sad to find out the program coordinators didn’t request a vegetarian meal for me but it obviously wasn’t really a big deal at all. I was able to get a cup of orange juice and a cup of coffee. Of course it is only my luck that as soon as I want coffee the plane hits massive turbulence causing hot coffee to spill all over my lap. I am not quite sure why but for some reason I was laughing and smiling. It is honestly funny that something like this happened to me because that is just my kind of luck. If anyone was going to get coffee spilled on him or her it was going to be me. I should have been a little more concerned but instead all I could do was laugh. The best part was that I still had about two sips of coffee left. The better part was I had to drink it black and I actually liked it, so maybe now I can start drinking coffee with less milk.

Once we landed in Bangkok, we got in a van and drove about 30-45 minutes into the city to our Ibis hotel. Unfortunately this one did not have our rooms ready so we had to go to another Ibis hotel in the city. Everything definitely happens for a reason because this new hotel was in a way better location than the other one, super close to tons of shops and restaurants.

Even though it was pretty late, my friends and I ventured down the street to where the night market area was so we could buy some loose pants to wear to the Grand Palace the next day since they are very strict about what you wear and leggings are not allowed.

Seeing the hustle and the bustle of the city at night was super awesome. All the lights and the sounds of taxis, and just life going on around us was great. It’s that sort of thing that makes me want to live in a big city for a couple years of my life.

On our way back, we got stuck in the inevitable rainstorm; however, since were just going to go to bed, we decided to brave the storm, and get soaked. Soaked is merely an understatement. Every piece of clothing I had on was drenched, and I was dripping. But as per usual, I was soaking wet with a smile on my face because how can you not be happy after doing so many awesome things in the course of one day?

IMG_4017The next day we were going to be touring a couple of temples. We started our day at the grand palace. Immediately when you walked in you felt as though you were walking into the Magic Kingdom in Disney world. You had to wait in a line to get in and then the whole crowd of people walked into the area where the actual temples were or went to the museum first.

Our small group did the museum first which was relatively interesting. It was all of the king’s treasures so there were things in there that were given as gifts from other countries such as swords, jewels, and bowls. As well, there was an exhibit showing the evolution of Thai money. Seeing this exhibit truly showed how arbitrary the concept of money is. I mean for crying out loud, back in the good old days they used what looked like a pebble as money. Who decides what holds value and what doesn’t?

My favorite part of the museum was the display of swords. I kind of feel like an eight year old boy saying that but they were definitely the most interesting. If there was a gift shop in the end where I could have bought a plastic version of one, I would have bought one right then and there, no hesitation.

IMG_4029After the museum we entered the temple area of the grand palace and let me tell you, grand is merely an understatement. There were multiple buildings on the actual sight with the most beautiful detailing on the sides. I really like how some of the colors used for painting the exterior was different than the colors you would see on the temples in Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai it seems as though the temples are richer in color on the exterior while in Bangkok you see more pastel colors. As well, we passed structures that were completely golden which was absolutely incredible

IMG_4052While I was taking pictures of the building, all the sudden I hear some saying excuse me miss, as best as they could. After I looked over I saw a man waving a camera. I walked over to him and asked if he wanted me to take a picture of him and his friend when he responded that he wanted to know if he could take a picture with me. After that, the other friend wanted his picture taken with me too. Even right now, a little over a week later, I am still confused as to why they wanted a picture with me. I am a pretty standard looking western person. There is nothing about me that they would have never seen before and it’s not like they wanted a picture with everyone in our group… just me.

After this, we proceeded to the main attraction of the grand palace: the emerald Buddha. I was honestly expecting to see a massive Buddha statue that was emerald, but it was just a little tiny guy, on top of a huge shrine. You can tell how sacred this Buddha is because when you go in you are not allowed to take pictures. As well, because the Buddha is so high up, they are making sure no one can have their head higher than the Buddha.

The dress code of the grand palace is also far more strict. You need to be covered from the shoulders down to the ankles and are not allowed to wear leggings. A couple girls in our group had to rent a maxi wrap skirt in order to be allowed in.

While we were walking out of the grand palace another women waved their camera and asked if I could take a photo of here. This time she actually just wanted her photo taken. So I quickly took her photo and walked over to put my shoes back on. As I was putting my shoes on she came running back to me and I assumed that the photo I took was blurry and she wanted me to take another. Nope. She came to ask if someone who appeared to be a younger sister could have his or her photo taken with me.

IMG_4176.jpgOf course I said yes, and the dad whipped out his phone and took a couple of pictures. As I said before I really am not sure why. All I can think of is that if one day I happen to be famous they will have something valuable.

After we finished up at the grand palace, we grabbed some waters because we were dripping sweat at this point and walked to Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha. It’s crazy how even though it wasn’t sunny out it was still extremely hot, and the fact we had to wear a t shirt and pants didn’t really help.

Wat Pho was also super beautiful. The buildings were painted with similar structures and designs as the Grand Palace. The reclining Buddha is absolutely incredible! It is so massive you have to wonder how it got there in the first place. It was super cool and I am happy I got to see it!

We then walked down to a dock where we were going to take a boat to the other side of the river for another temple tour. Before getting on the boat we ate at a restaurant right next door. I got stir-fried greens with rice, which was really good! I have been loving eating stir-fried kale or morning glory over some rice with a little bit of chili sauce.

Because in our initial itinerary it said we had a boat tour, I thought we were going to be riding in this super rocky boat for a while; however, fortunately and unfortunately it was a less than 3 minute ride. The fortunate part is I avoided getting boat sick, the unfortunate part is that are boat tour was kind of lame.

The temple on the other side though was nice though! We were once again fortunate to receive another blessing from a monk. I will gladly take all the blessings I can get because I need as many good vibes and good luck as possible. As you can probably imagine, this bracelet is also never coming off.

Because we had so much time after, our coordinator Pat took us to a Thai accessory market. We had about an hour to roam here; however, my friends and I weren’t really in the mood to shop so we walked until we found a coffee shop, which just so happened to be Starbucks.

I tried their double chocolate, green tea Frappuccino and the green tea, almond croissant. Oh my god was this croissant good. The Frappuccino was good too but the croissant was honestly life changing. That sounds really stupid of me to say but I will only get over how good it was once I find the equivalent in the US.

Once we got picked up, we drove back to the hotel and had the rest of the evening to do as we pleased. I took a much-needed nap until around the time I wanted to eat dinner.

For dinner, we tried a Middle Eastern food restaurant a little bit down the street from us. I simply decided to get naan bread and hummus. The meal also came with a small tray of other dipping sauces. Mixing a little bit of all the sauces with the hummus and then dipping the naan in was so good! I am not ashamed to say that when the naan ran out I continued to finish eating the rest of the hummus with my spoon.

After, we spent the rest of the evening walking around the area by the hotel, taking in the beauty of Bangkok at night.

The next morning, we were going to see one more temple, and then spend a couple hours in a mall. For them temple, we went to see the golden Buddha. We started out going through another museum and then walked up a series of stairs where the actual temple was. I loved how as soon as you entered you had to take you shoes off so for the museum and everything I got to be barefoot, which is one of my favorite things. The view from the top of the temple was my favorite part! You got to catch of glimpse of the skyline of Bangkok. There is one building that is super eye-catching (and my favorite) because toward the top there is a section that looks as though it was made out of Legos, and looks slightly out of place.

The golden Buddha itself was absolutely beautiful too! However still, my favorite part about this temple had to be the view.

Once we were all finished up here in both temples, we drove over to the mall. I have to say I was kind of upset that one of our activities was to just spend like 3 hours at a mall. As well, I’m kind of shocked part of our trip wasn’t to go to the floating markets. Yes, the mall is cool and all but I can go to a mall anywhere. The only difference was this mall was HUGE. I spent my time eating. I got to enjoy a small green tea cone from dairy queen, which was pretty cool, but otherwise being at the mall was just average.

After our time at the mall was over we headed back to the airport to board our flight back to Chiang Mai. Overall I can say I really enjoyed Bangkok! I wish our trip was a little bit better arranged so we could have done more but oh well, I guess that means I will need to go back, and that is not a bad thing at all!

I definitely prefer Chiang Mai to Bangkok because everything there is so manageable. Maybe if I spent more time in Bangkok and did more my opinion would be a little bit different, but for now, Chiang Mai is the winner. On a side note, cheers to you if you’ve actually made it this far in the post… YOU are the real mvp.

I hope you all have a wonderful day! Wishing you all peace!

Hannah

06.09.16 Second week of classes at CMU

It’s crazy to think my 2nd week of classes in Chiang Mai has just finished! It’s even crazier to think that I am now about halfway done the program. Where did the time go? Although, when I look back and think about how much I have done THIS far, I am pretty satisfied. As I write these blogs I don’t really have an outline of what I am going to write or about how long things are going to be so fair warning, this may be a long one.

Waking up Monday morning I was a little bit scared for Thai class because I hadn’t practiced too much over the weekend, so I though I forgot what I learned. It turns out after a quick refresher in the beginning of class I was good to go! It is satisfying to say that learning Thai does seem to be getting easier, although it is still very challenging. The most strange part of this class though was when we learned how to ask for blood in our soup. My professor was completely serious too. She said she prefers it with blood cause it has a much better flavor. On the other hand, I was completely nauseous and if she mentioned it one more time I would have ran to the bathroom to throw up. I think the problem was that I was thinking there was a slight chance I could have already eaten blood soup because how was I supposed to know the difference and how was I supposed to know that was even a possibility? Even writing this now and reflecting I find myself a little sick to my stomach.

For Monday’s lunch I decided to have Khaw Soy, which is basically crispy and soft noodles in a curry. The curry was amazing; the only problem was it was SO spicy. It was baffling to think that there were people adding extra heaping amounts of chili powder to it to increase the spice. I on the other had, had to go buy myself a coconut smoothie to soothe my mouth and throat so I could actually finish my meal. Both were amazing.

IMG_4104.JPGFor Buddhist Philosophy, my teacher took us to the temple Wat Suandok, which also happens to be a university specializing in Buddhist studies. It is also rather interesting because it is about half regular students and half monks studying here. While our professor was showing us around and showing us the uniforms for the regular students, I learned that the general uniform is pretty standard, the only thing that changes is the shirt buttons, pins and belt buckles students wear depending on what university they go to.

The temple was very beautiful! My favorite part was how from the parking lot there was a beautiful view of the mountains in the background, with the temple in the fore ground!

Later that day we took another venture around the old city; however, instead of going right towards Thae Pae gate, we took a left to see what we would find. We ended up turning down one of the main roads and then making a right down a smaller road when we saw a sign for a vegetarian restaurant. This ended up taking us almost through a residential area, and the vegetarian food was simply a stand in front of someone’s house. Because we wanted to sit down to eat something we continued. It was really neat seeing people come home from their days or whatever they were up to and listen to them having conversations I couldn’t understand. What a strange concept: eavesdropping but not being able to understand a word someone is saying.

Eventually we made it back out and realized we were only about a block from where we had made the right into the square. Just before we left the old city square area, we realized we had were passing a place one of our friends was telling us about with terracotta statues, so we decided to take a quick stroll around.

Apparently the grounds are being turned into a gastropub and I think a coffee bar. Once it is all finished up this place is going to be awesome! It has a wall around it and is filled with plants and statues so you completely forget about the hustle and bustle going on outside. Once we realized there wasn’t much more for us to see or do here, we continued on to the Chiang Mai gate Market where I decided to try and avocado mango smoothie and boy it was delicious!!

After, we continued strolling around new slightly different areas until we ended up back at the hotel. I love seeing this small city at night. I love the way the lights of buildings and cars reflect into the water of the moat. I love how the smells of delicious foods from street vendors are always present and you can smell the shift in different flavors as you pass down a street. I love how this city never fails to make me smile and my heart happy.

Tuesday was great because during our break in Thai class, said my entire coffee order in Thai. Now that’s a pretty cool trick or interesting fact to be able to say about yourself… I can order coffee in Thai. I was feeling pretty good about myself because I had actually learned something and was able to apply this knew knowledge.

In Buddhist philosophy today, we went to the temple Wat santi tam where we were able to meet with one of our professors monk friends, who ended up giving us a quick tour and then sat down and talked with us for about an hour.

In this temple, they have a museum room with relics of various monks and meditations masters. The museum even apparently had a relic from the Buddha himself, which is pretty amazing!

After when we were talking with the monk, it was super neat to be able to hear some of his stories, as well as learn a lot from his outlook on life. Something that is definitely going to stick with me for a while is when he said “If you are suffering or angry it is because you created it, if you are happy or feeling joy it is because you created it.” Maybe it’s silly, maybe it’s not but I think it is so true; we can interpret situations however we want and if we want to look at it positively and be happy then we can, if we want to be miserable then we can. We are in control of how we feel, no one else.

So, after that I was super blissed out, the rest of the day I took a quick walk to the market for another mango-avocado smoothie, 2 spring rolls and a samosa, which I enjoyed in the hotel while editing photos, uploading photos, writing, and most importantly, smiling. I ended up going to bed around 9:30 and falling asleep probably by 11. What a nice day!

Wednesday we had our first class cultural field trip for Thai class. Our professor took us to the Thai market that David and Pat took us to when we had to try and find various fruits. We had the morning to look around and explore and use some of our knew Thai words and phrases. Because it was hot out and we were stuck in our uniforms I was covered in sweat by the time the van came to take us back to school. I know it’s kind of disgusting to admit to but this was probably the most sweaty I has been the entire trip. It was hot and humid and I was stuck in a uniform that did not breathe one bit. I am not sure if it is fortunate or not but everyone else was the same way so I was not the only sweaty American.

Once we got back to school, I had some sticky rice and a Thai tea for lunch and then headed on up to Buddhist Philosophy class.

Today we actually stayed on campus and chatted about the Buddhist perception of time, and talked about ego. Buddhists believe that your mind has two parts: your eo and then your true self. Your ego is what prevents you from being your true self, or seeing things just as they are rather than your perception of things. After talking back and forth with the professor and the other two girls, I was taken back when the professor said I have a very low ego. I took this as a major compliment because basically the professor was saying I make little judgment on the world and simply just see things and take them in as they are. What a kind thing to say about someone.

IMG_3797In my opinion the best compliments a person can receive is when their attitude is complimented. For example, someone complimenting a person’s smile or laugh, or in this case, the way you perceive things, and your attitudes about them because at the end of the day, what else really matters.IMG_3821

Once we got back, we decided to check off walking around the entire moat and Old City walls from our bucket list. Before we started walking, we grabbed smoothies and I chose dragon fruit, which had a subtly sweet yet earthy flavor. As we were walking there were various tents with chairs set up. Once we reached a tent that had a small buffet outside with the centerpiece of two pig heads, I had to ask what was going on. Apparently in was a celebration for the city’s birthday so later there was going to be some dancing and other sort of events.

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The walk eventually took us an hour and forty minutes, which is pretty good because it did not feel that long at all! As well, it was nice to get a much better orientation and sense of where everything is. I also learned that there are a couple temples on the opposite end of square that I would love to be able to take a closer look at.

IMG_3824Once we were back at the Chiang Mai gate market it was time to eat dinner and I found myself in another mood to want to try a whole bunch of different things. First I got what was listed as vegetarian Turkish pizza. It basically came out as almost a quesadilla filled with spinach, mushrooms, onions, and something else. It was so delicious!! Then, I continued on to have another samosa and a vegetarian noodle soup. It was refreshing to finally have a soup that I knew for sure wasn’t going to have meat in it and was something I didn’t need to make a special request for.

IMG_3836After that my friends and I were finally full so we took the quick walk back to the hotel and went to bed a little bit earlier.

Today was a good day!

Thai class went well again and I actually got something else a little more interesting for lunch because the special was fried rice with shrimp! I had this with a cappuccino and then went on to our highly anticipated Buddhist Philosophy class, because we were going to be trying a device that simulates the deepest level of meditation. The device does work a little differently on everyone depending on the way his or her brain works; however, we were all excited to give it a go.

I decided to go first because I as just super curious. The device uses flashing LCD lights, which apparently trigger various functions in your brain such as creativity, calmness, alertness, and then your subconscious. The whole time my eyes were close and the lights were going I was super jittery and hyper focused. I was following the blinking lights around in my head and noticed every single change whether it was 7 spinning blinking circles, 4 spinning squares, circles moving vertically and horizontally, or a honeycomb of circles moving all at once. Even though it was supposed to make me calm and relaxed, I found myself unable to focus because there was so much happening at once and changing every so often.

After comparing results with the other girls in the class and my teacher, apparently I was the only one this happened to, everyone else had various levels of calms because I think the lights focused them. The professor said next time he would change mine up a bit so that hopefully I was able to experience the complete zen feeling.

Even after it was over and we were walking to our red truck for the way home I still felt a sense of hyper-focus. For example I noticed every single sound around me and everything I say seemed extra clear. I could hear the sound of my feet brushing against the road, every bird in the trees, every car horn, the wind in the trees, etc. I felt like I could see every single leaf on the tree and every brick on building even far away. Eventually I mellowed out a bit more but I am very happy with my experience and am excited to try it again next week.

The best part was as lights took certain patterns it triggered so many great memories that seemed super simple or like things I wouldn’t remember. It was also curious how certain people kept showing up in my memories and people who I thought would did not. The whole time I just felt super happy and even now writing this I still am.

Tomorrow for Thai class we are going back to what suan dok for a monk chat program the temple and university runs. I am excited to hear what the monk has to say and learn from their insights on life.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

06.03.16 First week of classes at Chiang Mai University

My first week of classes at Chiang Mai University has officially been completed!!! To refresh, I am studying Thai Language and Buddhist Philosophy while I am here. I have classes every weekday from 9:30-12 and then from 1 to 4 or 3:30 depending on the day. So far, it has been a bit of a challenge but great!

IMG_3891On Wednesday we were picked up from our hotel around 9:30/10 to head to the University for our orientation and campus tour. The campus is huge, but the language institute (the part of campus we are studying in) is super interesting and the staff is amazing! After needing a tramcar to give us the campus I decided that 1. I couldn’t imagine going to a school full-time this big and 2. I won’t be venturing on campus much further than the building next door where the cafeteria is because I will definitely get lost and can’t afford to miss class here.

After our tour, we were treated to a welcome lunch at a buffet near by. It was quite interesting going to a buffet instead of a traditional restaurant; however, the food was still pretty good! The only problem was that there were very few options that didn’t have meat in them. I have to say, before I came here I thought being a vegetarian was going to be more convenient for me, but it has only been the opposite this far.

Once we finished eating, we were driven back to campus to wear the uniform store was. After the lady sized me and I tried on the uniform that best fit, I was a little shocked to see I was wearing a 2XL. It’s a little bit crazy to think what would be about a medium in the United States was a 2XL here. As well, I was a little shocked to realize I had to spend 800 baht on only 2 uniforms; however, there was no way around that.

We then walked back to the language institute where we had our first lesson in Thai. The first thing we learned in Thai was how there are 5 different tones a word can have. So, the same word can potentially have 5 very different meanings if said with different inflection. At first I found this a bit difficult, but caught on sort of quickly. The hardest part about today was that you may learn a whole list of words and feel pretty good about yourself because you can pronounce them right; but if you don’t say them with the right tone it means nothing at all.

IMG_3907Once class was over we went back to our hotel where we had about an hour to put something a little bit nicer on for another complimentary meal. We were brought to this restaurant where they also did a traditional Thai music and dance show. The food was served family style and refilled on the table as soon as something was finished. Because I was the only vegetarian, I was lucky enough to have about a whole 7 dishes to myself to nibble on throughout the night.

During the very last performance by the dancers, the invited anyone from the audience who wanted to join on stage to take part in a very simple dance where you basically walk in a circle and move your hands into different positions. A couple of girls from our group, including me, got on stage to partake in the dance which ended up being super fun.

On the way back, our red truck van dropped us off near the temple Wat Chedi Laung, where there was a festival occurring. The only problem was during the ride over it begun raining and by the time the car arrived it was full on down pouring. Two other girls and I still decided to get out and go because we weren’t ready to be done exploring for the night. After getting out of the car, we quickly got onto the sidewalk where there was a tiny covering to figure out our action plan.

IMG_3911The ground had a decent covering of water, and on top of that there were large puddles everywhere so my suede material shoes were going to get ruined. Me being me, chose to take my shoes off and put them in my purse which I wrapped in a plastic bag so the wouldn’t get messed up. So yes, for the rest of the night I walked around Chiang Mai barefoot and it caused me no problems.

We decided our game plan was to run across the street to where there was a small restaurant and wait there until the rain cleared which was bound to be soon. In the time it took to cross the street I was completely soaked. Fortunately though during this time of the year in Thailand, even when you are soaking wet after the rain, even during the nighttime, you don’t get cold. As well, after about 30 minutes in the restaurant, the rain cleared.

It was also nice that we stayed because our two friends who are in the internship program were also able to meet up with us for part of the festival. We walked about two storefronts down to where the temple was.

The rain came almost as a blessing in disguise because all the lights and candles were reflecting into the newly formed puddles on the ground, which was super beautiful. The temples are beautiful at day time; however, there was something even more intriguing about being there while it was dark.

IMG_3922As well, because it was a festival, around the perimeter of the grounds there were various food vendors and a stage where traditional Thai dancing was happening. After we had our fix, we went separate ways and went back to our hotel for a good night of sleep before our first full day of classes. Even though I was completely soaked, I wouldn’t have had it any other way… the day was excellent and I had so much joy in my heart.

Thai language class this morning did nothing but frustrate me. Yes, it was very interesting to learn and I enjoyed doing it, but I could feel my brain aching at 12 when class was over. I had to seriously focus the whole time otherwise I would miss something important. The problem with that is I already struggle to focus all my attention into one thing for even a short period of time, so having to sit there for 2.5 hours using 120% of my focus was challenging. I can easily admit that this is by far the hardest class I have taken yet.

To make matters worse, all I was looking forward to after class was eating. The problem was after we were showed the big cafeteria and expected to eat there, we slowly found out that the menus were only in Thai. There was no place where I could understand anything the restaurant was serving so I didn’t even know what to try to ask for. Even after we were told what each place sort of had, none of the food workers spoke English so I was left telling the lady who showed us around to just order me whatever as long as it was vegetarian. The problem with this is that because I didn’t know what had been ordered for me, I didn’t know which meal was mine once it was ready until the lady pointed to the food and then pointed to me. I ended up eating white rice with sautéed mixed vegetables, which was pretty good.

IMG_3926The best part of lunch and my day so far was when I was able to finally try Thai Tea because it is so tasty. It comes out this orange color it is kind of milky, but also has a flavor I don’t really know how to describe. I ended up walking with this back to where the classroom where my first Buddhist Philosophy class was.

I was pretty excited for this because I had always wanted to take a class of this subject matter. It was an even bigger sigh of relief to find out my professor was American so he spoke perfect English. He is super knowledgeable about the subject because he just so happened to be a Buddhist monk for ten years. I was excited when I found out he wanted to take us around to various temples so we could have more hands on learning. I was even more excited when he told us our first little field trip was tomorrow. I absolutely love this because I will probably end up learning much more than I would in the classroom.

Once classes were over we went back to our hotel, changed out of our hot uniforms and then went to actually explore the area by the Thae Pae Gate and hopefully find dinner. Eventually we found ourselves near the German Beer Garden we ate at the first day, but instead at a little restaurant called the wall, which served some super tasty Thai food. Because by this point I was so hungry, after I devoured my meal I found myself still not completely full yet.

On the way back once we passed through the market at the Chiang Mai Gate, I stopped at the famous Pa’s smoothie shop and got a custom smoothie for 20 baht. I wasn’t sure what fruits to mix so I simply asked for something with banana. The cute old lady ended up throwing together banana, pineapple, and plum with some ice and a little bit of water to help the blender run. Once again I was baffled by the fact that for less that a dollar I had a delicious smoothie that was only made of fruit.

I was able to enjoy this for the rest of the walk until we got into the hotel. I spent the rest of the night editing my pictures (which I will finally be able to add to the posts) and writing and then went to bed.

This morning (Friday) I had a larger breakfast so I would stay full longer throughout the day, just in case lunch was going to be a struggle again. I also took two bananas from the buffet in as an emergency snack.

Fortunately though, Thai class was a little bit easier and hopefully as I catch on more it will keep becoming easier. During our break halfway through class, I treated myself to a Cappuccino to get a chance of scenery and perk me up a bit.

For lunch today, we stayed in the Language institute area where there are only about 4 stands to get something and just about all of them have some English. I found myself ordering Pad Thai again and the workers thought it was weird I didn’t want any meat cooked into it. By now you can probably guess what I am about to say next, but just in case you can’t, it was delicious! It is exciting to know that when I get home I will be able to make this for myself because I am definitely going to miss it.IMG_3122
I was excited to finish lunch because that meant it was time for Buddhist Philosophy and we would be taking a trip to a temple. The temple we visited today was about halfway up the mountain and called Wat Palad located right in the jungle. You wouldn’t really know about this one unless you were Thai or had a Thai guide because it is not visible from the street.

Before getting there, our teacher stopped for us at a lookout point on Doi Suthep because it was a super clear day outside and you could see the whole city. The view was absolutely incredibleIMG_3148

When we got to the temple area we had to drive down a tiny little dirt road to actually get there. I am so happy I decided to take this class because this was the most beautiful temple I saw so far! It is nudged right into the jungle on the mountain so not only is the architecture incredible, but the scenery is as well. The whole environment was so peaceful, yet so breathtaking.

IMG_3200After our professor gave us a tour he gave us a quick lesson and I actually feel as though I learned so much more than I would have if we sat in our closet of a classroom. After seeing our excitement, I think our professor was even more willing to take us around to show us even more of these lesser know, yet beautiful temples we wouldn’t see otherwise.

Once we finished up for the day, we were lucky enough to be given a ride back to our hotel area where we were able to finally catch some time in the sun trying to get a bit more of a tan. It is just about 6pm now and I am happy to say I have had the most wonderful first week here in Thailand!!! The country is beautiful in all aspects from the food, the people, the language, the ideals, and the culture. I cannot wait to see what the next three weeks have in store for me!

I may be changing the structure of my blog posts so it’s less of a diary entry but we shall see what actually happens. As well, I will be trying to make at least one video from my GoPro footage a week and then probably another from my weekend excursions. As well, I hope to get on a better schedule with editing my pictures so that you can actually see what I am talking about in these posts.

For most of the people reading this, Good morning and have a wonderful Friday!!! For anyone else, have a great night!!

 

Hannah

05.24.2016 an adventure awaits

IMG_3596I am excited to say that tomorrow is the day I finally set off for my highly anticipated journey: Studying abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I have been looking forward to this trip for almost a year now and I cannot believe the time has finally come and I am actually doing it.

I have chosen to blog about the experience I will be having and day-to-day life while I am there for the next month, so expect to see plenty of photos, videos, and written posts!

I chose to study abroad in Thailand because it has been a place that has always appealed to me as well as I am interested in experience something completely different and out of my comfort zone. I am interested to see what I learn from this country both in and out the classroom. Just about everything about this journey excites me and I am ready to take it on full force.

As far as my flights go, I will not actually be arriving in Chiang Mai until Friday around 11. I have four flights and about 36 hours of total travel going from Philadelphia to Boston, Boston to Doha, Doha to Bangkok, and finally Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I am probably going to regret saying this on Friday morning, but for some reason this is sort of exciting to me because it is something I have never done before and I am the type of person who will try just about anything once.

While I am there I will be taking a Thai language class and a Buddhist Philosophy class, which should be very interesting! In addition to the classes, the program has set up a variety of excursions that include going to an elephant sanctuary, a cooking class, a trip to Bangkok, trekking, and more.

The most difficult part of the process thus far was obtaining my visa. It wasn’t too all too difficult but making sure I had all the required pieces was sort of stressful for me because although I had everything I needed on the list I was convinced I messed up a piece of information, gave the wrong thing, or messed up the postage sending it there or so they could mail by passport back to me. Fortunately, my passport came back to me in a very reasonable amount of time with my visa. After getting the mail that day I had a smile that didn’t move from my face for the rest of the night because now there was nothing holding me back from going.

I am excited to keep writing and sharing my journey with you all! Feel free to leave comments below or shoot me an email to hannahmacios@hotmail.com !!

 

Hannah