Letters from Thailand 2012, part 1

June 22

My dear friends,

As you may know, Yogamour has spent much time organizing a yoga and volunteer trip to northern Thailand. Beccah and I were so fortunate to begin our journey with a group of seven enthusiastic volunteers. 

After twenty six hours of flying, Chiang Mae was the light at the end of the tunnel! This is where we spent the next couple days enjoying the graciousness of this culture. While shopping was a highlight and visiting the historic Buddhist Temple of Doi Suthep highlighted our senses, moving on to pursue our project was the inevitable goal.  

Before meeting our destination in the province of Mae Taeng, we visited the Akha Village which neighbors our rather rustic resort, The Bamboo Country Lodge. We had the honor of meeting many of the villagers including some of the children who would be attending the Baan Chang Nai school where we were volunteering. Mumu, our precious seven year old guide gave us a tour of her village and home which was situated at the highest peak in town. After hula hooping and participating in home spun games through the village, we found an evening of respite at the resort. And by the way, my fifteen year old son become the popular one with the locals because of his lovely porcelain (that would mean very white and pale ;) skin and interactive nature. 

Just want to note that it is quite the roller coaster ride into the resort but well worth experiencing the primitive beauty of the jungle. The huts are rustic, yet accommodating. We are all adjusting to the idea of of living extremely close to every aspect of nature as well as each other. Our group could not be more dynamic! We are blessed with the energy of the two fifteen year old boys, Ian and Leith, lovely Emily all the way from Arizona, our enthusiastic Jen from Connecticut, Mary and Jan who keep the humor flowing, Dr. Sissy, our resident pediatric dentist, and of course Beccah and myself. 

The children and teachers at the Baan Chang Nai school have been wonderfully receptive. Volunteers are few here...so the love was flowing! Likening to organized chaos, we created our own curriculums from math and English to arts and crafts, and physical education. The school houses eighty three children from kindergarten through sixth grade. The students, donned in tidy uniforms greet us with smiling faces at every turn. We left smiling longing for the future.

 Ken and his daughter, Patty (names I'm sure were only created to cater to their guests) spend an inordinate amount of time making our visit as comfortable as they would expect our next visit ;) Meals at the lodge are lovely and the company even better. Thai food is always fresh and wholesome and I don't think we could ever expect less (so far).  

The Thai word for elephant is "chang" of which is conveniently integrated into the name of the school. And so, Mae Taeng is the home to a busy family of elephants. After a heated day of teaching, we decided to spend the latter part of the afternoon indulging in the task of bathing the family of elephants and their extended members in a tributary off of the Ping River. Now that was worth quite a few embarrassing photographs..stay in touch for a later viewing. 

Our second day at the school was equally as rewarding and even more productive. I do believe that we've found another home bound niche half way around the world. We left the school with a promise of a community garden and another tomorrow.

So, for a moment close your eyes and imagine moving to your yoga practice surrounded by the symphony of sounds from a jungle in northern Thailand and ask yourself, "what experiences in my life have changed or shaped me in a positive way and how can I radiate this change and make a difference in the world around me?"

Hope all is well on your side of the world I look forward sharing so much more!