Living is southeast Asia definitely has its perks – one of those being vacation time in a neighboring country. Thailand has been on my list of places to visit for some time and I knew it would be a priority destination when I was assigned to the Philippines for Peace Corps. I had all of these great ideas in my mind: riding elephants, walking through jungles, eating delicious food. I just had to figure out how to turn these dreams into reality. I started reading numerous travel websites for Chiang Mai and quickly found out that group tours were the way to go. The four tours I chose were a Thai cooking class, a day at an elephant sanctuary, a bicycle tour of the city (which I ended up canceling because I was so tired), and a tour of Doi Inthanon National Park which has the tallest peak in Thailand. Not only was I excited about these tours but I also contacted the parents of a friend who live in Chiang Mai and they agreed to host me for my week in the city, which was awesome. I booked my flight and tours online and set off for Thailand! I arrived in on a Saturday afternoon after 25 hours of travel (I had a 14 hour layover in Singapore) completely worn out but ready to go!
*Gardens in the Singapore airport. Not too shabby.
The couple I would be staying with, the Knudtsens, picked me up from the airport and took me out for lunch where I proceeded to eat the best Pad Thai ever, washed down with a mango shake. The greatest way to start any vacation in my opinion. After I rolled myself out of the restaurant we went to their condo where I was presented with an air-conditioned room, king-size bed, and personal bathroom complete with bathtub. I almost cried with joy at my surroundings and could not wait to take advantage of these new pleasures (which I did all week). Staying with them was honestly one of the highlights of my entire trip. It was so lovely being able to sit and chat with them everyday, hearing about their past experiences, their current role as missionaries, and what they hope for in the future. They live with such intentionality and it was personally inspiring. I learned so much from them ranging from dedication to God, living a healthy lifestyle, and making several tea and dessert recipes (I will write a separate post on these delicious recipes later). They filled my life with peace and comfort and I am forever grateful.
On Sunday I had the privilege of going to church with the Knudtsens which was wonderful and weird at the same time. I love being in church and found the worship and sermon to be wonderful and just what my soul needed, it was healing and convicting at the same time. The weird part was honestly being around so many foreigners. The pastor of the church is Australian and the church members are mainly expats from other countries. Being around predominately Western people actually made me feel uncomfortable and awkward, and then unsettled because I was feeling uncomfortable in the first place. I realized that being surrounded by Filipinos is my new comfort zone and I don’t know how to act or behave when they are not present. It was such a strange feeling and a reality check for when I go home next year. Eeesh…
After church on Sunday I experienced my first touristy activity by attending the Sunday Night Market in the center of Chiang Mai which is famous for hill-tribe wares, local handicrafts, and artwork. It is a crowded market stretching over several streets and packed with booths and visitors. Thankfully I was staying with people who know the ropes so we got to the market early and I was able to leisurely browse for a while before the people started flooding in the streets. I love markets in general so I knew I would find this enjoyable and I was not wrong. Everything I saw was beautiful and I wanted to buy most things I came across, it was a good thing I only traveled with a carry-on because it limited my purchases by far. It was also great to experience the market with the Knudtsens who live there, I was able to get some good tips and suggestions which was so helpful. It was so much fun looking at the variety of crafts, spices, musicians, and the general scenery surrounding the marketplace. I had a great time!
I will continue my Thailand Adventure in my next post 🙂