Five weeks in

Five weeks ago, I arrived in Chiang Mai to make a new home and start a new job. This past month was filled with adventure, learning, joy, and a fair amount of “oh, shit” moments.

Note that time to blog is missing from this list. To catch you up, I thought it would be fun to give you a run down of my experiences by week and “theme”…

Week one: The week of unbridled enthusiasm

In a nutshell: My enthusiasm was unbridled

The moment that captures everything: Riding my bike through the old city and realizing that this is my daily reality

Overheard saying: “I am just so happy!”

Lingering questions: When am I going to clean my kitchen? Why didn’t I bring any dresses? Is my transition really going to be this easy?

Week two: Learning at every turn

In a nutshell: I started my new job, began daily Thai language classes, and figured out how to feed myself, get around, be a host, and do laundry

The moment that captures everything: That time I realized I’d washed two loads of laundry with only fabric softener…

Big takeaway: Never leave your house without a rain jacket

Lingering questions: In such an international city, how do I be intentional about connecting with local people and culture?

Week three: This is why I came here

In a nutshell: My co-workers and I headed to Mae Hong Son province for a week to meet with our community partners, hike up a mountain, and review the field activities for the Forests course

The moment that captures everything: Hanging out on the stoop of a neighbor’s house having the kids teach us how to make paper airplanes and say Thai tongue twisters late into the night— and by that I mean like 21:00

Overheard saying: “Tableu!” [hint: the Karen greeting and word for thank you. Be careful with your tone though, otherwise you are saying “crazy”]

Big takeaway: I already love my job

Week four: The week where it feels real…and lonely

In a nutshell: I had this depressing thought that if the three friends I’d made couldn’t hang out, I had no one else to even ask. Then the thought followed me through a week of really long training while my Person was without access to the Internet.

The moment that captures everything: Walking through the aisles of the farang grocery store clutching a box in my hand while repeating out loud, “I will not lose it over goldfish. I will not lose it over goldfish.” after going to the grocery store for some goldfish (there weren’t any) at the end of a hard day

Overheard saying: “I will not lose it over goldfish.”  [people nervously clear the aisle as she walks by]

Big takeaway: If you see something you want at Rimping, buy it

Week five: Sprinting the marathon

In a nutshell: In response to the week prior and my training having wrapped up, I booked my social calendar a bit too full and then hit a wall on Friday giving myself a solo weekend to reconnect and reassess my daily rhythms

Overheard saying: What are you doing tonight?

Big takeaway: Though an extravert, I do still need alone time even as—especially when— I deny myself it
Lingering questions:
How do I create balance in developing community and cultivating healthy rhythms? What self-care practices do I need to dedicate myself to? When am I going to clean my kitchen?

For more beautiful, challenging, and funny moments—or really to see a lot of pictures of pretty things and my favorite drinks (read: beer and coffee)— follow me on Instagram @staceystravels

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Scattered pieces

I flew into Chiang Mai close to midnight. The city was dark as a co-worker drove me to the house.

As we passed buildings and navigated the city streets, everything felt vaguely familiar. I recognized shops and remembered different landmarks, but couldn’t quite place them geographically. Struggling to conjure an image of the city’s grid, I held miniature puzzle pieces in my hand with little recollection of the picture on the box. Continue reading “Scattered pieces”

Reality check

Riding my bicycle through the Old City of Chiang Mai yesterday, I passed a woman also riding. She was meandering slowly down the street while an auto rickshaw driver prepared to pull out in front of her. I knew I had time to get around them before turning left at the next light.

I checked my mirror and then over my shoulder. Using my arm to signal, I swiftly moved into the other lane.

It was a simple moment. A simple decision. 

Yet as I passed, I experienced this deep revelation: I live in Thailand. Continue reading “Reality check”