Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province, a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna  and was the tributary Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774 until 1939. It is located 700 km  north of Bangkok, among the highest mountains in the country. The city is along the Ping River and Chiang Mai means "new city" . it was founded in 1296.

Chiang Mai has a tropical wet and dry climate, like Singapore, tempered by the low latitude and moderate elevation, with warm to hot weather year-round. Night time conditions during the dry season can be cool and are much lower than daytime’s temperature.

Chiang Mai hosts a lot of festivals such as, Loi Krathong as known locally as Yi Peng which usually falls in November. They uses Kham Muang also known as Northern Thai or Lanna  among themselve but Central Thai is used in education and is understood by everyone.

Chiang Mai has over 300 Buddhist temples and they are called ‘wat’ in thai. One of the temple we are visiting is the Wat Pho.  It is named after a monastery in India where Buddha is believed to have lived. Prior to the temple's founding, the site was a centre of education for traditional Thai medicine, and statues were created as yoga positions. The complex underwent many changes in the next 260 years. Under King Rama III , plaques inscribed with medical texts were placed around the temple.

Adjacent to the building housing the Reclining Buddha is in a small raised garden, the centrepiece being a bodhi tree which is propagated from the original tree in India where Buddha sat while awaiting enlightenment. The temple was created as a restoration of an earlier temple on the same site, ‘Wat Phodharam’, with the work beginning in 1788. The temple was restored and extended in the reign of King Rama III, and was restored again in 1982.

There is also the
Doi Inthanon Royal Project .It  is located on the main Doi Inthanon mountain road in the Hmong village of Khun Klang. It was established in 1979 as part of His Majesty's Royal Project Foundation. It is one of many re-education projects conceived to familiarize the hilltribe people with new agricultural techniques. The research station carries out work on developing marketable crops, ranging from fruit trees to flowering plants, to help the surrounding hill tribe villages, composed chiefly of Hmong and Karen tribes.

Day 1: 
Today is an exciting day as we get to interact with people and create and impression of Thailand, a place which i have not visit before. I am quite relieved the hotel room is big but there is no wifi so that’s the only sad part for today. I am surprised that some people here know how to speak Chinese so we can at least communicate with them easily.
Today I learnt how to enjoy the Thai culture and their food for their food are mostly spicy and sour so i need to learn how to accept them. I also learn to be more careful because i dropped my earpiece today accidentally so i need to be more careful and check before i leave any place. Next, we must be caring and work as a team like helping one another out, like checking/or looking out for one another to prevent any accidents. We also need to respect people when they speak so that instructions can be carried out efficiently.We also need to be friendly to the people here and no give them a bad impression. We also need to appreciate what is given to us as it might be valuable here in Thailand. We cannot simply waste resources. Lastly we must really listen so that nothing will go wrong.

Day 2: 
Today, we started off the day at 5.30am which is good as it gives us ample time to prepare for the day ahead. We then went for breakfast which is very important as after that we went for trekking. Trekking in another country is quite an enjoyable one as you get to see the different scenery, get to see it in a village’s point of view. During the trek, many things happened. Things broke,people fell but those can be overcome if we learn to work together and help one another. Helping your buddy while you trek is also an important work as the ground is not even and some parts are slippery due to the rain. To prevent accidents, we must look out for each other and watch each other’s back. I feel that the main important point is that we should not complain when our shoes get muddy as the people working there also face the same situation so we should not complain but accept the fact this is nature. We should not show our displeasure in the local’s presence but appreciate that our shoes got a makeover.
We visited the farm too which houses many different kinds of flowers and they were all colourful and emitted a fragrant smell. These can’t be seen in Singapore as we do not have the luxury of land so it is an enriching experience for us. I took many pictures because this might be the first and last visit to this place. 
 We went to lunch and then visit a plantation of wheats and coffee beans. From here, we learnt that rice is not to be taken for granted as every grain is grew via the hard work of the farmers. The rice is nice even if it is raw. At the coffee place, we got up close to see how the powders were grind and i got a hands-on on the machine. It is no easy work as it requires a fair bit of strength to turn the handle just to get a few grain of powder. It is a fun experience as there is no such place (that i know off) in Singapore that grinds the power in this manner and allow customer to do it themselves.
We then hiked through the village to look at how the villagers live their lives and then we realised that we should not compare and that most villagers were contended and were very welcoming to strangers/guests like us. So we should work together and help one another, communicating and leave no man behind. We must also respect the locals and their culture here and not complain at every other things we dislike or feel uncomfortable with.

Day 3:
Today is the day where we meet our Thai buddies. We started off at 6.30am with breakfast and I realised the milk is really tasty. After breakfast, we went to the Yupparaj Wittayalai School where we were warmly welcomed. I was actually excited and nervous for the visit as I do not know my Thai buddies and I was scared i actually messed up while doing the project. When we all sat in the room, I kept scanning around of my buddy so that I got a heads-up on who she is and not acting flustered when we were supposed to find our buddies.

 At first I was uncomfortable to the environment and the people but after the first project, it was easier to communicate and it went quite well. During the first project, we were supposed to do the water testing and the Thai buddies were quite good in that. They know how to ask intelligent questions and some questions were so good we had to search up Google. They were friendly to strangers like us and we even had a chance to discuss our finding with their Thai teacher. I learnt that if we respect them and open up, they are actually quite willing to share their side of the story with us. We must be friendly first before to expect something in return.

Next, for the second project, they actually listened to our instructions quite well and were able to carry out the task efficiently. They made little to no mistakes and were all quite smart that they were able to solve minor problems themselves. I learnt that we need to be patient with them for things to work out.

Finally, Uncle jack have been kind enough to teach us some simple phrase in Thai so we can communicate with the local and he also teach us some thai culture so that we will not offend the local here by doing something by accident. The phrases were very very helpful and I now say “Thank you” in thai to the people and they actually understand and replied back.  It is really quite delightful to know that the locals acknowledge my attempts to speak in thai and they were helpful enough to correct me when I was wrong. This shows that practice make perfect as the more you use the thai phrases, the lesser the chance of you getting it wrong and thus communicating fluently with the Thais.

Day 4:
Today is the last activity filled day in Chiang Mai. I started off late today, waking up at 6.10am after sleeping through 3 alarms. We then visited the school, Yupparaj Wittayalai, for the last time. It was really sad that we had to leave our buddies which we had worked together quite well for a day yesterday. I feel tired this morning so I did not interact much in the morning when we came to the school. The morning was really boring as we had a talk on Lichens and the thai students bombarded the slides with words. But on the bright side, it shows the effort placed into them as they presented it for us. It’s quite interesting as the idea was really creative and original so we had a lot to learn from it. We then broke up into groups with at least 1 Thai student we do not know so we had to be patient once more to open up and start all over again. This again emphasis on the whole point of being patient and teamwork, working to accomplish a common goal.

Next, we went to the Wat Chiang Mai temple where we had to take pictures of Lichens. We also had time to roam around and finally exploring the temple ground. In the temple, there is many stuff that is more than it meets the eye, many things were unknown until the teacher told us the reasons behind each and every object. For example, the painting on the walls actually shows the story of the past and if you look carefully, they all make sense so this brings me to the next learning point which is that we should all open our eyes and be ready to learn new things as learning never ever ever stops in school. 

When we came back, we went to the Home Econs room where we were supposed to cook food. We were warmly welcomed by the kitchen staffs and students as they introduced themselves to us. After that had been done, we went to watch them cook and try it ourselves. For the start, I went to learn how the local favorite, Sliced banana and cooked coconut milk, is make. We watch them slice up the banana and soon, we ourselves were cooking too. Slicing of banana might sound easy but it requires a lot of precision and skills for it to be carried out smoothly.

After trying out all the food, the thai students generously offered to help us wash the plates and cutlery even though they don’t get to eat them. This brings me to the next learning point where we have to appreciate them as many things will not be as successful if it wasn’t for their help. 

The final activity is when we had to say goodbyes to our buddies. This might sound simple but on the inside, it is like losing a friend you had been with for the last 10 years. We exchanged gifts as we say our word of thanks and appreciation to each other. We were then allowed to take pictures with our Thai buddies and the mood was greatly lifted as fun and crazy stuff like ‘photobombing’ or ‘Camwhoring’ were introduced into the session. Many many pictures were taken and it feels like a last bonding session before we depart.

Through all this activities, there is alot of learning taking place and this trip is very memorable as there is alot of first-time for most of us. This is just make things more exciting and helpful to us as we gained more knowledge.
I am grateful for this learning opportunity as we have taken friendship to a whole new level  and we can now do overseas collaboration all thanks to the Yupparaj Wittayalai’s Staffs and students and also our School, staffs and the awesome seniors. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi there!
    This is Benz, your buddy. I'm glad to do experiments with you and Marc, you guys are so amazing. Thank you for everything you taught me and Tangtai. I like when you're caring about my questions, search it on Google. Thanks for being friendly even I hadn't talked much with you. I hope to see you again. :)