“Toto I don’t think we are in Europe anymore.” My transition from life in Italy to Life in Northern Thailand

Buddha’s, and Temples, and Elephants… oh my.

Saying goodbye to the Cathedrals, one euro bottles of wine, ginormous pizzas, naked statues and gelato of Italy. And hello to the blazing heat, tropical rain forest, Buddha statues, squatty potties, and gloriously cheap and delicious street food of cheap football tops.

Thailand has over exceeded any expectations I have had for South East Asia. Chiang Mai remains a modern city where modern day amenities are intertwined with old temples and traditional food and houses. Everyday Monks walIMG_4672k the street for alms, and people put out food offering to the trees around their houses
to keep the nature spirits (and by default many ants) happy.

 

 

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I have had some of the most incredible and life changing cheap football shirts experiences while here. I have been able to trek through the cheap football kits tropical rain forest.

 

 

 

 

Glimpse the HimalayasIMG_4457

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bathe an Elephant and feed a baby

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Escape artist Ellie

IMG_4605   And let’s not forget bamboo rafting down a river where snakes glide effortlessly in the water and giant anacondas hang from the trees.

My absolute favorite part of Thailand so far has been my ability to stay with some of the Hilltribes in the northern Cheap England football shirts mountains. These hill tribes are a minority group in Thailand, and are typically refugees from China, Laos, Vietnam and Burma. During the Cold War, the United States asked for the assistance of these tribes while trying to keep Vietnam from falling to the communists. When The United States lost the war, the home countries began to attack the tribes and they were forced to flee to Northern Thailand. The hill tribes used to specialize in growing Opium. The north of Thailand became one of the largest producers of Opium and were a key player in the international drug trade.

Hmong Village

Hmong Village

The King of Thailand, (who is well respected and saying anything negative about him could land you in jail for life or worse) put an end to the opium production in Thailand and instead forced the hill tribes to begin flowing rice, fruits, and vegetables to sell at markets throughout the country. Even though still quite poor, the tourist industry and new agricultural skills have allowed the tribes to be more profitable then they have been in the past.

 

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Shaman blessing each of us in the Hmong Village

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Gathering Fire wood

So far, I have been lucky enough to stay at a Hmong, Karen and Ahka Village. I have learned the Cheap AC Milan football shirts valuable skills of planting rice and clearing fields. Found out which plants are edible and which NOT to touch (as I accidentally touched one that made my hand a dark green for two weeks) As well as found out the ways of the local shaman and how the village has begun to incorporate western medicine along with Shamanic rituals for healing.

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Heading off to work the fields

I have so much love for my host moms when I stayed in the Hmong and Ahka Village. Each of them were so friendly towards me even though we could not understand each other, and cooked incredible vegetarian food.

 

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In the Ahka Village

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Ahka Home

Everyone I met at the villages were happy to host us and share their culture. We were able to share are culture too (by singing John Denver of course). Soccer and traditional dances with the kids was a blast as well

Another incredible life changing experience that I am so glad to have experienced was a meditation retreat here in Thailand. It was by far the most mentally exhausting weekend in my life as we would wake up at sunrise and practice mindfulness until the sun was well below the horizon. Even though 11163745_10154617200398102_8026353043548196142_ncontrolling your mind to have no thoughts  was extraordinarily difficult, I am beyond glad to have had that experience and to have worked directly with a monk. (Shout out to Master T)

Even though the teaching was not exactly for me, I appreciate that the Monk was attempting to release us all from suffering.  I agree that there is suffering in all life, and it is the attachments to impermanent, objects, people, and feelings that cause this suffering. However, I disagree with the lifestyle that completely eliminates suffering. Suffering, I believe is what makes us human. Love and attachment is apart of our nature, and sure it will always lead to suffering, but I would rather experience extreme happiness and take the misery that accompanies it rather than not feeling the happiness in the first place. I know that

Hands Of Suffering

Hands Of Suffering

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Doi Suthep

when I go home, I will be incredibly sad that this experience abroad is over and will suffer because of that. However, I would never regret my choice abroad. I am by no means a hedonist, and think chasing pleasure is just as dangerous as the lifestyle of avoiding it. I am glad I am conscious the suffering in the world and the impermanence of all existence, but I will not let that stop me from a life full love and passion.

Novice Monk

Novice Monk

Buddhist thought an philosophy can be seen everywhere throughout Thailand, as temples and statues, and the behavior of individuals directly embody the Buddha.

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Thailand is a diverse country and many types of lifestyles can be catered to here. From the hippy mountain vibe in the north, to the Chinese kites white sand beaches of the south, Thailand is a happy place for everyone.

Hong Island

Hong Island

As I enter into my last month as a student in Chiang Mai University, I will continue to make the most of my time IMG_4996here. I have made best friends and relations with people that I know will last a life time. If you have ever had the itch to travel, come to Thailand, you will not regret it.

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