I left Bangkok for cooler climes and decided to make my home base in Chiang Mai for now. Of course all of this is dependent on work, housing, visa, et al. I am hell bent on securing NGO work in anti-trafficking, migration, refugee and/or Burmese social justice issues. I have applied for everything and have even had a few bites but a lot of smaller organizations have funding issues and want volunteers and interns so they don’t have to pay them. I’m not giving up just yet and decided I will take it one day at a time and network, network, network. Chiang Mai is big enough to offer all the delights of a city and small enough to really establish relations with like-minded people. While I love Bangkok and would move there in a heartbeat, I think I’ll start where it’s cheaper, easier to navigate, and I can motorbike because you know how I love maself a motorbike.
Within two weeks I got a job teaching KG.1 for a bilingual school run by Turkish businessmen. I have no idea how this happened. The school literally begged me to join them and although I said I would never teach primary school, I am now, in fact, teaching primary school. The money is good and the contract is three months. I cannot commit to more than that right now and it buys me some time to find the work I really want. So I am currently spending my work hours with 23 little Asian spirits teaching them hip-hop dance, art and English. In many ways, it’s sorta perfect. They sleep and eat for three hours of the day; the job is relatively easy; and the children really are so adorable and lovable. While I prefer to work with marginalized communities and these kids are anything but, it’s a job I’m grateful for. Girl has to eat.
Within four weeks I secured a delightful serviced apartment in a place called Plern Plern. I do not have the direct translation of this word in Thai, but the manager described it as the place one gets lost into. Like when you are reading a good book and you lose all sense of time and it doesn’t matter that you’ve lost all sense of time. Sold. The space is modern, sleek, minimalist. Wifi, flatscreen, the most comfortable bed I’ve had since I left the US, green space, industrial architecture and the complimentary use of a fat-tired bicycle. I am delighted to have found this place and stoked that it will be my home for the next few months at least. Did I mention I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the last three months?
“A person susceptible to ‘wanderlust’ is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.” ― Pico Iyer
I’ve been exploring and discovering new parts of Chiang Mai and meeting new people. From the Burmese library to forums at Chiang Mai University to salsa classes and jazz bars and the Documentary Arts Asia centre, I’m diggin’ it. The city is quaint, charming, mountainous, and the skies are about as beautiful as Big Sky Country. This place is also crawling with people from all over the world which reminds me daily that I am no longer living in a small town populated with Thais and Burmese migrants. This makes me both happy and sad depending on how you look at it.
I’m not going to lie, I really miss working in the NGO sector and being with people who are informed about the issues in this region and care to try to do something about them. I am no longer with DEPDC and I am no longer with VIA. It’s the end of an era. A new chapter awaits and I walk into it with an open mind and heart. My life has been nothing but major transition and change for the last two years. I think many people might not handle this well and I certainly have my days but I love so much about this lifestyle and I am continually blown away by the incredible experiences I continue to have. The rewards far outweigh the uncertainties. There is your comfort zone and there is everything that resides outside of that. Magic happens in this space so many people never allow for themselves. I am blessed, humbled and grateful that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and that I continue to do so on a regular basis. I highly recommend it.
While there are days I miss my friends in Montana and wonder if I should pack it up and head West, I truly believe I have so much more to learn and do here. I guess when you finally figure out what you want to do with your life, you will fight for it and refuse to take no for an answer no matter how alone you can feel in doing so.