We have now been in our temporary “home” of Chiang Mai for a month. It has been an absolutely wonderful time of discovery – from food to new experiences. In the last month we have gone white-water rafting, hiking in the mountains, exploring caves, and I even tried my hand at rock climbing for the first time. We have fallen in love with this city so I thought it would be a great time to share a glimpse of what has captured my eye.
I love this picture for so many reasons and it makes me smile each time I bring it up while going through our images. This captures a lot of what we now feel about Chiang Mai. It is a city of celebration and reverence to Buddhist teachings and traditions. The opportunity to capture both in a single frame was something that made my face light up as these monks walked up with their eyes wide and watched as the Loi Krathong parade rolled by us. I like seeing that each monk is looking at something else, showing that there really is a lot to see at any time here in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is full of wats (aka temples) and each one is a thing of beauty and peace. I took this picture to showcase the bells that are common in each wat, though vary greatly from place to place. This scene caught my eye because of the single ribbon wrapped around the bell front and center. It provides a striking starting point for the eye and then the line of bells guides the eye right through the picture. For me this picture reminds me immediately of the serenity you can find by walking into the walls of a wat.
Without a doubt the thing I love most about this city is the smile. I never realized how much I love to share a genuine smile with another human being, and how rare it is around the world. After being here just a couple days I have realized that I get so much of my happiness from being able to connect with another person, and a smile is such an easy way to connect. Every person I meet is ready to share a true, from the heart, smile and it gives me such joy each and every time. This woman was working in a food stall area of a farmer’s market. While I speak very little (nit noi) Thai, she lit up like this after just saying hello (sa wat dii) and asking how she was in Thai. Thailand already has a piece of my heart.
These are the steps (300 of them) up to Doi Suthep. As you arrive you will find these incredibly cute girls in traditional outfits lined up and ready to be in your photos. It is hard to walk past each of them as they beg for money in exchange for a picture so I had to stop. The colors just popped and showcase so much of what we expected of Thailand, and the country has lived up to every bit of that expectation. There is so much to read into her expression here that you can create your own story, which is why I love the final result of the image.
Standing at the base of this waterfall made for a beautiful picture that highlights just a touch of the beauty that sits just outside the city of Chiang Mai. As I stood there capturing the beauty this monk walked up the path and stood perfectly in the frame. All I had to do was press the shutter to capture a shot that highlights the peacefulness of this area. I love that all the beauty of the waterfall takes a backseat to the relatively small figure of the monk. His orange robe brings just the right amount of contract and color to the scene and gives cultural context to a waterfall that could have been anywhere in the world.
There were so many amazing things we experienced in our first month, but it would be hard to beat the Yii Pang and Loi Krathong festivals. For 3 straight nights the skies were filled with lanterns as people released their bad memories and thoughts from the previous year. It made for a mesmerizing sight as we stood on the roof of our guest house and watched them all float by. This last year has been filled with so many wonderful memories and this image captures what I love most – the peace and happiness that Betsy and I have found together. Releasing this lantern was more of a renewal for another amazing year exploring the world together.
It has been a fun first month and we are so happy you all selected this city for us to spend 6 months exploring while we work on some new projects. The people, culture, and food are conspiring together to win our heart, and are winning more each day. We’ve made some new friends and I’m making great progress learning the language. If this first month is any indication this is going to be a fun filled time in Thailand. We have a lot planned for the future, but for today it was great to be able to reflect back on a great first month.