An Unforgettable Road Trip Through The Amazing Northern Thailand
Author: Danielle Butterly
When I’m not teaching in Thailand, I’m adventuring. Weekends or holidays, you can always find me on a bus, motorbike, car, plane – whatever – exploring somewhere new. Thai schools have this really cool thing about them where you actually don’t teach that much. I’m just kidding. Well, kinda! You do teach, but there are just a lot of holidays that you have off. So, this past week, I had 4 full days off! What to do in this time?! A good relationship with one of my Thai teachers Pkie lead to a fantastic 5-day camping road trip around the amazing Northern Thailand that I almost can’t even believe I had been blessed with. An experience like this is almost too hard to fully describe in a blog and probably deserves something more like a book, but I will try anyways.
The people that were with me on the road trip through the amazing Northern Thailand included Olivia who is one of the other two foreign teachers at my school, my best friend here, Pkie, who is basically my Thai mother here, and two of Pkie’s friends, Pippin and Honey (those are their Thai nicknames). We had quite the crew! Pippin and Honey could speak very little English, so it was a rather interesting trip being in a car with them for 5 days. Honey was our main cook on the trip, Pippin the navigator, and Pkie the driver. Olivia and I just tried to help out whenever we could. The whole thing was hilarious because while camping, the three Thai ladies would wake up at like 4:30 AM – while I lay in my tent trying to sleep at least until the sunrise, be speaking Thai and boiling water on the fire in a pot, and generally making me feel like I was either Aragorn or Legolas from Lord of the Rings.
I mean, we were in the forest (a mysterious forest located in the amazing Northern Thailand!), their names are Pippin and Honey (like, come on!), they are short Thai ladies speaking Thai, banging pots around a fire, not wearing shoes; they were totally the hobbits, and I was Aragorn (or Legolas), waiting for my coffee to be served to me as I emerge gracefully from my tent exclaiming what a wonderful morning it is for an adventure! It was seriously too funny.
When Pkie asked me to come to the Hill Tribes in the amazing Northern Thailand with her, I honestly didn’t think too much about where we would stay, so when I got in the car to leave the morning of and saw a bunch of camping gear in the truck bed I had to ask, “Pkie, are we camping?!”. Yes. She had failed to tell me that we would be camping for the next 5 days! Upon seeing our camping spot on the top of a mountain that literally felt like you were floating on top of the world, my original agitation about surprise camping turned into utter excitement and gratitude for where I was. It was absolutely, breathtakingly, extraordinarily (are there any more adjectives that I can throw in there to describe the amazing Northern Thailand?) beautiful. Colossal mountains surrounded us, watching the sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset every day and it was just fantastic. It was like we had placed our tents right in the center of a postcard. We soaked in all the beautiful elements that were in abundance across the amazing Northern Thailand.
Our day with the Hill Tribe was just as amazing as the views presented by the exquisitely amazing Northern Thailand. These kids had never seen white people before and I had never been so scrutinized. They were as intrigued with my face as they were frightened. It was hilarious and astonishing all at the same time having these children look at me like I was an alien. They were very eager to learn English as well and we did a lot of games and songs with them. They were so cute and shy at first, but quickly warmed up to us and were soon dancing with and jumping all over us. The rest of the road trip through the amazing Northern Thailand consisted of a trip to the White Temple in Chiang Rai, hot springs, a Ganesha museum, art galleries in Chiang Mai, riding for hours in the truck bed after refusing to be scrunched in the back seat for any longer, and of course a lot of singing in the car!
The Take Home Message
The take home message that I got from this road trip through the beautiful stretches of the amazing Northern Thailand was, well a lot of things, but one of them was that road trips in Thailand, especially the amazing northern Thailand, are the same as they are in the States – filled with a lot of stopping for people to go to the bathroom, for snacks and gas, and for incredible sights to take pictures of. This is the main thing that I like about traveling – the part about it being the same. It takes away any hint of division or stereotypes one may have about different cultures.
You realize and understand that we’re all just HUMANS living on this giant sphere called Earth and that everyone has the same needs, wants, and desires as you. Living in another culture opens your eyes to the different ways that people go about living on the Earth, but also shows you how similar we all are. This road trip was, for lack of a better word, an amazing experience and one that I just wouldn’t have had if I were back at home in the United States. Just another reason I am so grateful that I decided to take the leap of faith across the pond just 5 short months ago, and leaving me with the feeling of “What’s next?!”