Hello my friends and family. I don’t even know if anyone reads this still but Thailand was great! It is a beautiful country with such friendly, welcoming people. We spent the first few days in Bangkok where we went to markets, MALLS, and did some shopping. Great fun for Seland (enter sarcasm), but he was a great sport about it. We ate plenty of great food including much Thai, Arabic, Indian, sushi and even a burger or two. Geoff arrived an hour early from Australia and we surprised him with a birthday cake and song. We took the train the next evening to our next destination…Chiang Mai in northwestern Thailand. It was a great ride. We had bought tickets for sleeper cars in 2nd class and it was great. We arrived in the morning and found a sweet hotel and went out to explore. Chiang Mai is a beautiful, laid back chill big town. It was a great substitution for Bangkok which has 13 million people and Chiang Mai 175,000. We rode around in tuk-tuks which are motorized bikes with some seats in the back, like a pedicab but motorized. We saw the sunset on the roof of our hotel, went on a bike tour of the surrounding area for an afternoon, stopped by some temples, went to an elephant farm where we rode elephants and saw them perform a great show, took a bamboo raft ride down a river, and hung out with tigers. Chiang Mai is also known for their Saturday and Sunday Walking Street Market. This was just around the corner from our hotel and it went on for blocks and blocks. Just little stands of clothes and little trinkets. It was an amazing experience. We had great weather almost the entire time. We met some very kind souls along the way. I was very surprised how much Thai people spoke English. We didn’t have a problem at all for not speaking the language whatsoever. We spent about a week in Chiang Mai and I’m really glad we got to spend all that time there, such a great place. We headed back by train to Bangkok to get Seland to his flight back home. We stayed at a different hotel in a completely different area of Bangkok and it was great. The vibe was great, lots of things to do and see. After Seland left, we hired a tuk-tuk driver to take us around to see some of the temples. It was our lucky day! The government was giving drivers gas that day or something strange and so we hired a driver for $1 each to just take us around all day. We saw the Lucky Buddha, the Standing Buddha, the Sitting Buddha, and one of the most moving things that has happened to me, we saw a Monk receive his colors. We were also lucky because normally on any other given day, tourists are not allowed inside the temples or to take pictures, but on this day, we were allowed. So at one of the temples a man was dedicating his life to become a monk and we were there to witness the ceremony. It was absolutely beautiful and moving and I’m so glad I was able to be there for it. We then finished up our day of touring around Bangkok with a canoe ride that went by more temples, a floating market and just through some of the more neighborhoody areas. It was an amazing trip. It went by way too fast. I would recommend visiting Thailand at least once in your life if you get the chance. I would love to go back and spend more time there sometime in the future.
I am now back in the capital where tomorrow, 40 soon to be new Peace Corps Volunteers will arrive and get ready for their swear-in ceremony on Tuesday. I do miss my village and am excited to get back and play with the kids. I also received funding to start a world map project in the school and can’t wait to get the kids to help with that. I hope all is well with everyone back home and you will be enjoying some nice warm weather soon. Take care and sending love!