Lessons from Chiang Kham

The past 4.5 months have gone by in a heartbeat. On the one hand, it feels like I have been here for no time at all, but on the other hand I feel as if I haven’t seen my family in years, and boarding that flight to Doha alone and crying in JFK was decades ago. My time teaching in Thailand has been challenging and trying, but that being said I am so glad I took this step outside my comfort zone and experienced life through a completely new lens. Before I came here, I had a dream in my head of what teaching would be like. I

First day of school

dreamed that we would be placed in a beautiful mountain town, surrounded by friendly Thai people who would welcome us with open arms and embrace us into their culture. I dreamed of an amazing four months here, and possibly staying even longer and extending my contract with my school. I hoped I would be at a school with other foreign teachers, make new friends, become attached to my town and school, and be sad to leave when the time came. If we’ve facetimed or talked since I’ve been here, you probably know that my experience in Chiang Kham has not really come close to these first dreams and expectations but I have instead grown and learned so much in a very different way.

We all know the old adage, “when you assume you make an ass out of u and me”…I wish I had taken this more to heart before coming here. It was so naïve to think just because people I know or blogs I have read have had a certain experience in Thailand meant I would too, but in the age of social media this is often the message we get! I learned very quickly after getting here, that Thailand is a huge country! While we began to meet people quickly at orientation in Bangkok, it also did not take long to learn that these people would be placed hours and hours away from us. This became real and very tangible that second week when we had to take a 12 hour bus ride from Bangkok to Chiang Kham. We are truly out in the boonies, in the middle of nowhere, at the end of the rainbow– a town that some Thai people have never even heard of!

While I have shared some visuals on my blog during my time here…I feel it’s necessary to share a few more details before wrapping up with some of the lessons I have learned here. During our time here, 2!!! foreign teachers have left our town to go home. One of them was here just over a month and a half. That’s how tough it is! Granted, teaching isn’t for everyone, but both of those gals gave it a pretty good shot and it was just too much. To be totally transparent, there were quite a few times when I thought about leaving. I remember the first time I facetimed with my parents and it was absolutely brutal. In between sobs, I told them how hard it was, how much I missed them and how small my town was. I did not feel welcome the way I had hoped, in fact on my very first day of school after getting off the overnight bus, I was given a bicycle and made to find my way home alone after only being driven from my apartment to school one time. Not to mention my brakes make the loudest squeaking noise, and the chain falls off weekly (but hey now I know how to fix a bike)! I am grateful every day for my parents support, and them encouraging me to keep going and try my best. I am so lucky to have parents who push me outside my comfort zone and encourage me (as well as my brother and sister) to be independent and pursue our dreams. Another tough time was Christmas. Christmas is without a doubt my favorite holiday at home, and not being surrounded by family, going to church, giving my family and friends gifts and spending time with loved ones falls under one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Not only was it difficult to be over 8,000 miles away but it was exacerbated by being forced, I truly mean forced, to do a Christmas dance and show for the entire school. While I have been away for holidays before, I have never been in a place with almost no comforts from home, that does not celebrate the holiday, and that made it a very strange and surreal experience. I am so grateful that I got through all of those hard times, the times when I burst into tears at school (it was only twice but still), the times I cried on my bicycle on the way home from school, and the time when I cried on facetime with my grandparents, aunts, cousins and siblings to make it to the other side of this experience even stronger and more independent than when I began…yes there have been many, many tears but we did it!

It would be remiss of me not to give a huge shout out to the gals who got me through these months in Chiang Kham. Whether it was fate, luck or just good fortune, meeting Jacqui and Chloe has been such a highlight of my time here. I remember the first time Emma and I were walking through the market and turned to each other surprised that there were other teachers just like us! Shortly after that, we met them at Mo’s and started enjoying dinner together a few times a week. Chloe is such a genuine, kind, down to earth gal who always seems to reel us in when we’re being delusional, but also full of empathy and understanding for Jacqui, Emma and I. And Jacqui is a hoot. She is hilarious, sweet, wordly and always fun to be around. The four of us have clicked so well, and dinner/Blacksmith runs with them will be one of the very few things I will miss about CK. I so look forward to hearing about all of their travels and hopefully spending some time with them back on our side of the pond (Chloe if you read this please come spend time with us all on the East Coast :)).

And Emma. I feel so extremely fortunate to have a best friend like her to come on these adventures with me, stick around when I am not doing too hot, listen to my rants and rambles, and make it through all of the tough times as well as thrive in the amazing ones. This adventure will be so hard to explain to folks back home as there really are no words to describe the roller coaster (so cliché I know) we have gone through. But, there is truly no one else in the world I think I could have done this with. I can’t wait to think back on these past months in years to come, laughing and telling stories to our loved ones about that crazy time we moved to Thailand. Thank you thank you thank you, a million times thank you, for being the best, most caring, and compassionate friend a girl could ever ask for. There is just absolutely no way I could have done this without you, and I am sooooooo excited to THRIVEEEE with you the next two months through our travels and adventures.

I’ve lost my train of thought and am definitely rambling….hmm where were we.

Oh right, I could go on and on about the Chiang Kham craziness, but I think it is important to highlight some of the things I have learned here in the 135 days since arriving. Here are the top 10 things (some serious, some funny) that I have learned while living in Chiang Kham, Phayao, Thailand:

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned by living in lil old CK

  1. Smilewhen it doubt, just smile. Being around some of the teachers here (who have never once smiled at me) made me realize how powerful smiles actually are. A img_8465smile from the mango sticky rice lady can really start my morning on the right foot!
  2. Roosters “cockadoodledoo” whenever they feel like it– 6 am, 4 pm, 10 pm, 3 am…it really does not matter the time of day, there will always be a rooster crowing outside my window here.
  3. Breathe- Sometimes random surprise things would get dropped on me at work and it would take everything in me not to react. This is where breathing came into play. Just taking a few deep breaths has helped me to relax and reflect instead of react. Or that time when my sixth graders would not stop talking for 30 minutes, I could’ve yelled at them but instead I just sat there starting at them and eventually they stopped! Would ya believe that?
  4. If you think Massachusetts drivers are bad, come to Thailand- Biking here has been similar to an extreme sport. Dodge this way, quick turn that way, watch out for that tree!!! Do we have stop signs, street lights, road rules? You bet! Does anyone follow them? Maybe 10% of the population! I really wonder if there is any type of driving course around here…
  5. Communication is key- “Teacher, I didn’t tell you about your going away party because I didn’t know if you would be free..”, typically this isn’t how things work back home. The serious lack of communication here has made me so appreciative of how much we do communicate back home with friends, in our jobs, and in our culture in general. It has also made me realize I need to be an even better communicator when I get home.
  6. Language isn’t the only way to communicate- Most of my students can only speak a little English, but that didn’t stop us from building relationships and growing together. Smiles, body language, charades and games have been such integral parts of me connecting with my students here. I have made some amazing connections with students, some of whom I’ve never had a real conversation with. This is something I will carry with me forever.
  7. Laugh at yourself- There were many days I would get home from school, or trying to get something done in my town and think “what the hell goes on”. The gals and I started a joke where we would say out loud or think to ourselves “COME ON!!”, like when one of us would find an ant infestation in our brand new granola bar stash, or the lizard that’s been living in your room for a month pokes it’s head out, or when you find multiple lizards in your room days in a row, or when our water just wouldn’t turn on. It’s fun to laugh at things instead of letting them ruin your day.
  8. It really is the little things- This one is from Chloe but rings true for all of us…whether it was a surprise package from home, a mini Christmas tree from my amazing family, a new coconut treat at the market, water deliveries on Friday, clean sheets, a hug from a student– being here has taught me that every good thing is a good thing, and to embrace it all.
  9. Never trust the “bus schedule”- This one is from Emma haha…the amount of times we have showed up to the bus station and waited an hour or more for a bus that was supposed to be there, AND the time when we were on time but our bus decided to leave early and almost strand us. This has really taught me to be go with the flow, there is so much here we don’t have control over and I’ve learned to lean back and try to be as relaxed as possible.
  10. Live in the moment- Last but certainly not least, this experience has taught me to *try* to live in the moment. There were so many times that I would find myself counting down the days, or trying to figure out when I would get home, and in those moments I would not be appreciative of where I was or the crazy and exciting experience I was currently living. It’s harder than it seems, but I really have started to make a conscious effort to enjoy the time I am in rather than worry about the future.

Through this time there have been a few teachers at my school that I am thankful for. Teacher Sweet and Teacher Jo were always there through my frustrations and confusion. They listened to me, helped me brainstorm, and were empathetic when I was feeling frustrated with the system, the school and just feeling homesick. I am grateful to have met two wonderful teachers from the Phillipines in my time here, and I know they will both continue to be great teachers here in Thailand. And Teacher Wi, my co-teacher. In the beginning, I really did not know what to think. Our language barrier was so tough to communicate through, but as time went on and I learned a little Thai and she learned a little English, we developed our own way of communicating. Sure, Thai time is still very much a thing as is the lack of calendars, but I am thankful for her patience and kindness towards me, endless translating in assemblies, and for sharing her beautiful, amazing 2nd grade class with me the past months.

Lastly, my students. It has been challenging, so challenging, but the perseverance working at this school has instilled in me is unparalleled to anything I have experienced so far in life. On the days that I felt like quitting, or not showing up to school, it was my relationships with my students that kept me there. They were the ones to welcome me with open arms, listen to me, teach me little bits of Thai here and there, and celebrate holidays with me. They are the ones who have made me feel special, and (some of) them are the ones who I will be sad to leave this weekend. The relationships I have with many of them are so different than any I have had with campers, or clients, or children I’ve babysat and I feel so special that I was able to spend time and get to know them. They’re the ones who made me feel confident that I want to continue working with children in grad school, and helped me to remember how working with children comes so naturally to me. While Chiang Kham has not been the dream I had hoped it will be, the students at this school have been more than a dream (again for the most part), and I will miss their funny nicknames and hearing them call out “Teacher Emily!!!!” from all around town. Missing my kiddos already.


Teacha Emily over & out

The Homestretch


It is very hard to believe we have made it to the homestretch– the final stage of teaching in Chiang Kham. There are exactly 11 days left until the end of the semester, and 12 days until we depart from Chiang Kham on a bus heading for Chiang Mai. Where the last 4 months went, I will never really know but here we are! In one of my last blog posts of my teaching career (yes, I do not foresee myself teaching again in the future), I’ll just break down a few of the notable things from the last month.


The past month or so since I have written has been relatively quiet. When we arrived here, I was full of energy, ready to go on an adventure every weekend. We went to Chiang Mai a few times, played with elephants, went on a few hikes, explored neighboring towns and more. But, we soon realized that that is just all there is to do here for a weekend. Taking the bus to Chiang Mai is fun, but it is a real push to only have just over 30 hours there. I became okay with staying close to Chiang Kham, riding our bikes around to new temples, trying new and local food and trying to enjoy our small town!

Quiet down time on the weekends isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I enjoy waking up to no alarm (even though I seem to be only sleeping in to 7:30 these days), taking my time to get up and eat cereal, write in my journal, stretch and relax. On weekends I go for my run in the morning, or head to our local gym which is often empty on the weekend!

  • Running: Speaking of runs, I have been running here way more than I imagined. I’ve also begun to enjoy it way more than I ever did before, it feels like a lot less of a chore here for me. On Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, I head home and unwind a little and then set out for a run on the side roads near our house. The heat has proved to be a challenge, but I feel that I’ve learned so much about my body, my limits and just really enjoyed allowing myself to clear my head. While there are a few local runners around, I do get quite a few stares although now I think people are a little more used to the sweaty, blonde, American girl running past their houses and shops. I’ve also perfected the art of determining whether or not the dog 20 feet ahead of me will be friendly, and figuring out how to best maneuver if they may not be.
The view from an evening run
  • Khao Soi: One of my favorite parts of the weekend is this cafe/restaurant place that we go to for Khao Soi. I would say we go almost every weekend at this point. Khao Soi is a Northern Thai dish made of deep-fried crispy egg noodles, boiled egg noodles, greens,shallots,lime ground chilis, fried egg, and a curry-like sauce with coconut milk. I find it pretty neat that this dish is only really served in Northern Thailand and almost not at all in Thai restaurants elsewhere. The restaurant is only open until 4 pm, so we can’t have it during the week, but it kind of makes it into a special treat! The restaurant also has really yummy raspberry smoothies which we haven’t found anywhere else in our town. This is probably one of the few dishes I will really miss when we leave Chiang Kham.

    Complete with a raspberry smoothie
  • Mo’s Cooking School: A popular tourist attraction in Thailand are the cooking schools that are located all over Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok, the Islands and more. A few months ago, our beloved Mo, the woman who has essentially become our host mother here, asked if we would like her to teach us how to cook some of our favorite meals before we leave. Mo and her husband own the small “restaurant” we eat at almost every night, and myself, Emma and our friend Chloe and Jacqui have tried almost every single thing on the menu between the 4 of us. Two of our go-tos are the green curry with tofu served with rice and pad-see-ew. We told Mo we would love to, and finally found a free day (last weekend). Mo told us to meet her at her place at 8 am so we could head to the market so at 8am we rolled up to Mos to be greeted by her and her daughter, Great. Great hopped on the back of Mo’s bike and the four of us biked together to the morning market in town. IMG_8129We walked around to the different vendors, and Mo helped us to wheel and deal for the best prices. We bought eggplant,egg tofu, basil (which had the most unbelievable smell), cauliflower, flat noodles, green curry paste and a few other miscellaneous supplies. We also got two coconuts to drink the water/juice/fresh coconut out of, and Mo’s husband chopped them open for us. We biked back to Mo’s and she told us to come back around 11 to start cooking for lunch. At 11 we headed back and Mo had a table outside for us all set up and ready to cook. First, she helped Emma to make the pad-see-ew. First, Emma cut up the fresh wide rice noodles we bought at the market and separated all the clumps. Then, she cut up the veggies according to Mo’s precise cutting instructions. We used kale and garlic I believe. Lastly, Mo turned on the wok, drizzled some oil, and cooked the noodles, kale, egg, egg tofu, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar. The soy sauce turns the noodles and egg the browish color which is signature of the dish. It cooked for just under 5 minutes and voila! Beautiful pad-see-ew!

Next it was time for me to cook the green curry. First, I cut up our veggies: eggplant           (first time I’ve had it in months!!!), more kale/collard greens, basil and cauliflower.             Oh and egg tofu! If you’re wondering what egg tofu is, it’s this very soft, white                     ingredient that is sliced and served in most of our dishes. At first, I was very unsure           of it but have really grown to love it! Mo threw a little dash of magic into the                       crockpot-like wok and then we poured in the coconut milk and let it simmer a tad               in the bottom of the pan. Then I squeezed a bit of the curry paste in and stirred it to           create the base for the dish. Next, we added the veggies and tofu, stirred a bit and               put the lid on top to let it simmer. In the end, I added a tad more coconut milk to                 make the curry a little creamier and it was perfect.

Once we finished cooking, Emma and I sat down to split and enjoy our creations for          lunch. We were very pleased with how they turned out, and I think both of us are              very much looking forward to cooking some of our favorite Thai food for our loved            ones back home.

  • Chiang Kham Walks: After our fun filled cooking school morning, we laid our yoga mats outside to soak up some sun and enjoy our books. After a while, the pavement was feeling a little too hard so we decided to get up and go for a walk. We walkedIMG_8172 down the road we usually both run on, but decided to swing a left- a way I had never been before. We continued down the road and before we knew it, we came across a “Smart Farm”. Emma’s students had gone on a field trip there earlier in the week so we thought it would be worth it to wander in and check it out. It was beautiful, full of fountains and very green! There were even bunnies, sheep, goats,and a donkey! After checking out the farm, we continued on our walk and before we knew it we ended up at a temple we had visited before that is very far from our house. Surprised at where we were and how small this town seemed once again, we made a loop back towards our apartments. We ended up walking around 5 miles! Even though this town is way too tiny for my liking, we do always seem to find little surprises hidden in the nooks and crannies.


  • Movies: Speaking of small town, sometimes we just really have to get out of here. The easiest way for us to do this is to take the bus ride to Chiang Rai for the day on the weekend. It’s 2 hours each way (on a good day), but it’s honestly worth it to get out, see a new movie, eat some different food, and spend a little time in the city. I just looked up the population of Chiang Rai and its 69,888…so take that as you will! We’ve seen quite a few movies here between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. We’ve seen Murder on the Orient Express, The Commuter, MazeRunner 3, Fifty Shades Freed, and most recently Black Panther. I LOVED Black Panther. I’m not usually very interested in Marvel movies but I really enjoyed this one. The costumes, set design, plot, it was amazing. Thanks to our friend Chloe, we’ve also gone to this delicious cafe a few times that has delicious veggie burgers and even better-avocado!!! img_8291-2

School Updates

The past few weeks at school have been very busy! I’ve had to do a bit more than usual including some weekends, but it’s just making me feel like I have 300% earned all of the adventures and travels ahead. A few highlights from Sathitwittaya School the past month…

  • Family Day: Almost immediately after getting back from New Years breakall my students began to prepare dances for Family Day. It was fun to watch my homeroom class of 2nd graders go from watching this youtube video of a pretty complex dance, to absolutely nailing it in the days leading up to Family Day. This big event was new to my school, and in classic Thai fashion I had no idea to what to expect when I showed up to school at 5 pm on Saturday evening. I was told to wear the pink polo I was given and to “look beautiful”. IMG_7973Most of the time I don’t wear any makeup here, but the few times I have the Thai teachers all get way too excited and want to take a million photos. Each class went up one by one to perform their dance in front of hundreds of family members, teachers, and other people from the community. It was a pretty neat experience, and I was really proud of my students, especially my homeroom class. Despite not getting home until close to 11 pm that night, I was grateful I got the chance to see them perform and spend some time with them outside of the classroom.
  • English Camp: The week after Family Day, I was told that we would be having an English Camp for grades 4,5 and 6 the following weekend. As much as I do love (most of) my students, the thought of coming to school all day on Saturday and Sunday was somewhat unbearable to me. After much back and forth, I was called to the principal’s office with the other English teachers (Thai and Filipino), to try to figure out when this camp would be. I told them I was not sure if I would be free on the weekend and additionally that my contract said I was required to get 2 weeks notice when I would be working on the weekend. They were certainly frustrated IMG_8099with me and the language barrier, but it was really what I needed to do to stay sane, get enough sleep and take care of myself. Eventually, my principal decided we would have camp during school on Thursday and Friday of the same week which left us with two days to prepare. I ended up having to stay late after school to do some planning, but hey, at least it wasn’t the weekend! The camp was based on Asean Themes…I had no idea what ASEAN was. Turns out, ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and includes Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei. I ended up learning a lot too! We planned different games for the students to play over the two days including relay races, vocabulary games, quizzes and more. My camp experience definitely came in handy! While it was exhausting, the students had a really fun time and it was all worth it.
  • Going Away Party: Last Friday, I was told that later that evening there would be a going away party for Teacher Jo and I. It would be at 6pm that night, and the reason I hadn’t been told yet was that my co-teacher didn’t know if I would be free *cue confused giggle and nod*.  Teacher Ni was nice enough to pick up Teacher Jo, Teacher Sweet and I, and we got to ride with her and her two kids, Bolton (5th grade) and Wida (3 years old) to the party. Teacher Ni speaks pretty good English so it is always nice and somewhat refreshing to be with her and the other foreign teachers. I’ve also become very close with her daughter, Wida, who is in my very youngest class. At first, I felt totally overwhelmed when I was teaching them
    My sweet Wida

    because they are so little, but now it is the highlight of every Monday for me. I will definitely miss my little ones. The party was at a restaurant where you go and put all raw food on your plate, and take it back to your table to cook it over a fondue-like pot system. There was no way for me to avoid meat, so I just went all in and let the other teachers put whatever they pleased on my plate. I had put a lot of tofu on my plate but after about three bites I realized it was not tofu but instead some type of cubed fish. Not for me! We had a fun evening, and I began thinking about how I will really miss some of the people here no matter how challenging it has been. One of my favorite parts of teaching has been connecting with the other teacher’s children. Three of the girls, AnAnn, Wida and Atom are all in my nursery class and they are definitely my favorites. Today Teacher Wi, my co-teacher, even told me her and AnAnn would miss me and that we would have to keep in touch on messenger.

          One of the hardest things for me here is this sense that I am not making a big                      difference. That I’ll just be another English teacher that comes through these kids              lives that they won’t remember in a year or two. Part of this frustration comes                   from the obsession with workbooks, finishing workbooks and always adhering to               the books, but it also comes from the way the schools are run which is so opposite             of  the experiences I had in schools back at home. But, the closer the time comes to             leave, the more I am coming to realize I do have some very special connections                   here in Chiang Kham, especially with my students. While I may not have been t                  the most productive or experienced English teacher in the history of Sathit, it feels            good to know I have made some tiny difference in the lives of some of  my 300+                  students. More on goodbyes and wrapping up life in Chiang Kham coming soon.



Phu Chi Fah- Part 2 (or 3??)

A few posts ago I talked about our attempted but failed trip to Phu Chi Fah. Well this time, the weekend of January 14th, we were going to make it happen no matter what.  We took the advice of the man we met at the Chiang Rai bus station (see previous post) and tried to get the bus from Thoeng Station since it was much closer and also less money.

Emma and I rode our bikes to the bus station around 11 hoping to catch the bus around 11:30 or 12. Learning from our previous lessons, we brought our bike locks and allowed ourselves some extra time to ensure that our bike rack was there and ready to use. After we got there, we locked up our bikes and sat down to wait for the bus. We sat for a while and no bus showed , so we eventually asked someone who told us it would be coming soon. This time it was late (classic Thai time), and we hopped on after clarifying that the bus would be stopping at Thoeng. It was pretty chilly that morning, we were both in leggings and our handy dandy Patagonia jackets and also brought plenty of layers for our hike.

After getting off the bus at Thoeng, I went up to the counter to ask when the next van to Phu Chi Fah would be here. He did a quick scan of the area and pointed to 15 minutes later on the clock. Wow! Had we really figured it out this time? We sat down and waited excited about the prospect of actually figuring this transportation system out. Aaaand 15 minutes later a driver arrived, however it was a songthaew driver and not the cheap van we had been promised. At this point we didn’t care, we were going to get to Phu Chi Fah and were going to pay the extra if it meant us getting there. We hopped into the songthaew for another mountainous journey but were just so excited we would finally be getting to this little mountain treasure. When we arrived in the town, our driver drove around to a few of the guesthouses to help us find the best price (how sweet!!!) until we finally settled on this little guesthouse up a rather steep hill for a good price. It was sooo chilly, and our room was even colder. We immediately layered up with our hats and gloves we had bought the last time we thought we would be hiking and headed out to get something warm to eat. We found a shop with hot chocolate and warm soup so we sat down to eat that over a beautiful but foggy view of the valley. It was a little bland but we were grateful to have some food with no trace of mystery meat in it.

There really isn’t much to do in the town of Phu Chi Fah. There is the little main drag that most of the guesthouses are off of, a few restaurant-esque places, and a ton of stalls selling Cup-o-Noodles (Thai version of course), gloves, hats and other layers for the unprepared tourists making the trip. After walking through the town very quickly, and figured we might as well hike the trail during the day before we did it in the dark for sunrise. We found a pick up truck at the bottom of the road that would take us up to the entrance point of the hike for a few baht. We laughed as we thought about how anywhere else it would absolutely not be ok to hop in the back of a strangers pick up truck to get a ride up the mountain, but in Thailand it is the norm. It was about a 10 or 15 minute drive up to the base where there were even more vendors selling Cup O Noodles and winter gear, but we were ready and decided to send it up the mountain. The hike was definitely a little steeper than I expected, but absolutely doable. Honestly, the most challenging part was that most of the hike is patches of mud which can get pretty slippery. We got up in under 30 minutes and were impressed by the view considering the hike was pretty short. It was really foggy (seems to be a trend) but beautiful nonetheless and it got us even more excited to hike up for the sunrise the next day. We headed back down to our guesthouse to warm up and pass some time before getting an early dinner.


It really was so cold– I know it’s hard to believe if you’re reading this back home… but I was wearing leggings, a long sleeve t-shirt, a sweater, my Patagonia fleece, my jacket, ski socks, a hat and hiking boots– and was COLD! I snuggled up under the fuzzy blanket provided by the guesthouse and began to write in my journal to pass some time…and what do you know, my pen, the only pen we managed to bring, ran out of ink. So classic but you really have to laugh! Emma tried to find something English on t.v. but our only option was some advertisement channel or something along those lines. We tried entertaining ourselves a bit longer but were so bored we headed back out to walk through town again. We ended up going back to the same place we had eaten lunch but this time managed to communicate that we would like vegetarian fried rice and it was delish! Lots of flavor! After, we stopped by the banana rotee man we had been eyeing all day and got 2 banana rotee to go to eat back in our beds under the warm-ish blankets.

Banana rotee ft fuzzy blankets

Our alarms went off the next morning at 3:45, and despite being wrapped in all those layers, it was pretty painful to get up out of bed. We got up, put the very last of our layers on and headed down the hill to wait for one of the trucks to bring us up to the hike. We found a few drivers waiting on the main road, so after a few minutes of just staring at each other one of the drivers told us to get in the bed of his pickup truck and we waited for more people to join us. It was close to pitch black, and we were slightly confused why we were told to be here so early, but we wouldn’t miss the sunrise for anything so we stuck to the safe side. Eventually the truck took off with us and another family and we headed up to the base where we started the hike yesterday. We took off and started our short hike up to the top. We didn’t realize, but somehow we ended up in front of all the other people hiking up and were the first ones to the top even before 5 am. Once we got up we realized how long we would be waiting for the sun to come up and were not super excited to be sitting in the cold that long. Slowly but surely more and more people came up the mountain and we got closer to sunrise (which would be around 6:30 AM). The mountain got PACKED, but despite it being so crowded we were 2 of maybe 5 farang (foreigners) at the top. Everyone else were Thai tourists. The sun finally began to come up and although we did not get much of a sunrise, the view of the surrounding mountains early in morning covered by fog was spectacular. It almost looked like islands in the sea. It was unlike anything I had ever seen in my life, and all of the trials and tribulations to get there that morning were all worth it. We took lots and lots of pictures, and lots of pictures were taken of us also. One older Thai lady grabbed my hand and handed Emma her camera and pulled me into a hug for a picture, and another group of ladies pulled us into their picture and had a full on photoshoot with us. I’m talking 10 minutes of straight smiling, posing, and being called “so sexi and beautiful” despite looking like a marshmellow. It can definitely be somewhat uncomfortable sometimes but this time it was pretty entertaining.

When Emma and I put in our request to be placed in Northern Thailand, we were hoping to be in the mountains surrounded by lots of National Parks and ample opportunities to hike. Although we are indeed veryyy far north in the middle of mountains and national parks, there is very little hiking here. Kind of a bummer since that’s a main reason we wanted to be here, but it simply isn’t a huge part of the culture here. Of course there is more hiking in the touristy areas, and there are plenty of opportunities to trek but as far as day hikes near us, there really aren’t many. Phu Chi Fah was one of the few times we were actually able to hike (although short) and the views were absolutely worth the wait.

After our hike we headed back to the small town to grab something for breakfast and wait for our songthaew driver to come back for us. He was able to take us right back to Chiang Kham which made the price a little more, but it was worth it to get back to our town in a more direct way. It took a while to shake off the chill, but we eventually defrosted and had the rest of the day to prepare (both mentally and physically) for our next week of classes.

Stay tuned for more about Life in Chiang Kham! We are almost finished teaching!!!!