Hey readers, first and foremost I must apologize for my posts in the way they will be/have come out. Because of my misunderstanding with the blog’s interface I have stored posts without actually publishing them, so the timeline of my experience may be a little skewed. Bare with me friends, as though the posts may come out very near one another, there has been a week’s time since my last post (on preparing to go to Thailand).
I have been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the past week. During this time I have spent the night by myself in Bangkok for one night, visited the Buddhist temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, visited another cave temple residing in Chiang Dao, and finally got to hang out with elephants at the Elephant Nature Park. As one could imagine with all of these different activities, I have been extremely busy while being immersed within Thai culture. Whether it’s the food or the exploration on the streets, I have slowly begun to realize how removed I am from the familiar, Westernized culture I grew up with.
Yet amidst the difference there is still familiarity. I recognize the dishes as the ones my Vietnamese mother makes. I have a strong grasp of bartering, and can hear the tonal inflections within the Thai language just like Vietnamese. This experience, this acknowledgment of both difference and similarity is unique to my trip abroad and has been probed by everything I encounter. In many ways it’s hard to word what I am feeling, as I’m too busy sorting what I recognize and what’s new.
Of course I could go on and on about all the different things I have eaten or done in Chiang Mai. But I think the more important topic to address is the absolute bliss I’ve felt within Thailand, a country that is not always a student’s first choice when studying abroad. The culture is vibrant. The people are welcoming. The education here is unique to what many individuals get from home. I may still be in the ‘honeymoon phase’ of liking everything I’ve encountered, but my happiness stems from the conversations I have within myself as I encounter old and new things.