Monthly Archives: March 2013

I’m Alive!

Well hello again! Things have been quiet here for the past two and half weeks while I’ve been traveling through Cambodia and Vietnam with a good friend from college.  I barely have time to breathe back here in Chiang Mai before taking off tomorrow morning for another trip to the Lawa Village where I previously lived for three weeks back in February.  I’m eager to get back and see all the kids, including possibly my favorite baby in the world (she was just on the verge of being able to walk when I left.. I’m hoping she may be walking this time!)  

This trip to Pa Pae will be a welcome vacation from my vacation, which was amazing but quite the whirlwind and rather exhausting.  Trying to get through Cambodia and Vietnam in just two weeks is hard.  Most people take 3-4 weeks in each country, fully maximizing the 30 day visas.  We spent 4 days in Cambodia and 10 in Vietnam (and 1 in Bangkok where we met up.)  Amazingly, everything went pretty smoothly!  Details and pictures will be posted next week when I return from Pa Pae, but I’ll leave you with one as a teaser…

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Relaxing on an overnight cruise through Halong Bay. And yes, I’m rocking quite the flip flop tan.

Highlights included Angkor Wat (NOT overrated), Starbucks in Saigon, touring the DMZ with a former ARVN officer, Halong Bay, successfully crossing roads in Vietnam, and lots of pho and rice paper spring rolls.  As much fun as it was, I’m happy to be back in Thailand with my pad thai and only slightly frenzied traffic.  Man did this trip open my eyes to how much I love Chiang Mai and how (relatively) quiet it is. Anyways, I’m getting ahead of myself. I am alive and well and will share more soon once I’ve had time to process it all (and sort through the 700 photos I took!) 🙂

❤ J

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Scouts… dance!

Scouts... dance!

My response to “A Word a Week Photo Challenge- dancing”! During a recent “scout camp day” in Pa Pae, Thailand these girls had to perform a short routine to earn dismissal from our station and continue their hike onwards! Not your classic ballroom, but equally enjoyable to watch 🙂

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Humming along to the pace of city life

Today I looked at a calendar and realized that it’s been six weeks since I left the US of A.  Six weeks?!?  It’s funny how time has a way of passing both quickly but also leaving you with a feeling of timelessness, like I’ve been here forever.  Especially now that I’m settled back in Chiang Mai with an apartment, I actually feel like I live here in Thailand.  As I was walking home tonight, the question of the last time I operated a motor vehicle popped into my head.  Six weeks ago.  It’s also been six weeks since I’ve slept on a mattress that can be described as anything other than “extremely firm” or eaten a bowl of cold cereal.  I’m not complaining, just thinking out loud.

So now that I’m all settled, I leave in less than a week for my big trip to Cambodia and Vietnam with my good friend Anna!  We haven’t seen each other since college graduation almost two years ago, so I’m thrilled that we’re finally reuniting and in such an epic manner.  I’m taking the train down from Chiang Mai to Bangkok as she flies from Erbil, Iraq to Bangkok as well.  From there, it’s a two week whirlwind through Cambodia, across the border to Vietnam and up the coast to Hanoi!  As annoying as crowds of tourists and being on the same route as thousands of other backpackers can be, I’m looking forward to being part of that pack for a short time.  Living in Chiang Mai is great, but there’s nothing quite like the energy of being on the go and meeting other travelers along the way.  Single-serving friends met in hostel lounges can be the best.

I’m most looking forward to Angkor Wat, the views along the coast of Vietnam, and Halong Bay in the north of Vietnam.  There are sooo many places I wish we could visit, but with only two weeks we need to do some major prioritization.  And as I’m often reminded, I’ve gotta save some stops for my next trip! 🙂 It doesn’t look like I’ll be making it to Laos this time around, so someday I definitely want to come back to see Vietnam in more detail and explore Laos’ natural beauty.

In other news, it looks like I won’t be attending grad school this fall, so I’m back in the oh-so-fun (crowded) boat of twenty-something year olds who have no idea what to do with their lives.  Yay!  Maybe that Laos trip will happen sooner than I think…  Honestly, I’m bummed but not heart broken.  I’ve always had a million interests and I know that I’ll find another direction that suits me just fine.  It just 1) sucks to be rejected and 2) is frustrating to, once again, have no idea what to do next.  I’m keeping my eyes and ears open to all kinds of possibilities- maybe NGO work in another part of the world?  Revive my Espanol and head to South America?  It’s both exciting and overwhelming to have endless options yet again.  Oh well- I’ll figure it out and all will be well, I’m not panicking 🙂

Anyways, I’m not even halfway through my time here in Thailand, so I’ve got time.  I’m also trying really hard to get better at living in the moment, something that’s always been a struggle for me.  I should probably sign up for one of the many “mindfulness retreats” while I’m over here.  Speaking of which, there are so many things I want to do while I’m here!  I need to make a list and make sure I actually get to them (Chiang Rai, Mae Hon Song loop, etc.)  It’s too easy to get caught up in the day to day life of living abroad and forget to take advantage of the amazing sights outside of your “home” town.  Can’t let that happen!  (Side note: I’m open to any and all suggestions of other weekend trips from Chiang Mai from fellow travelers!)

I guess that’s about all for now.  My next full post may not be until I’m back from Vietnam on the 26th, but I’ll try to at least get some pictures up between now and then.  In the meantime,  check out the latest post on the ATMA SEVA blog that features some sweet pictures from a trip Alexis (another intern) took down to Koh Chang recently.  Some insane sunset shots!

Until next time,

J

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