starting with last sunday, my first real day here, i experienced my first outdoor open air market that evening near thae pae gate a part of the old city. one of the craziest things i've ever seen as there are hundreds and hundreds of vendors lining all directions of the streets and thousands of locals and tourists alike out to enjoy the delicacies such as fried snake heart, peruse all the local artisan makings, and just enjoy one another. thai's are the most openly genuine and kind society of people i've ever encountered. this is not to say they do not talk about you or laugh in my face at my horrible tonality defects when holding conversations, this is just something you're told to get used to. monday marked my first real day of orientation and my first thai language class, i've so far learned food names, how to order food, (you can tell the priorities in their society) greetings and simple conversation basics, and numbers. monday night, the other asian studies international students and some of our thai roommates attended a traditional Kantoke dinner show, at the cultural center in Chiang Mai. it was quite an experience and the dances and songs were unlike all others things i''d seen before. tuesday, we went on our buddhist meditation retreat and started the trip at wat suan dok, a temple inside the city, and we taken by song taew about 45 minutes into the forest to the international meditation center. a large compound in the most rural area i've visited thus far. we were included in the monks typical practice and routine and experienced chanting mantras, sitting, walking, standing meditation, and hatha yoga. (at 5 in the morning as we followed their morning schedule) and were incorporated into the ritual of paying alms. one of the best ways to make merit, to ensure a good placement and transition from this life to the next. the entire experience played directly to my heart and furthered my interest in the religion and it's everyday practices. wednesday was a rest day, after we returned from 12 hours of meditation and an overnight on a board mattress, yet friends and i adventured into the downtown area and attended the evening night bazaar and had dinner along the ping, the major river that runs through the city. despite utter exhaustion it was one of the best excursions thus far and i'm conveying my love of expeditions and adventures to the rest of the group. thursday and friday were composed of classes on intercultural understanding, more thai language, and preparation for our home stay next week to Mae Chaem (pronounced my jaem, ch here is always j). we leave monday morning and will be in the village through friday, located about 3 to 4 hours north of here over and behind Doi Inthanon, Thailands largest mountain. it should be quite a trip as the mountainside is populated by hilltribes and agricultural farming areas. the villages sheltered and unreachable position during the wet season has preserved a lot of it's cultural traditions and i'm anxious to see what life will actually be like. as we are only promised a mattress and depending upon the status of the family may or may not have running water or indoor toilets. nothing like adventures mm. that's all for now as i'm preparing to attend my first thai music festival outside in an area in the heart of the city with about 75 other students, we'll see how it goes. hope you are all faring the weather well.
chiles. puppies. song taews. and all things thailand.
a week ago today. it feels sometimes like an eternity and others a minute. time here definitely passes along on a different frequency than the one i'm used to. thai time as it's affectionately referred basically just gives allowances for lateness of up to 45 minutes and is a forewarning for all farangs or foreigners. there are so many little cultural aspects that i'll try to convey to you all through my continued posting but it may be too big an endeavor. it is by far the most beautiful and dirtiest place i've ever been, with the best climate hands down. the colors are one of the biggest appeals as all things, natural and not are technicolor in all respects. i appreciate that i've found. most things are also decorated with small kitschy animals or characters. something i may never get used to and hate about all my notebooks, pens, and even tissues. but in the grand scheme of things the amounting negatives don't come close to the positives, with the slight exception of my chronic "broken stomach" as they refer to it here. the food and i are attempting to become close friends but failing miserably, especially when i bite into chiles. an unfortunate experience that all the international students have experienced and thus have developed the uncanny ability to pick out when such an incident has just occurred and act accordingly with offerings of drinks and napkins. trouble really. i could go on for days about these things but i feel as though i should save some for next time.