- We have spent the last four days in Chiang Mai, located in Northern Thailand. We arrived in the afternoon and spent the first evening exploring the Night Bazaar, which like most other Thai markets are filled with a huge range of goods. There is so much I see that I want to buy, but so difficult to have to carry in my backpack or ship back home. I have decided I will have to return to Southeast Asia with many empty suitcases one day with the sole mission of shopping!
We spend our first day at an all day Thai cooking class and had such a good time! Our class started out by visiting the local market where we learned about the different types of rice and other ingredients that are common in Thai dishes. Our cooking school was located on an organic farm where most of our ingredients were picked fresh. We each got to choose six different Thai dishes to learn to cook and after we got to eat what we cooked.
Yellow Curry with Chicken
Tom Yam with Shrimps
Chicken with Cashew Nuts
Pad Thai Fried Noodles
Mango with sticky rice
I am not a bad chef if I do say so myself!
We started our day with a walking tour that took us through Chiang Mai city and to many of the famous Wats. We stopped for a massage at the Women’s prison where we each received a cheap massage by inmates who are training to work once they are released. Nicole found out her masseuse had been in jail for eight years but I did not want to know such details about the woman who had her hands around my neck!
The highlight of the day for me was our “Monk Chat” in which we sat with a monk and asked him questions which served to enlighten us as well as giving him a chance to practice his English. Monks want to speak English so in order to share their faith with those who are interested in learning more about Buddhism.
Our monk’s name was Prawit and he was 25 years old. Surprisingly, Prawit parents are both Christian; however, he decided at the age of 18 to become a monk and to go to school to learn more about Buddhism. For a young guy, he was very wise and also very eager for us to teach him things as well. He told us “The past is your teacher…be a good student and learn from the teaching.” I asked him what his goal is in meditation and he told me to know his own self better and to become a stronger person in order to help others. He says that meditation leads to wisdom which is not the same as knowledge as knowledge can be used for bad or to abuse power. I completely understood and agreed with him on this point.
He said that he can choose to stop being a monk at any point in his life. He is also only allowed to eat two meals a day, each of which are brought to the wats as donations from the community. He has no choice in what he eats and eats what he is given. He spoke of the fires in California and told us he learned of it on CNN. Monks are able to watch tv, surf the web, listen to music, etc. in order to educate themselves.
We asked him the question we had been wondering for quite some time now… if we are lost on the street, can we speak to a monk and ask for directions. We were told women can speak to a monk in public; however, a woman must always be with another man in order to speak to a monk in private. Many of our questions were answered with a simple “It is possible”.
After chatting with us three girls for well over an hour, Prawit really loosened up and began to show his sense of humor. If I had more time in Chiang Mai, I would have loved to have chatted with him again.
Today Aine and I took an all day Thai massage class while Nicole went to an elephant reserve. Our teacher, A, demonstrated on another girl and then Aine and I practiced on each other which was pretty comical at times! I am super tickleish and I couldn’t tolerate lifting my arm behind my head for Aine to massage the inside of my upper arm. I literally threw her off me as I couldn’t handle the thought of being tickled!
To see more photos of Chiang Mai CLICK HERE!
Tomorrow morning we will be taking a bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong, where we will then cross the border by boat into the neighboring country of Laos. The next week is going to be filled with extreme adventures along with extremely hard conditions. We will be living in tree houses in the middle of the Laos jungle which are only accessible by zip lines. We also plan on taking a 2 day slow boat to the town of Luang Prabang. We all just started our Malaria drugs and as are prepared as we can be for our upcoming adventures! More to come again once we arrive back in civilization!