Chiang Mai – easily my favorite RY destination!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on Remote Year, it’s that some weeks are rough, but some weeks aren’t. And then some weeks you’re the only one who slips and falls on the so-called sticky waterfall. Hold on through the lows, people. Life looks up (and up and up!).

This week started with a victory dance and ended with a jungle visit.

I haven’t been a lifelong Eagles fan, but I can get firmly behind a team who was dealt a tough hand, who has been misunderstood and underestimated, and who is grounded in their faith. The Super Bowl started at 6:30 on Monday morning in Chiang Mai and I admittedly got to the sports bar that was streaming it just in time for JT. I couldn’t sit down for the entire time I was there (shocker), and watching the Eagles lead most of the game and fend off a comeback at the end plus seeing all my friends at home freak out was an incredible way to start the week!!

My friend Phil here is the only person in our group from the 610, as you can tell 😂

On Wednesday morning, I went with some friends a little ways outside the city to volunteer at the Wildflower Home for women and children. The women are often victims of domestic violence and/or rejected from their tribes or communities. They stay at the home and are taught various sustainable work skills while their children are cared for, and are hence guided to a better life. I would have loved to play with the kids, but the home needed extra hands for some manual labor more than anything, so that’s what we did! We were also able to share a meal and conversation with volunteers who are there for longer periods.

The next day for my first track event of the month we had a cooking class with the Thai Akha Kitchen. It started with a market visit in the morning where we ate all kinds of crazy things, like pork that was dried out so much it looked like frayed twine, century eggs (according to legend they are soaked in horse pee underground for 100 days), and pork blood pudding. Yea I don’t really want to talk about any of that — our guide Niti who was super endearing and hilarious didn’t tell us what anything was until afterwards.

BUT, we made Khao Soi — a northern Thai curry noodle dish, Fuk Khiao squash soup (which elicited ALL the jokes), a spicy peanutty veggie dip, a simple salad of cucumbers and tomatoes, and mango sticky rice with coconut milk — my absolute favorite. We ate everything and Niti showed us pictures and told us stories of her childhood in the Akha tribe. The icing for me was getting to meet Niti’s Husky puppy!

On Friday morning I rolled out of bed to take a 5:45 taxi with 10 other friends and catch the sunrise at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, aka a gilded temple perched high above the city. It was breathtaking, the temple was markedly different than the rest I’ve seen, no filters were needed and I was so grateful to witness everything that morning with my own two eyes.

📸: @living2fish2

Then on Saturday, a couple girlfriends and I took a taxi (those red trucks that are wide open on the sides and in the back) about an hour north to the Bua Tong Waterfall. The drive was beautiful in and of itself: just fields, palm trees, other greenery and little stand-alone shops as we got further away from the city. Before we went, we knew that people climb the waterfall — which is called “sticky” because somehow your feet find traction on the rocks even as water is flowing over them.

This place is actually a National Park, albeit a tiny one, and the waterfall had 3 tiers plus a reservoir at the bottom. When I looked at it initially I thought there was no way it could work, and I did of course slip and fall right on my butt in the first 2 minutes! But we ended up climbing up and down a couple times each. It truly felt like a fairytale with butterflies everywhere, leaves falling around us and sunlight streaming through the trees. (Don’t worry Mom, there were ropes to help us climb at the steepest points!)

📸: @lmdewitt15

And Sunday! We took a van and then a truck to a far removed eco-tourism village called Mae Kampong. We relaxed in two cafes that basically felt like giant treehouses with incredible views of the surrounding jungle; these bookended a family style Thai lunch of which I ate enough for about 4 people.

We had the chance to explore the tiny town that refreshingly had no English written anywhere, speak with its leader, and learn about its resident homestays and tea/coffee growing industry. We ended the day with an hour Thai massage closer to Chiang Mai (there’s a lot of stretching and kneading involved — it feels like a sports massage and actually gave me energy).

So there you have it, a scatterbrained account of this AMAZING and jam-packed week. (I do in fact work, and budget, and stress — and it is NOT easy to balance remote work in a tropical climate). But Joey is landing here in literally just a few hours and I am absolutely jumping out of my skin!! As awesome as last week was, I have a feeling this upcoming week will top it!

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