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I’m not one to believe in love at first sight, especially when it comes to travel.

You see, my inner sceptic is very hard to please. It usually takes me a couple hours (at least) to silence that little b*tch.

But with Koh Lanta, it was a different story.

Koh Lanta stole my heart. Right there and then. And the more time I spent time on that pretty Thai island, the harder I fell for it.

It’s safe to say Koh Lanta is quite the charmer. But you seriously can’t blame it. I mean, how could anyone resist this?

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A quick intro to Koh Lanta

Located on the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand (about an hour’s boat ride away from Krabi), Koh Lanta is chilled out, peaceful and drop dead gorgeous.

The island is filled with small resorts and guesthouses renting rooms and bungalows from around $20/night. Staying in a bungalow on the beach is a must. But make sure to book in advance as they tend to get snapped up quickly.

What you need to know is that Koh Lanta isn’t your typical party island. If you’re after $1 booze buckets and neon body paint, you might prefer nearby Koh Phi Phi instead.

The best way to explore Koh Lanta is by renting a motorbike (around $5 a day) and riding around the west coast, where the island’s main beaches are.

Speaking of beaches…

Without a doubt, Koh Lanta’s beaches are the most beautiful ones I’ve seen in Thailand, if not South East Asia. 

The sea is turquoise, the sand is white and there is no trash or debris in sight.

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The island’s most popular beaches (such as Long Beach) can get a little busy during high season, although they’re never too crowded.

But the smaller, more isolated spots, such as Kantiang or Klong Jak Bay are the real gems. If you’re lucky, you might even get the whole beach to yourself.

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Now would be a good time to mention that Koh Lanta’s sunsets are in a whole other league.

One of the most striking sunsets I personally witnessed was on the rocky Klong Khong Beach (pictured below). What a sight!

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It’s the perfect place to chill out

The best thing you can do on Koh Lanta is to chill by the beach with a beer or cocktail in hand. The island is filled with tiki-style bars, beach hangouts and restaurants. They all have a relaxed, laid back atmosphere, playing reggae music day and night,

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The tastiest Thai food can be found at the FIN Bar/Restaurant. They even have tables next to the beach.

But be warned, the panoramic views might distract you from the food!

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My favourite chilling out spot on the island is the Rock Beach Bar, located on Klong Khong beach. The music is great, the drinks aren’t too expensive and there’s even a small infinity pool overlooking the ocean. What else could you possible need?

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Final Thoughts

Koh Lanta stole my heart and I know it will steal yours, too. There’s nothing quite like spending your days relaxing by beautiful beaches, reading a novel and enjoying a cold beer. The best thing about Koh Lanta is its laid back atmosphere. If you want to escape daily life and chill out for a couple days (or weeks), Koh Lanta is definitely the place for you.

Have you ever been to Koh Lanta? How does it compare to other islands you’ve visited?

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Cruising down the Mekong River in Laos.

One month has passed since I started my backpacking adventure across South East Asia.

I have to pinch myself every so often because I still can’t believe I’m really here.

Living out of backpack and constantly being on the move feels much more normal than I expected. I’m writing this in a hostel lobby in Vientiane, Laos, where the receptionist is blasting Laos techno (I think?) and breaking some smooth dances moves. She hasn’t even started drinking yet.

It’s a Monday afternoon but somehow it feels like the most natural thing in the world. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

So much has happened in the past month. I’ve visited two countries and found so much to love in both. While I’ve had the time of my life, not everything has gone according to plan.

Let’s not forget that I’m a walking liability – things are bound to go wrong at some point.

This post is the first of a series of roundups where I look back of the crazy things that happened in the past month. I’ll share the best stories, totally random experiences and blunders, while reflecting on what travel has taught me so far.

Let’s get started:

Where did I go?

 

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Making friends with a rescued elephant in Chiang Mai.

The places I visited last month, in chronological order:

  • Bangkok, Thailand – 6 days
  • Ayutthaya, Thailand – 1 day
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand – 7 days
  • Pai, Thailand – 4 days
  • Chiang Rai, Thailand – 2 days
  • Chiang Khong, Thailand – 1 day
  • Pakbeng, Laos – 1 day
  • Luang Prabang, Laos – 2 days
  • Vang Vieng, Laos – 3 days
  • Vientiane, Thailand – 2 days

The best moments

 

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The weird and magnificent White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

  • Watching the most beautiful sunset of my life at the Cloud47 rooftop bar in Bangkok.
  • Riding a bicycle around the temple ruins of Ayutthaya and surviving to tell the tale.
  • Drinking SamSong (Thai rum disguised as whisky) and singing along to 90s pop songs with other backpackers on the front porch of a hostel.
  • Getting over my fear of motorbikes and exploring the mountains of Northern Thailand by sitting at the back of one.
  • Learning 5 important life lessons during a two-day silent meditation retreat with Buddhist monks.
  • Going to an open mic jazz night and witnessing an old white man playing the flute and hitting himself repeatedly on the head with a large plastic hammer. 
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Wandering around temple ruins in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

  • Spending a day feeding and washing rescued elephants at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.
  • Sleeping in a bungalow overlooking a gorgeous valley in Pai, for $3/£2 a night.
  • Learning swear words from a drunk Thai guy in a Chiang Rai rasta bar.
  • Visiting the bizarre but magnificent White Temple in Chiang Rai.
  • Getting to Laos in style, by cruising down the Mekong River for two days and gazing at the scenery.
  • Eating the best stew of my life at the Tamarind Restaurant in Luang Prabang.
  • Crashing a surprise French birthday party in a reggae-themed British pub in the middle of nowhere.
  • Drinking beer while floating down the Nam Song River in Vang Vieng on the inner tube of a tractor tyre.
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A beautiful Bangkok sunset, as seen from the Cloud47 rooftop bar.

The bad stuff

Backpacking isn’t always fun and games – here’s a couple misadventures from last month:

  • Almost getting scammed in Bangkok by a guy who pretended he wanted to practice his English. As a result, I’m always suspicious when someone comes to talk to me out of the blue, even if they genuinely just want to chat. Such a shame.
  • Hurting my foot pretty badly on a motorcycle in Chiang Mai, courtesy of Gilles. Apparently, he ‘forgot’ I was sitting at the back when attempting to pass through two parked cars. Thanks for that.
  • Witnessing the rudest, most obnoxious and disrespectful tourists treat monks like circus animals at the aims giving ceremony in Luang Prabang.
  • Having a massive cockroach stuck to my leg and not being able to get it off. Somehow I managed not to scream my lungs out.

Some epiphanies

Thoughts and reflections on what backpacking in South East Asia has taught me so far:

The best adventures are unplanned

Before I started this trip, I’d spent weeks researching places I wanted to go to and popular attractions I wanted to see. I’d always expected that major attractions that everyone raves about – the very things that attracted me to South East Asia in the first place–to be the most memorable.

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Trekking in the jungle in Chiang Mai. I somehow managed not to fall into the river.

While some of the experiences I crossed off my list were just as amazing as I thought they would be, it’s the things I didn’t plan that impacted me the most.

For example, striking up a conversation with a restaurant owner who went through Thailand’s entire culinary history while I was eating. Being amused when realising that locals like to nap everywhere in Laos, regardless of the time of day or the location. Or when I was trekking in the jungle and accidentally stumbled upon the biggest waterfall I’ve ever seen in my life.

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most.

Travel makes you aware of your privilege

Now, I know this is kind of a cliché. Every backpacker and their mother has this epiphany when they travel to a third world country and realise for the first time how lucky they really are.

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Empty explosives at the UXO Visitor Centre in Luang Prabang, Laos.

I always knew I’d won the geographical lottery and am aware of the many social and economical perks that come with the prize.

But perhaps naively, I didn’t realise my privilege extended so much further than access to education and financial security.

I never realised how lucky I was not to live in fear. Until I went to Laos.

Laos is the most bombed heavily bombed country on earth. It got caught in the middle of two Indochina wars, despite wanting to remain neutral.

As a result of the war, the whole country is covered in UXO – unexploded bombs that were dropped there 40 years. They can explode at any time. UXOs kill and injure people almost daily.

Walking to school can be a deadly exercise for young children who mistake grenades for rocks they can play with. People don’t cultivate their lands, for fear that a bomb might detonate while they work.

Travelling to Laos taught me that privilege can take many forms. In this case, it means living our lives without being haunted by events from half a century ago.

You don’t need to be a social butterfly to enjoy travelling

Every time I ask someone what they love most about travelling, it’s almost always the same answer: the people. And by that they mean other backpackers from around the world, with whom they’ve quickly become friends with.

I get it, but I find it difficult to relate.

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Exploring the rice fields in Pai, Thailand.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love making new friends too. Believe it or not, I’m not that weird. In the past month I’ve met some amazing people who I know I’ll stay in touch with.

But I don’t need constant social interaction to enjoy travelling.

At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. It seemed like everyone else, including other couples, needed to socialise 24/7 in order to have a good time. Except for me. I was perfectly happy just doing my own thing most of the time and finding people to hang out with when I felt like it.

The thing is, as an introvert, spending too much time with other people, like you tend do in hostels, overwhelms me. Just so you know, this includes Gilles too. While I love hanging out with people as much as the next person, but I just can’t do it three, or four days in a row.

Not everyone is a social butterfly. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean my travel experience won’t be as good. It will just be different.

Some people never get a tan. Ever.

Now it’s time to talk about a first world problem of epic proportions.

I don’t believe I’ve ever tanned in my entire life. Sure, I’ve burned many times. And the burns never turned into a tan. Those bastards.

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As pale as ever in the 35 degree Celcius heat in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

In order to spare people of the sight of my pasty white legs, I used to rely St Tropez tanning mousse, aka a 150ml confidence booster container for critically pale human beings. Sadly, I had no choice but to leave it behind. I figured that the overpowering smell on fake tan inside a humid hostel dorm wouldn’t go down too well with people.

But I got my hopes up. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I tried really hard it might just work. After all, sunning in the scorching sun, everyday single day, for 1 month, should do something, right? Right?

No.

It’s time to face the facts. It’s just not gonna happen.

That’s it for this month! Now I’m heading off to Cambodia and Vietnam. Any recommendations on what I should do?

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Pai_Thailand

For a small town tucked away in the mountains of Northern Thailand, Pai sure has a big reputation.

Every traveller I met in Thailand had something to say about Pai. Most of them told me it was practically a crime to leave the country without having been to Pai. They compared it to paradise on Earth – a place so beautiful that I would never want to leave.

Rumour has it backpackers love Pai so much that many end up staying for months on end. They spend their days relaxing on a hammock, contemplating the meaning of life while admiring the picturesque valleys around them, a large Chang beer in hand. Sounds like quite the life, doesn’t it?

But not everyone is so keen on Pai. I heard many comparisons to Khao San Road, the infamous backpacker’s Mecca in Bangkok. Others said Pai was just an overrated hangout spot for wannabe hippies. According to them, Pai isn’t the real Thailand.

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that yes, Pai is a hippie tourist trap. Streets are lined with hotels that look like beach resorts, even though there’s no ocean to be seen. The most popular spot in town is the walking street, a market where you can buy overpriced elephant trousers and some semi-decent street food. There are a few nice bars, yes, but nothing that makes the vomtastic 4-hour bus ride from Chiang Mai even close to worth it.

Despite all this, I really liked Pai.

Once you get away from the main bits, you’ll start to understand why so many travellers became obsessed by Pai. Think deep blue skies, endless rice fields, gorgeous waterfalls and valleys.

Pai is Picture Perfect.

Gilles and I spent a total of 4 days there, riding a motorbike on dirt roads surrounded by lush green rice fields, stopping at cool little cafes and chilling out in bungalows overlooking the village.

Here are some of my favourite memories of Pai, in pictures:

Wandering In The Green Rice Fields

 
If there’s one thing I’ve got too many pictures of (aside from cats), it’s got to be rice fields.  For some reason, I just love them. I think it’s because I’m not used to seeing that bright green colour in Europe. That, or I might be a little insane. Either way, I got very lucky. Pai really delivered on the rice fields.

Walking through them was great. Frantically fighting off mosquitos to avoid getting dengue fever – not so much.

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Riding a bike on crazy dirt roads 

 
On our way to the Pam Bok waterfall, we spotted a trail leading to a viewpoint in the mountains. It looked like fun, so we decided to give it a go. It ended up being quite the adventure. The road was so steep and slippery that our little motorbike struggled to make it to the top. I had to get off a couple times as it refused to climb the hill with both of us on it. Lucky me. But it was so much fun and the scenery didn’t disappoint.

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Finding the best chilling spot in the world 

 
If this is not the coolest place on Earth to relax with a drink in hand, I don’t know what is. I spent a couple hours enjoying this epic view at the Container coffee shop in Pai, chilling on a hammock overlooking the mountain. I’d go back there in a heartbeat.

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Defying Death at Pai Canyon

 
Pai has a lovely canyon but it’s not designed for people who are really bad at walking straight (like me). While it was fun for a bit, things got scary very fast. At times, the path was narrow and slippery. After losing my balance a couple times, I almost slipped and fell. I got very scared and swiftly made my way back up. I got some good pictures out of it though, making the near-death experience worthwhile, right?

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Eating Delicious Food 

 
Pai is filled with little cafes and restaurants with a hippie vibe. Many of them only serve vegan and vegetarian food. While I’m perfectly fine with the latter, I was a bit wary of the former. A couple years back, I tried to go vegan for a month. Without a doubt, it was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever done in my life. How can anyone be happy without eating milk chocolate? Just HOW? As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried, as most of the food I ate in Pai was absolutely delicious.

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Walking up the stairway to heaven

 
There’s a white stairway that leads to What Phra That Mae Yen, a huge Buddha statue in the mountains. Ok, so it doesn’t really lead to heaven, but it certainly feels like it. The Buddha statue was impressive. The view was even better. Oh Pai, I miss you already. I promise I’ll be back one day.

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Have you been to Pai? What did you think of it? If not, would you add it to your list? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts – I’d love to hear them.

 


Want to go to Pai? Here’s some Travel Info

 
How do I get to Pai? You can take a mini-van from Chiang Mai. It takes about 4 hours. Be sure to take a sick bag with you – you’ll need it.  If you know how to ride a motorbike properly and the weather is good, I’d recommend you drive yourself there instead.

How long should I stay? 3 days minimum – a week is ideal, if you’ve got enough time in Thailand.

What should I see? Go to see the Pai Canyon, the waterfalls, ride a bike in the countryside, bath in the hot springs, chill out in cafes and restaurants (I loved the Container, Na’s Kitchen, FatCat and Cafecito).

Where should I stay? If you can’t ride a motorbike, stay in the centre, there are many guesthouses there. If you do have transportation, I couldn’t recommend Mountain View Guesthouse enough. Gilles and I had a bungalow to ourselves for just 250 Baht (£4.5/$7) per night.

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Some words of wisdom, courtesy of Wat Chedi Luang temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

When I stayed in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I took part in a two-day Buddhist meditation retreat.

I spent that time learning about Buddhism and meditating with monks, in total silence.

That’s right – for 2 days, I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone.

I was woken up before dawn by the sound of a gong, took a martial arts class at 6 am, practiced different forms of meditation for hours and questioned Buddhist monks about the meaning of life.

It was amazing.

Now, some of you may be thinking that I’ve gone totally batshit crazy. I don’t blame you. Mum, dad, I promise that I haven’t been drinking shroom shakes.

Let’s say I’ve always been very sceptical of things like yoga – I may have once described it as a boring excuse of a sport for lazy hippies.

Never in a million years did I think I’d take part in a silent meditation retreat and genuinely enjoy it.

So why did I do it? I figured that since I’ll be spending a total of 7 months travelling around South East Asia, I should really try to understand the basic principles of Buddhism.

It turns out that I learned so much more than that.

I’m cringing while writing this, but spending 2 days meditating with Buddhist monks taught me an incredible amount about who I was and how I wanted to feel.

Out of everything I learned, there were five teachings in particular that really resonated with me. I like to think of them as life lessons. And here they are:

1. Silence can give you strength 

 
I thought that not speaking for two days would be challenging, but it turned out to be much easier than I thought. Not to mention totally awesome.

I know it’s kind of hard to believe, but keeping your mouth shut for 48 hours can actually make you feel great.

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Wandering in Wat Suan Dok, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For the past couple of weeks, I’d been hopping from hostel to hostel, meeting new people all the time and hanging out in large groups.

While I do really enjoy that aspect of travelling, it can be overwhelming, especially as an introvert. I’m glad I got the chance to meet some amazing people that way, but constant social interaction can really stress me out.

Having two days to myself where there was no pressure to make small conversation was extremely refreshing.

And contrary to what you might think, silence is not boring at all. You’ll keep yourself busy. The thing is, not speaking to anyone else means that you’ll be speaking to yourself – all the time.

This has many advantages. For instance, you can have an honest conversation with yourself and clear your mind. I had the time to take a good look at what was on my mind and deal with things that were bothering me, one by one.

After leaving the retreat, I’d resolved a lot of inner conflict and felt much more confident about my decisions.

Who knew that talking to yourself for 2 days would actually make you feel less crazy?

2. We need to forgive, forget and let go

 
Throughout the retreat, our monk kept repeating that inner peace would come to those who could learn how to forgive, forget and let go. Starting with ourselves.

Every time he said that, I couldn’t stop thinking about that epic scene from The Hills. You know the one – when LC confronts ex best-friend Heidi and tells her “I want to forgive you and I want to forget you”. So brutal yet so deserved.

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Elephants ‘cuddling’ at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.

It’s safe to say that I sucked at meditating. The monk told me that I let my mind wander too much and it was like a ‘naughty monkey’.

He was being nice. ‘Out of control gorilla’ is probably more accurate.

Anyway – forgiving yourself is not easy. Forgiving others is hard enough. Forgiving, forgetting and letting go of our mistakes often seems impossible.

We dwell on past mistakes for months, years, sometimes our entire lives. We know we can’t change the past so why do we obsess about it so much?

I found that the longer I managed to meditate (20 minutes at at time was the max I could handle), the better I got at managing some of those mental monsters.

We were taught not to block them, but rather acknowledge that they’re there and practice gently brushing them aside.

Eventually, they’ll just disappear.

It’s not a quick fix though. To be able to truly forgive, forget and let go, you’ll have to practice meditation for months, years or even decades. I guess I better get started…

3. The present moment is all we’ve got

 
Living in the present moment. Buddhists call this mindfulness. It sounds so simple, yet most of us struggle to do it.

We’re so preoccupied with our daily lives, mechanically repeating the same tasks and habits that we never pause and think ‘What am I really doing right now? and do I really want to be doing this?’

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Enjoying the view at The Container coffee shop in Pai, Thailand.

Even when we enjoy what we’re doing, our thoughts are still drifting somewhere else. We think about what happened earlier that day or contemplate about what we’ll do next. We’re just not really there.

I wasn’t aware of how much I did this until I basically forced myself to focus on the present and realised how hard it was for me.

I don’t have my head in the clouds – it’s on a whole other planet.

Since leaving the retreat, I promised myself I would start living in the moment, every single day.

Don’t get me wrong – I can’t live in the moment all day long.  Nobody can. But at specific moments in the day, I make a conscious effort to just be aware of what is around me. Nothing less, nothing more.

4. Your life will change when you change yourself

 
When something goes wrong in our world, we often point the finger at other people. We ask ourselves things like: ‘Why can’t they just be more like this?’ or ‘Why can’t they just do it my way.’

The problem is that we expect too much of other people without questioning how we can improve ourselves.

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Getting away from the chaos of Bangkok in Wat Chanasongkram.

We’re often told to just embrace our personality and stay the way we are. The funny thing is, most of us think it’s important to take care of our bodies by eating healthy or exercising regularly. But how many of us have gone out of our way to take care of our minds? I certainly haven’t.

If you’re like me, you probably thought that trying to change your personality was a lost cause.

But that’s not necessarily true.

By definition, our personalities are ingrained behaviours that are predictable in a person. Sure, some of them are deeply ingrained, or inherited, thus almost impossible to alter. But some of our behaviours are the result of habits.  And we all know that habits can be learned (or unlearned).  So it’s worth a try, right?

I’m currently reading this book called The Chimp Paradox, by psychiatrist Professor Steve Peters. I was surprised to find out that the Buddhist teachings from the monks had many parallels with the book, especially when it came to self-improvement and mind management. For instance, Peters writes:

“The person that you want to be is the person that you really are. If you wrote a list of all the things you would like to be, you might write things like calm, compassionate, reasonable, confident and happy, then this is who you really are”.

According to Peters, the disparity between who you really are and who you appear to be is the result of the chimp, the primitive part of the brain, hijacking you. Our Buddhist monk used a similar analogy – he called it ‘the monkey mind’.

If we learn how to manage our chimp/monkey mind, we’ll be able to improve, and become the person we’ve always wanted to be.

This is like music to my ears. Now let’s go tame this beast.

5. Happiness is a path, not a goal

 
Most of us spend our lives chasing happiness, perceiving it as something that can be achieved through money, relationships or hard work.

When we feel happy, there’s always a tangible reason behind it. We might have bought a house, fallen in love or gotten a promotion.

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Visiting the gardens of a Doi Suthep Hmong Hilltribe village in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

We always tell ourselves and others things like ‘I’ll be happy when I loose 10 pounds/find a partner/earn more money/go travelling etc..’.

I’ve never heard anyone say ‘I just feel so happy right now’ without giving some kind of justification as to why they feel that way. If they did, I would probably think they were crazy.

That’s why happiness, as most of us experience it, is a very dangerous pursuit. It is extremely fragile – all these things that we perceive can bring us happiness come and go. We are ecstatic one second and can feel truly unhappy the next.

But what if we’re doing this all wrong? What if happiness was the path rather than the goal?

What if happiness was a skill that could be learned?

Monks spend hours a day meditating and practicing how to be happy. And when you see the constant smile on their face and hear the unmistakable peace in their voice, you know that whatever they’re doing, it’s working.

Would you ever take part in a meditation retreat? If you’ve practised meditation before, what life lessons did you learn? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 
NOTE:This blog post features my interpretation of meditation and the Buddhist teachings that I received at the Wat Suan Dok retreat with Monkchat. I’m in no way claiming that they came right out of Buddha’s mouth, or that my understanding of them is spot-on. This is an account of my own experience and what life lessons I personally took away. If you’d like to share your own point of view, I’d love for you to chip in by leaving a comment below. Thanks!


Want to attend this meditation retreat? Here’s Some Travel Info

 
Where is it? About half-an hour outside of Chiang Mai. Meet the rest of the group in the MCU Chiang Mai Campus, Wat Suan Dok, Monkchat will organise transportation to the retreat.

How much does it cost? 500 Baht ($15/£10) for two days. This covers food and transport. There’s a 300 Baht ($8.5/£5.5) fee to buy white clothes (t-shirt and trousers) if you don’t bring any with you. The retreat relies on donations – you’ll have an opportunity to do so at the end.

Any tips or advice? If you’re looking for a fun thing to do in Chiang Mai, this is not it. If you’re not serious about attending this, you’ll get bored. Bring a lot of mosquito repellant and stretch before and after meditation exercises, as you’ll get sore quickly.

Where can I find more info? Check out monkchat.net.

 

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Waterfalls_Chiang_Mai_Mae_Ya

I know. I ignored the advice of the best girl band of all time, aka the legendary TLC.

They told me not to go chasing waterfalls but I went anyway.

If for some inexplicable reason you don’t know what song I’m talking about, you need to seriously rethink your life. And go listen to it on YouTube, like right this second.

Let me quickly recap their wise words of advice:

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to”

Back in the days, I never understood what they actually meant by that, but it didn’t matter.

Whatever TLC says, goes. Every 90s kid knows this.

Sorry, I digress. Back to the waterfalls.

Inside Doi Suthep National Park, about half an hour from Chiang Mai, lies the Mae Sa valley. It’s famous for its 10-tier waterfall that sits within a lush green forest.

Gilles and I grabbed the motorbike and headed there to see what all the fuss was about.

We got off to a very shaky, or should I said rainy, start. Just as we were about to start trekking to the top of the waterfall, it started pouring down with rain. We were totally unprepared (no surprise there) and didn’t have a rain jacket or an umbrella.

Luckily, we found something that vaguely resembled a bamboo roof and sat under it.

For 2 hours.

To avoid something like this happening again, I’ve bought myself a bright pink Hello Kitty rain poncho for half a dollar. It’s amazing. It looks absolutely horrendous but I love it.

Trekking to the top of the Mae Ya waterfall

It was still raining pretty hard but we just thought, f*** it, and decided to start trekking. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea. It was extremely slippery. I took a nasty tumble right away, scratching myself pretty badly and smashing my camera against a rock (it miraculously survived).

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Brushing aside the pain and my ego, I continued to make my way to the top, through bridges and jungle trails.

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Because of the rain, all the vegetation around us had a beautiful bright green colour.

I spotted some mushrooms growing on logs, almost stepping on them while taking a photograph.

I’m so bad at trekking it’s almost impressive.

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I picked up a green leaf and thought I was being really clever by taking pictures of it against different matching backdrops.

Then I realised I was running out of battery on my camera and thought I should probably save what was left of it for the actual waterfalls.

Anyway, here’s my attempt at being hipster and artsy:

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We eventually reached the waterfall.

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As the forest was extremely hot and humid, we took a refreshing dip in the water.

Waterfalls_Chiang_Mai_Mae_Ya

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to go swimming.

It was already late afternoon and we had to start making our way down, so we could get back to Chiang Mai safely before sunset.

But then, this happened.

Chiang_Mai_Waterfall_Mae_Sa

As I was sitting on a rock taking pictures, the water started to turn brown and the current became much stronger.

The spot I’d been standing on a minute earlier was now completely covered in water.

A man was frantically running towards us. It was one of the park rangers. He shouted “Danger!” and politely told us to get the hell out as quickly as we could.

Bad things happen when you don’t take TLC’s life advice seriously.

Because of the heavy rain, the stream had started to swell and overflow on the trekking trail. It was all happening very quickly – staying put could potentially be life threatening.

Not wanting to get caught up in the stream and die, we quickly made our way back to the bike.

You sure don’t get this kind of action by just sticking to rivers and lakes that you’re used to, ammiright?


Want to check out these waterfalls? Here’s Some Travel Info

 
Where is it? Just off highway 1096 in Mae Rim District in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

How do you get there? It’s a half-hour drive from Chiang Mai on motorbike, tuk-tuk or songthaew.

How much does it cost? It cost 100 Baht (3 dollars) to enter the area.

Any tips or advice?. Bring good shoes (don’t even think about wearing flip flops). If the water suddenly turns brown – leave!

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