After leaving Nepal, I went to Chiang Mai, Thailand. There my friend, Alison, is a Grinnell Corps Fellow teaching university-level beginner’s English at Payap University. I spent a week and a half there mostly just hanging out, doing nothing. It was great. And a good way to relax after Nepal and India (both of which, in their own ways, were quite stressful).
I had access to strong internet (a first since leaving the USA) and used it to the fullest by watching old episodes of Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. (Didn’t use it to update the blog…sorry. I thought about it, but I was just too busy hanging out and watching television).
Alison has a group of friends in Chiang Mai (expats and Thais), so together the eight of us had lunch, had dinner, got ice cream, went to a bar, looked at Wats (temples), and, generally, hung out. It was wonderful and something I really had missed.
The first night I arrived, a bunch of us went to a lantern festival (I can’t remember the name). It began with about an hour and half of monks chanting as the sun set. The chanting went along with a melody of stringed instruments, giving a surreally beautiful feel to the field where 200 people sat quietly and listened. When darkness finally arrived, we were allowed to release our lantern but only as directed. Placed in rows before we arrived, poles with wicks on top gave even more order to the calm ceremony. As the chanting ended, people working the festival walked around lighting the top of the poles. Then, at the exact moment of everyone else, we held our white cylinder lantern (same size as everyone else) above the flame. We let the flame catch the wick on the bottom of the lantern, which filled up with hot air. Then, when we couldn’t hold it down anymore against the power of the hot air pushing up, we let go. Slowly, it floated up, joining the others to become a small yellow dot in a cloudy sky filled with slowly moving yellow star-like objects. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.