Written By Charlie & Annie
Swaadii Ka/ Khrap! Hello families, this is Charlie and Annie coming at you with the second blog of the semester! Here’s a quick recap of the homestays outside of Chiang Mai:
Monday the 18th, we got picked up at the hostel in Chiang Mai and drove about 40 mins to the Banrai Thai Gnarm Eco Lodge. When we got there, we unloaded our stuff and met our Thai teacher for the next few days, Ajam Petchara (ajam means teacher in Thai). If there was a real life version of Edna Mode from the Incredibles, Petchara would be her, but with a more friendly personality. We had our first lesson from 10 – Noon, and then ate lunch at the lodge. From 2 to 3:30, we had a Thai culture preparation session and a brief Thai dancing class. Afterward, everyone moved in with their families and spent the rest of evening with them.
Tuesday, we had our next Thai lesson with Ajam Petchara from 9 to 10:30, and then had a lesson/ discussion on Buddhism with Ajam Penom, Petchara’s husband, for an hour. Right before lunch, we had another Thai dancing class. This time we split off into groups by gender. Boys started learning a sword dance, and the girls began learning a dance with long nails. We had most of the afternoon to ourselves to find food and explore. After dinner, everyone was picked up by Ajam Penom so we could visit the Buddhist temple near the villages. It was a major holiday in Buddhism because of the full moon, so there were many people dressed in white there. Shortly after we arrived, they started a big ceremony in the main temple, which was about two hours of praying, chanting, and meditating. After the ceremony, people walked out and then circled around this other building 3 times and then went inside to place down flowers and incense. Once that we finished that we went home for the night.
The next four days all had the same format. We would report to Thai class at 9 and then practice our gender specific dance for half an hour after, and then have the afternoons to explore until dinner. Dinner was spent with the individual families.
On Sunday, after Thai class, we had a Thai food cooking class. We cooked Pad Thai, a curry dish with chicken and potatoes, mango sticky rice, coconut soup, and a fried egg dish. It all turned out really well. Afterward, we went up the road to a waterfall called Mae Sa Falls, and swam in it for 2 hours. There were 10 different designated swimming spots for the waterfall, and so we hiked to the 10 and most far location from where we were dropped off and slowly made our way back.
Today (Monday) is our last full day here at the homestays. We had our last lesson this morning, where we finished up our speeches for the thank you party tonight. When we finished, Ajam Petchara taught us how to make Loi Kra Tong, which are made from banana tree stems, leafs, and some flowers and candles. We folded the leaves to look like lotus petals and put them on the tree stem to make lotus flowers, which are the most important flower in Buddhism. We will the light the candles and put our flowers on the Eco Lodge pond tonight at the party.
We had a wonderful experience at the homestays and Thai lessons, and although we’re sad to say goodbye, we’re also thrilled for everything ahead. That’s all for this post, hope y’all enjoyed! Tune in next time for Eva as Blogger #1 and Charlie as Blogger #2!