For those of you unfamiliar with the whirlwind my life has been this last month, I recommend reading the About section first.
I left Denver on December 2nd and after 22 hours in three different planes, I arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand on December 4th (14 hours ahead of MST). Upon arrival, I got a text from Melissa saying there was beer in my fridge, money next to it, and to enjoy my afternoon getting situated. Talk about a fantastic way to start my time in Chiang Mai!!
I spent the afternoon walking around the area to start to familiarize myself. Signs written in English are hit or miss so I had to walk really slow to figure out what each store was. I walked for maybe a square mile before heading back to my apartment as it was starting to get overwhelming.I ended the day with an hour-long Thai massage. “Get a Thai massage”, they said.” It’ll feel good”, they said. So. Painful. A) My legs and feet were pretty swollen from the 15 hour flight where I only walked around once (oops!). B. I felt like I got a beating complete with karate chopping, pushing as hard as they possibly could on knots/sore muscles, and hitting me with cupped hands. It was the furthest thing from the relaxing massage I had envisioned in my head.
The next day, I watched the kids for about 4 hours. Theo slept for most of the day and Eleanor was just as happy as can be. This is all just too good to be true, I thought. And boy, was I right! On the second day of watching them, Theo pooped through his diaper and it got all the way up his back. Eleanor had a 45 minute meltdown because her swimsuit didn’t fit just right. Welcome to nannyhood!
This week’s routine included texting Melissa whenever I woke up in the morning (usually between 9-11am) and walked over to their condo. Melissa and Travis then head over to my apartment to work for the day. While Theo sleeps, Eleanor and I swim in the pool, walk to Smoothie Blues on the corner for lunch, and color. When Theo is awake, we either play outside in the terrace area, inside of the condo, or go swimming. Melissa and Travis come home anywhere between 4:30 and 7pm. We all head out to dinner and grab some drinks. I head back to my apartment while they head to their condo. I’m not entirely sure if this is the routine we’ll continue to have next week or if it’ll change now that I’m over my jet lag.
I will watch the kids Monday-Friday and have the weekends off. On Saturday, I explored Old City by myself during the day. Old City is where all of Chiang Mai was originally located and was surrounded by a moat and walls. Chiang Mai has expanded greatly so the moat is still intact, but the walls have been torn down for the most part. I found an Irish Pub that shows NFL on Mondays and a bookstore where I can buy, sell, and trade used books. That night, Melissa and I had dinner and checked out the Pop Market. This week is Design Week in Chiang Mai so the Pop Market had local designers selling their products. The products ranged from clothing to ceramics to kitchen ware and everything in between.
Today, I went back to Old City and visited some temples. The first one, Wat Phan Tao, was pretty small (probably only be able to hold 100 people), but what made it unique was its wooden structure. The second temple I went to was Wat Chedi Luang. This is probably the most well-known temple in Chiang Mai. I chatted with a monk for about half an hour which was super interesting. The monks use that time to practice their English and to educate people on their lifestyle. You can chat with them about anything you have questions about (Thai food, culture, Buddhism, monkshood, their life goals, etc.).
Things I learned from my monk chat
- you can enter monkshood as early as 7 year olds, but you must have permission from your parents first
- there is no set time frame to be a monk. Some will be a monk for a couple of days, or a couple of months, while others will be a monk for the remainder of their lives
- typically monks only eat one meal a day, but there are some temples that allow two meals a day
- monks can have modern amenities such as cell phones and ride in taxis as long as it is for a purpose
- women are not allowed to touch a monk as it will distract them from reaching enlightenment (the ultimate goal of Buddhism). Women are not even allowed to give something directly to the monk. She must place it on the ground first, step away, and then the monk can accept it
The current plan is to stay in Chiang Mai until the end of January and then head down to Bali for the next couple of months. While in Bali, we will get scuba certified and hopefully learn to surf. There is a famous submerged Japanese shipwreck off the coast of Bali that is a favorite for scuba divers.
Life is pretty good here. I am living in the Nimman area which is known to be popular with Westerners. I have my own place complete with a weekly housekeeper (heyo!). Eleanor and Theo are good kids. Melissa and Travis are fun to hang out with. And the weather stays in the 70’s. I hope to write weekly posts to keep everyone informed on this amazing and unknown journey.