Last Friday after a program meeting, I hopped on a bus to Chiang Rai with a couple of good friends.
After 3 hours, we were dropped off in the middle of an unfamiliar town with only a slight idea of what we wanted to do.
Our one main goal for the day was to visit Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple. After walking around for a bit, we hopped in a taxi. Little did we know, we got in the taxi that liked to stop for everyone. What should have been a 20 minute ride ended up being an hour, which meant we got to Wat Rong Khun right as it was closing. There is a phrase in Thailand, mai pen rai. This has a similar meaning to hakuna matata; no worries, never mind, it doesn't matter, etc. Learning to embrace this phrase has been a slow process, but moments likes these are when it's the most necessary.
We made it to a few other temples closer to downtown Chiang Rai, too.
Seeing beautiful temples wasn't the only thing I got out of our quick trip to Chiang Rai. Getting out of Chiang Mai helped me realized something important; it has started to feel familiar. What comforting feeling to know that my temporary home is somewhere I like to be, and somewhere I miss when I'm gone.
Saturday, a friend and I rented a scooter to go visit a reservoir that a professor had recommended to our class.
A rush of memories came to me as I stood by this lake. Memories of my travels in Europe and the Swiss Alps over 4 years ago. Memories of past summers, spending time at lakes in the BLA. Memories of living on Green Lake this summer at camp. But in the midst of all these memories and emotions running through my mind, I felt a peaceful sense of the presence. I am in Thailand. Asia. Who would have ever thought? Even though I am dealing with culture shock and the homesickness that comes with, I am able to realize what an amazing opportunity I have been given. Here's to the first month, Thailand, and the three to come!