CMU would be the place I would call my University for 4 short weeks. You have to understand, we were there with professors from my own University, so it didn’t seem like I was a student at CMU. Even so, we got a CMU student ID and had to dress in their normal school attire, Black pants, white button up shirt and a purple tie. NO pajamas like you see back here in the states!! Even though my professors from WSU were along for the journey, we still experienced a lot of local customs and teachings. We met with the VP of the college to get his take on Thailand and South East Asia, several Buddhist monks, one from Australia and the other a native Thai.
The path to enlightenment begins with how you treat the world, so so one of the monks told us. He explained that Buddhism is not a religion, it’s a way of life! Explained the Buddhist take on 9/11 as well as killing living organisms. I thought it was interesting, because he explained how we as Americans live, killing everything in sight just to have fun or eat. We weren’t brought on this earth to kill, and your progression to killing things starts small, first a bug, then a small animal, then a large animal, and finally another human being. In retrospect, it does seem that way, that you do have a progression of doing things, not just killing things, but how you treat people. Learn more about Buddhism, because it won’t interfere with your religion, think of it more as an addition of how you live! Who knows, it may just help this World become a better place!!!
Chiang Mai University (CMU) and the International Center would be home for a little over a month. We arrived to the International Center a little later than expected. It was close to midnight by the time we made the trek from Lampang. Our bus driver even got pulled over and got a ticket trying to get us to campus! Having spent 1 year in the dorms in the US, it was a little different being at a dorm at CMU, but like most dorms it was minimal. Since we were in the International student center, I think we got a little more luxury items than most college kids at CMU.
The first night at CMU was spent walking around and learning the lay of the land. We came across a bar, that we frequented often, which played a lot of American songs. The song that always sticks out is Signs by Snoop Dogg. The bar had an interesting atmosphere, there was a pretty nice restaurant in the front and in the back next to a bar was a small room for the dance floor. It was mostly full by the time we got there so we weren’t able to find a table next to the bar, and sat close to it on the restaurant side of the place. It was our first experience with table service, and believe me, it should be in every bar and nightclub in the US! No waiting in line to get drinks and the ability to have multiple bottles of booze, soda, and ice buckets was a nice surprise. Heineken was surprisingly the beer of choice for the bar, but having only had Heineken and reluctant to try the local beers I settled for the Mekong Whiskey. All in all a great night!
Chiang Mai, for those who’ve had the experience of going would be my ultimate destination in Thailand. You can have your beaches and Bangkok, I’ll take the jewel of the North. There is so much to do in Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas, that in the 3 months I lived there, I didn’t scratch the surface! Which is said, because we went some place new every day!
On the bus – we were driving cross country, on our way to Chiang Mai. We made several stops, for about 15 minutes, but were making a major one for dinner. Our dinner destination, Lampang, and because we had learned a little Thai before we left for Thailand, it was my honor to say thank you in Thai. We pulled up to a small restaurant/bar along the river, it was hot and muggy and I just wanted to pass out. After ordering some drinks I looked up to find geckos on the ceiling. I thought, Wow this would not fly in the USA, because of health standard. This restaurant was also the first experience I had with a”local” watering hole. I thought this was great, we’re hanging out at a local hangout, and experiencing a new World of cuisine. The meal past and it came time for my speach, I know what your thinking, kaub-koon krub, but my thank you was a short 4 sentence paragraph. Which, not until after I spoke it, did I learn that I could have just read if off the a piece of paper, instead of memorizing it like I did, not to mention the restaurant owner, was British.
On My Way Home! – With the meal at hand, it was time to head to Chiang Mai and check into the International Center (IC) at Chiang Mai University. Since we were on the bus for 14 hours, along with a several hour stop in Lampang, it wasn’t until late that we arrived at the IC. We checked out our digs and headed out to the bar a couple of blocks away.
7-11 – It is amazing to see the reach of American born companies, and 7-11 is no different. The 1st night in Chiang Mai, I saw 2 within 2 blocks of each other. It was definitely a staple for junk food when the IC store was closed.