Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 21 // Holding Every Moment Sacred

This weekend in Chiang Rai marked a glorious reunion with two of my college friends, Max Honch and Emma Terry, and it could not have come at a better time.

Max Honch graduated alongside myself and has called Thailand home for the past two years teaching English in Chaing Mai. As he was planning the trip, I remember how envious I was of him when we would carpool together to our internship for a local newspaper in Tacoma. He left shortly after we graduated in May and this weekend was the first time I have seen him since. He wound up staying for an extra year to continue teaching before he moves to Bainbridge Island this August to pursue a Masters in Teaching.

Emma Terry, also known as my better half/sister/goddess/partner-in-crime/bestest friend in the world, left for India last August to become a real life gypsy and blow where the wind takes her. She landed in Auroville, India to learn organic farming, then fluttered off to Goa for a Tantric Yoga retreat, and now she stopped by Thailand to learn Thai Massage, finding many other magical places along the way.

Max arrived with his delightful girlfriend Sarah, and they both kept me laughing all night at dinner with their hilarious stories of teaching Thai students the past two years. Apparently I haven't seen a crazy group of kids until they try lighting the classroom on fire, seriously. Max, you have my utmost respect for handling that situation.

Max and Sarah both can speak, read, and write basic Thai. It's amazing what two years immersed in a new culture and some basic classes can get you, and apparently the language isn't as intimidating as I thought. I was overwhelmed by their skill and even more impressed when they ordered food for us that I have yet to try: Peanut curry, spicy mango salad, and stir fried morning glory. Oh my word, the food here can make any bad day into a good one.

Emma's arrival brought tears of joy to my eyes and I had a hard time believing I was embracing my closest sister in Thailand. 7,500 miles away from where we said goodbye 9 months ago. She arrived with her gypsy, wanderlust travel companion Laila, who's sea-foam green eyes and bejeweled auburn hair absolutely entranced me when I first met her. To call her stunning wouldn't do enough justice.

The 5 of us embarked on a whirlwind weekend, including my first motorbike riding experience, a successful search for a waterfall, the most delicious food I've yet to eat, and late nights enjoying the coup's curfew drinking beer on a kitschy rasta themed hostel deck.

Lunch on at Chiang Rai Beach

Max's tattoo: "Sticky Rice" in Thai ... with some sticky rice

Chiang Rai Beach Huts

Chiang Rai Beach Huts

Chiang Rai Beach Huts

The "Beach"

The trek to the waterfall 

Swimming with the local village kids

Reunited with my sister!!

So much happiness!

Obviously we needed to do cobra pose. 

Needless to say these people are incredibly inspiring and have brought me the pieces of home I was missing so dearly. Seeing the two of them and their counterparts helped ground me in so many ways, and reminded me how good travel and change are for your soul. If those depressing and soul crushing lows didn't happen, everyone would be out doing things like this with no second thought. But you get up again the next morning and look back on the person you were a couple days ago and see how much you've grown.

In one week I already feel like a completely different person from that girl sobbing into her pillow curled up in bed thinking I made a huge mistake because everything was so "uncomfortable." It's almost comical to look back on how badly I was freaking out my first night here. Now I'm training my brain to be filled with encouraging positive thoughts and remembering to live in the present space. I've made it my mission to do one thing every day for me to nourish my mind and my spirit. From yoga to meditation or just an extra long shower, I will spend time engaging in an activity and fully experiencing it. I will honor the present moment instead of obsessing on how many days I have left. Because when this experiences is all over, I can never get it back again.

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