Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Getting Settled: Classrooms and Mountaintop Experiences

I'm over half way through the first week of the TEFL training course. Tomorrow my classmates and I will be teaching already! I am in charge of a group of ten-year-olds...this should be interesting.

There's thirteen soon-to-be English teachers all together. So far the group seems solid; the people come from all over the world. Two are from China. I have enjoyed getting to know these two young ladies, showing off my broken Chinese, and talking with them about China. Simply listening to them communicate in Mandarin, even when I don't usually understand what they're saying, is comforting. Mandarin is a language I'm familiar with; Thai, on the other hand, is a whole different animal--eight tones.

Outside of class, I've been doing a bit of exploring. I've noticed tourists are very much a part of the daily scene here in Chiang Mai. Generally speaking, there are two types of tourists. The first type are the hardcore, completely outfitted, athletic, road bikers with their camelbacks, fine-wheeled bicycles, aerodynamic sunglasses and helmets, and short, friendly nods of the head. The second type are the slightly overweight, loud, lotion-lathered, camera holding, aimlessly wondering money spenders out to experience Thailand in their flip-flops and tank tops.

I aspire to fall inline with the former category, although I don't own a bike. Perhaps I am in a division of my own as nobody chooses to run in this 100 degree weather. At least it gets down in the 80s at 6:30 am.

As much as I could complain about running in the miserable temperature, it really has opened up perfect opportunities to see more of Chiang Mai. Since I'm on a tight budget, my feet are the best way to get around. After running up the winding mountain road for a while, I discovered some rocky trails. Being careful not to get lost, I followed the pathway farther up the mountain. Eventually, I came to a clearing that overlooked the city. I really should go back there with my camera, the view was worth capturing.

It's at moments like those, when I am allowed to detach myself from the roaring city noise and look from a distance, that something inside of me feels more connected than ever. The structure of the city has no rhyme or reason, it's simply growing outward. Yet, from a distance, the scene has order to it and makes sense as a whole. The streets, the buildings, the colors, the textures--everything looks better from far away. The visual of the city is like an Instagram filter with the morning dew and early sunrise.

I later realized the clearing was designated to Buddha. Behind me, I noticed a large pile of dirt with tiny, colorful statues of Buddha placed at random and monks' cloak material tied to surrounding trees. The location really was an ideal place of worship. There's something about mountains, and feeling of being isolated yet so completely surrounded by nature, that prompts the human soul to reflect on realities beyond himself.

Another highlight of the run was, of course, the descent. I felt like I was flying. Although the pounding probably wasn't ideal for my knees and shins, I soaked in the feeling of going fast so effortlessly. I didn't realize how long I had been running up until I was able to go down.

You might say I was high on endorphines that day. It's experiences like this that make me thankful to be a runner.

Until next time,

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