I am finding it easier to blog in the mornings as I get home at night and I am wiped out! I walked a total of 8.5 miles yesterday while venturing out in the city. The girls and I met for breakfast and coffee- the guest house serves what they call “Western Breakfast” Eggs, very square toast, and fruit. I have been waking up around 5 each morning and walking up and down the streets watching everyone arise and begin to open their stands and shops. Many monks are out and about around this time and I snap photos when I can. I get free coffee at my guest house (thank goodness!) but they dont serve it until 730. So I wait. We had breakfast and determined what we wanted to do for the day, Stella is great, you tell her what you want and she makes it happen! We took a bus/truck cab (not sure the specific name) up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a Theravada wat in Chiang Mai Province. It is known as the highest point in Chiang Mai. It was beautiful, once you walk in to the temple grounds the color gold encompasses everything you see. Very warm, and welcoming feeling. The pictures do not do justice.The girls and I had the opportunity to be blessed by a monk. I also did a few different type of ceremonies I was witnessing, asking the meaning behind each one. The answers were luck, good fortune, love, remembrance and gratitude. I found interesting. I walked around the temple 3 times to the right chanting a prayer that is too long to remember and in a language I was unsure of. I have so much curiosity around Buddhism. I lit a candle and kneeled in prayer, stuck a coin to a sticky wall, poured oil over a burning flame, and embraced this new found culture I was participating in. Mesmerizing. Out side of the temple it overlooks all of Chiang Mai, it was breathtaking. They have a market that surrounds the grounds and the girls and I tried Coconut milk Pancakes that were delicious. The woman had a large pan with small dips in it similar to a pan you poach eggs in, it was over a heated stone. She sprinkled them with coconut sugar and served them HOT! We got back to out taxi and headed to the Wat Umong Temple. The oldest temple in Chiang Mai which was built in 1297. This was very different from the first temple, very little tourism. We walked through caves that still get utilized today for prayer and observed the very different atmosphere this temple had compared to Doi Suthep. It is beautiful how these temples are still utilized for practice today, they hold meditation retreats and young boys attend school for Buddhism. Monks are blessing anyone who is open and seem to have this peace within them that shines out. Smiling, praying, loving one and all. I only wish I could read more of the signs as they are not in English so its difficult to fully understand the significance of each practice. I hope to learn more the more time I spend here.
About 2pm we got back to our guest house, the girls were getting ready for a cooking class and had invited me but I had plans for a solo adventure, to get to a meeting in Chiang Mai! As appealing as a cooking class sounded, and sticking with the girls so I was not alone, I knew in my heart I needed and wanted a meeting!! I was so excited to embark on this adventure. (I bet I will say that along in my blogs, embark,adventure, journey..) haha anyways. I grabbed a fresh fruit smoothie while the beautiful rain began to fall! It felt so good from the heat all day, I was laughing and smiley while standing in it watching everyone run under awnings. I went and relaxed in my room for a bit trying to figure out how to get pictures from my camera to my tablet which I still have not figured out 😦 relaxed and cooled off. Showered, and decided to start walking. I knew where I needed to go, it wasnt too far, near the night market we had been at last night. I am so amused by the people and the way of life here. Very very hard workers all along the streets. I walked passed a few schools where kids were playing, and getting let out of school with anxious parents standing across the street to pick them up. Different from home, but not much. Instead of a bunch of cars waiting in a parking lot parents lined the streets with smiles, or waited near a motor bike. Kids got their afternoon snack across the street at a food stand. Rain came again and I jumped into a cafe, ordered a plate of pad thai and watched the rain fall. Once done I grabbed a tuk tuk and lost my vape along the way. I didn’t panic, I didn’t freak, once I realized it was gone and there was nothing I could do I laughed and said “atleast I am headed to a meeting!” I found the meeting and my people. I was home. It felt beautiful. I was not treated different or special, just another addict seeking a meeting of recovery and that was fucking beautiful. (sorry for the fbomb) Passion overflowed me sitting in that meeting full of recovering addicts. Gratitude, disbelief that NA really is everywhere! I got some phone numbers, got connected with some people that are headed to Pai today which is also where I am headed. Also got a phone number to contact and set up speaking in the local treatment center on a Sunday night. They have treatment in Thailand!?! So excited to learn more about this. A man named Jay, from Vancouver BC shared his story with me that he got clean in AA in Seattle before NA was around. Who would have thought! Told me about the Freemont Hall and the 35 meetings that were there back in the day. We talked about lots while he walked me back to night market. I found live music and another fruit smoothie 😉 Just wandering, observing making small talk with other travelers. I met a couple from Germany, Sandra and Lucas, we chatted for a bit about their travels. I found myself very lost and further from the night market. Unafraid, wandering, staying aware, and exploring. Totally lost and totally okay with it. Stopped and asked a tuk tuk driver if I was close to my guest house and he laughed and showed me on my map where I was, I said 60B to home?! he said 80, I said I will walk thanks! He said okay okay 60. 🙂 Ka pun ka.
Its the morning of the 4th here, I doubt I will hear or see any fireworks, which is different. I love seeing the celebrations begin on Facebook. I will head up to Pai today and celebrate Independence in a different way, independently 😉