If I had to use one word to describe this past week it would be ‘hectic’. It sounds stupid, considering I’m on this exciting adventure but I was so relieved when Friday afternoon rolled around – something I hadn’t felt for a very long time (after all, everyday was a holiday for a while).
It’s been exactly a week since I landed in Chiang Mai and I am enjoying every second of it.
However I’d be lying if I said it has been all giggles and joy – from putting up with this unbearable heat and humidity (reaching 40 degrees this week!), the shock of being back in a classroom with a teacher and then having to teach my own class at the end of the week there has been some moments where I had to remind myself that being here was better than being anywhere else!
Nonetheless, I do feel that I am living a charmed life right now and I wake up everyday grateful for the opportunities that have allowed me to be here. I love my TEFL course; I love all the activity around me; I love finding those places that make you feel at home and most of all I love all the people I’ve met so far.
This weekend I was lucky to have the chance to visit Meo Hill, a local Hmong tribe village and the famous Doi Su Thep temple. It was just what I needed to clear my mind of the craziness that was Friday’s teaching lesson!
Be warned: the ride to Meo Hill and Doi Su Thep is not a smooth one – there are many curves and windy roads so if you have a tendency to get motion sickness, be prepared. It’s well worth it though as Meo Hill is, as the name would suggest, on a very high hill so not only do you get stunning views of the mountains and wider Chiang Mai, you also get a lovely breeze while drinking your organic locally grown coffee which is a great relief from the humidity of the city.
The Meo Hill tribe traditionally grew poppies but once the government started phasing out poppy farming they taught the Hmong people how to grow food instead including coffee and strawberries. You can purchase all this food from the people themselves at the touristy part of the village, which is dotted with stalls selling dried fruit, local crafts and other souvenirs. They also have an amazing flower garden which is great for some selfies!
Once you’re done there you can make your way to Doi Su Thep – literally ‘mountain Su Thep’, Su Thep being the hermit who lived on the doi (mountain). As anyone who has visited will tell you, Doi Su Thep temple is beautiful – I personally love details in architecture and there were so many details here that I was in heaven. It’s a slice of paradise and peace from the daily commotion so if you need some time out from it all, head over to this place.
Inside the temple, remember to walk clockwise and take your time to peruse. Doi Su Thep temple is famous as it houses two relics of Buddha which were transported to Thailand from Sri Lanka hundreds of years ago.
There are so many beautiful altars and shrines to admire, as well as a DIY fortune teller, regular sermons from monks and an altar to make wishes of peace, happiness and prosperity for yourself and loved ones. Also be sure make a donation to assist in the regular maintenance of the temple – there are donation boxes everywhere so don’t leave without doing so.
A spontaneous trip to ‘Grand Canyon’ about 15km outside of the city was the perfect way to wrap up Saturday afternoon – what seems to be an old quarry has now been filled with rainwater and is the ideal way to cool off in this heat. Frequented by a mix of both locals and tourists this is still quite a secret little spot that will soon become a ‘must do’ in tourist guidebooks.
I am looking forward to week two with both excitement and dread – excited as it means I have another week of exploring to do but dreading it as we’re focusing on grammar in class (yawn!). The biggest challenge though? Finding clothes that are appropriate to wear while teaching that won’t leave me drenched in sweat – something that will be a huge problem once we move to public schools with no AC!
Stay tuned for week two updates!