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Thailand - Shangri-La

THAILAND | Thursday, 17 December 2009 | Views [537]

Shangri-La

We are staying in Shangri-La!!

My last entry said we were going for Thai language lessons, and we did.  That turned out to be very useful.  She taught us some basic words and phrases that will be very useful going forward.   Hello, Thank you, not a problem, see you later, hot water, not far, how much, and numbers.  She also explained how the Thai language has high, medium and low tones, as well as rising and lowering tones.  You can either be asking a question or responding negatively, simply by the tone you use.  While signing up for the class she mentioned that she and her husband had opened a guest house 6 months ago, and she showed us some pictures and gave us a price.  We said we’d think about it, not really intending to go.  However, by the time our course started, two days later, the hot water in our guesthouse was sporadic, the barking dog next door was getting on our nerves, the light in the hall that shone through the window above our door was driving us nuts and the bathroom – well, I won’t go there.....  We wanted to do a couple of more things in Chiang Mai and we thought how are we going to be able to do them if we are 18 Km out of the city, in a small village.  When she asked if we considered her offer, we expressed our concerns.  Mai bpen rai!!  (Not a problem)  There is another cooking school very near to them; the elephant farm is within biking distance, as is the tiger farm.  They will give us mountain bikes to use and a map.   So we decided that we would go out to her guesthouse for the last 2 nights of our stay in Chiang Mai. 

Panom picked us up at our guesthouse the next morning and drove us to Mae Rim (18 km north into the mountain area) Then another 2 or 3 km snaking west, through his village and down a dirt road to his guesthouse.  When we came over a little crest we saw it – Shangri-La!  There are 3 huge fish ponds (each 1/2 a swimming pool size) surrounded by lots and lots of planted fruit and nut trees.  There are 3 very Thai looking cabins (one is still under construction).  They are airy cabins with screened windows with shutters on three walls.  There appears to be only enough wall to hold the windows in. They have a tiled front veranda, with 2 cushioned arm chairs and coffee table.  The room is huge!!  A king size bed, single bed, desk, and armoire, and still plenty of room to move around.  The back has sliding patio doors leading to the back veranda , with 2 wooden chairs and table, that overlooks a valley and into the jungle. You have to look past the bamboo that is growing less than a metre from the veranda, and past the banana trees.  The bathroom is just off the veranda and is the size of a very large walk-in closet. 

 

There is a huge open air 2 level dining hall on the edge of the largest fish pond.  The hall’s main eating area is teak tables and loveseat style benches.  The level closest the fish pond has cozy little tables and  chairs just feet from the pond.  They give you lovely cloth slippers to wear since they feel the teak color tile floor may be chilly. 

There is a big hill to the east, which offers the most spectacular view of the sunset descending behind the mountains.  The sky is always hazy and it turns a beautiful rich orange at sunset. When contrasted with the various shades of blue and purple of the mountains, it is indeed breathtaking.

The night is filled with the sounds of crickets and frogs and the fountain that is just outside our window and the occasional jing-kok cough of a gecko.

The location may be beautiful, but it is NOTHING compared to the inner beauty of our hosts.  Panom is a former monk.  He was a novice monk prior to being ordained then spending 10 years in the monastery as a monk.  He is a very peaceful man, but knowledgeable about current events as well as culture.  Pechara (his wife) not only teaches language but also teaches Thai culture at their shop in Chiang Mai.  She used to work for the US Peace Corps, teaching Thai culture and customs to the troops, so they would assimilate better.  Ed and Panom have had some very interesting chats about the Thai King and what the political climate holds in store when the King dies (he’s 83);  while Pechara and Irene went into the kitchen to learn some basic Thai cooking.  

They told us that Thai culture dictates that a man MUST spend time as a monk prior to marriage, so that he learns patience, and is more mature.  Sadly, most men go to the monastery for a symbolic week or month; the true meaning of the ritual has mostly died.  There are still many that take the monastery service seriously, however; which is evident in the smiles, hellos and cleanliness of the people.  Respect all life, respect the land, respect everything....

 

To be continued........

 

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