After settling our feet in Chiang Mai and moving into our new homes near campus, we left town to spend four nights and five days with host families in a Northern Thai village. It was by far one of the most interesting experiences I have ever had! The village is about two hours north of Chiang Mai and the drive up was beautiful, as we headed out of the city and into rolling mountains. It was is if you could feel time slowing down. I had no idea what to expect, but was open for a new experience. One of the very first things that I realized was that we were headed into farmland - and more specifically - rice! We had the opportunity to help work in the rice fields and got to get our hands dirty! It was nice to be out working and we all had our hats on to avoid the hot sun. We also had many chances to enjoy the fruits of labor as rice is a staple served at every meal! I did not complain! The food just kept getting better and our lovely host mother (who we called 'mae' for mother) spent hours preparing our meals.
|Rice fields and rolling mountains!|
While living in the village for a week it was amazing to see how self sustaining the community was and how they all worked together. Our family had chickens which provided eggs and meat, as well as fish in large cement containers and not too far from our house - pigs! They also kept frogs, which I did not get the pleasure of trying. Mae practically spent all day in the kitchen preparing our meals, which I could not thank her enough for. I offered many times to help and she insisted otherwise. The houses are closely placed together and none of them have boundary fences therefore anyone can walk through the yard of any house. The community spirit was unlike any I had seen before. The calm, friendly demeanor of everyone made me feel like I was part of the family and it was difficult to leave.
|A hot coal stove for cooking and broom.|
|Neighbors overlooking the rice fields.|
|Sunset over the rice fields.|
|Breakfast provided after the ceremony.|
|A lesson on homemade shampoo!|
|Got to take some with me to try!|
|Cooking fish soup!|
|Mixing organic fertilizer!|
Most nights while the last preparations for dinner were taking place, I went out for a bike ride through the streets that wove through the rice fields and connected neighboring villages. It was hard to imagine at times that I was here, biking through fields surrounded by mountains, palm trees, temples, buffalo and the occasional passing of a fire pit burning. Oh, and lets not forget the swarms of bugs to pedal through! I took in every moment, even if I had to ride with my mouth closed. What a beautiful opportunity to take in Northern Thailand, to experience life a bit slower than back home with the most friendly and hospitable group of people.
At the end of our stay we made a trip to the hot springs. There were a few containers that held water too hot to touch, instead, they were reserved for boiling eggs. We all enjoyed boiled eggs for snacks while we waded in larger pools of water that was just bearable to enter. An interesting way to pass the time - especially in 90 degree weather!
|Freshly boiled eggs!|
|My host family and two roommates!|
|End to a wonderful week experiencing village life.|