Today was our first full day in Chiang Mai, and what a day it was! Chiang Mai is nicknamed “the rose of the North” which turns out to be a fitting way for the Rose Duo to start our Thailand adventure. I’m having an incredibly hard time deciding what I am most thankful for today because the vacation has started out so well, so I’m going to make it quite general.
Today I am thankful for travel.
Maybe I can make it slightly more specific by saying that I am thankful for travel that changes how I think about the world (although I don’t know that there’s any other kind). I am always amazed at how eye-opening and personally enriching experiencing other cultures is.
Today as we walked through a small hill tribe village outside of Chiang Mai, I thought about how the world is both small and incredibly large at the same time.
The village is about as different from my world as it can get; the villagers live in small huts with whole families sharing one sleeping area the size of my bathroom, they cook over an open fire, their days are spent growing their own food and weaving the clothing that they wear. Nothing about their daily life is anything like mine. But yet it is.
We saw several babies in hammock-like apparatuses, kept in constant motion by a string attached to the mothers’ big toe, swinging it back and forth as she worked. When we asked about it she said that if she stopped the baby would wake and she wouldn’t get anything done. We have baby swings and bouncy seats, they have strong toes.
I watched one woman from the Karen long neck tribe work on her weaving. Her neck was easily twice as long as mine because of the brass rings she has been wearing to stretch it since she was five years old. She worked diligently on a skirt that she was weaving that would take her close to six months to complete. It was incredible to watch, but to her it was “just another day at the office”.
We were allowed into one home and were given the grand tour that consisted of: Living area, cooking area (pot placed over small pile of wood), sleeping area (blankets on the floor, separated from living area by mosquito netting). Modest accommodations to say the least, but the family had pride of ownership.
Family is family, work is work, and home is always home, no matter where in the world you’re located. The hill tribes’ daily lives may be drastically different from mine, but the fundamentals remain the same. Oh travel, you never cease to impress me.