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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010


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    [post_date] => 2010-07-06 00:00:00
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This afternoon at 4pm, I received a call from the group as they stood atop Doi Pui, the highest mountain in the Mae Hong Son province. This is the only place on their trek in which they will have cell phone reception. Doi Pui is a stunning mountain. It has been the center of a debate on development and the village of Huay Hee where the students are staying has worked consistently to keep the mountain in its natural state, rather than paving a road to the top.

I've hiked to the top of Doi Pui and I truly wish I could have been with the group today to experience the incredible views with the warm hearted Karen people who guided them there. The trek is a special portion of our trip. Students will certainly be challenged both physically and mentally. The will also work together to create a powerful and memorable experience. It is mushroom season in the mountains and their families will stir fry fresh shitake mushrooms with green vegetables picked from the garden.

Tomorrow the students will spend the day with their families and on Thursday, they will hike to the beautiful Huay Tong Koh village where they will learn blacksmithing and weaving.

Our trip to the Huay Puling region of the north is always a special time and it serves as a gateway as the perspective of the students begins to change as they are introduced to a vibrant people.

We should hear from the group again on July 10 and I'll be sure to keep everyone updated then.

Till then, safe travels...

The Thailand Leader Team

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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The Majestic Hills of Northern Thailand

Josh Morris,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

This afternoon at 4pm, I received a call from the group as they stood atop Doi Pui, the highest mountain in the Mae Hong Son province. This is the only place on their trek in which they will have cell phone reception. Doi Pui is a stunning mountain. It has been the center of a […]

Posted On

07/6/10

Author

Josh Morris

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Dear family and friends,

Greetings from the town of Mae Hong Son! Yesterday our group left the city of Chiang Mai, where we had spent our first, foundational module, and took an 8 hour bus ride up to Mae Hong Son. After checking into our guest house, students and instructors participated in a bead ceremony which closed out our first module and opened the second -- our trekking module. The bead ceremony gave us the time to reflect on what we did and on what we learned, a list that is surprisingly long for encompassing onlyfive days. A few of them are:

--How to greet people in Thai, based on their social status and age.

--How to find and use local means of public transportation

--The concepts of greng jai (loosely translated, how to be considerate) and naam jai (generosity), as they are applied in Thai society

--Basic Thai phrases, numbers, and food words

--The ways in which groups develop, interact, and change

--The practice of Buddhism in Thai daily life

--How to travel between cities, and the multiple means of transportation available

Now, we take everything that we have learned in our beginning days here and start to apply it on a closer, more local level. In just over an hour, our group heads out on our trek, an exciting 6-day period of hiking, homestays, and community-based and -led tourism. We drive today from Mae Hong Son to a town named Nam Hoo. From Nam Hoo, it is a 4-6 hour hike to the village of Hua Hee. While many of the students are excited to begin the trek, there are also some group members who feel a little nervous. For several of our students, this is the first trek of this nature in which they have participated. Packs are heavy. Homestays are challenging.Heat and mosquitos are ever-present.Despite the above concerns, everyone is ready for the adventure, and is more thanwilling toventure forth to "find ourdragons."

Very important--because we will be trekking in a very remote area for the next6 days, we willNOT have Internet access.On day 3 or 4, we will summit a tallmountain wherewe hope to get cell phone reception. If we do, we will be able tocallJosh Morris, our course director, and he will be able to post an update about our trek. The nexttime that you hear fromthe students and instructors directly will be on July 11th (Thai time!), when we return from our trek and prepare for our trip down to the border town of Mae Sot.Thank you for your patience and understanding while we are out of Internet range. Weare looking forward to our trek and to posting about it afterwards. Until then!

Megan

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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Trekking

Megan Wolf,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

Dear family and friends, Greetings from the town of Mae Hong Son! Yesterday our group left the city of Chiang Mai, where we had spent our first, foundational module, and took an 8 hour bus ride up to Mae Hong Son. After checking into our guest house, students and instructors participated in a bead ceremony […]

Posted On

07/4/10

Author

Megan Wolf

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    [post_date] => 2010-07-03 00:00:00
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Today we concluded our thai lessons in Chiang Mai, giving our lovely adjaans (teachers) fruits we bought at the market. We danced toa song that goes like this:

apun apun apun (apple)

malako malako malako (papaya)

gluay gluay gluay (banana)

som som som (orange)

apun malako gluay som

gluay som

gluay som

gluay som

"The hip movements and pelvic thrusts were key to the essence of the dance." - JD

We got really into the moment and although we were sad to be leaving, we were elated by the pending scavenger hunt all around Chiang Mai! The i-team gave us 180 baht, guidelines to what we were looking for, maps, and the freedom to roam around the entertaining and diverse streets of the city. We spent time in markets, wats and even electronics shops to find prices on TVs. We met vendors, random locals, and monks who all helped us slowly join the Thai community. We had a conversation with one monk who invited us over to his university tolearn more, since he is a student, and we are students. He gave ushis number, his smiles, and the opportunity to learn from each other.

It seems as when you make an effort to connect with the Thai people and indulge in Thai conversation, the actions are reciprocated beacuse people express their concerns for your comfort and enjoyment.

Our tasks thorughout the scavenger hunt included: buying sarongs, finding quotes for hotels around Chiang Mai, lighting an incense in a temple, circling a wat three times, and posing in front of monuments. We also even surveyed the traffic in streets comparing the number of cars, motorcycles and public transportation in the area.

Once we concluded our tasks we hit the markets for dinner and even more shopping. Now we are all yaking and watching the fifa game, ARGENTINA! So far, after spending a few days getting used to Thailand, we've started to become more comfortable with ourselves and consequently with the rest of the Thai communtiy. Making the effort to surmount language barriers and making friends with the locals, we have found that there is more to travelling than tourism. This makes us even more exited for our upcoming commute to Mae Hong Son were we will go farther into local communities and trek along the Thai borders.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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Entering the Thai community

Irene Garcia,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

Today we concluded our thai lessons in Chiang Mai, giving our lovely adjaans (teachers) fruits we bought at the market. We danced toa song that goes like this: apun apun apun (apple) malako malako malako (papaya) gluay gluay gluay (banana) som som som (orange) apun malako gluay som gluay som gluay som gluay som "The […]

Posted On

07/3/10

Author

Irene Garcia

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On the night of July 2nd we went to a thai funeral. It was an experience unlike anything we have done before.

This funeral was set up so that in the room people could either sit down or sit in a chair. Outside of the room there were many chairs lined up. Many people chose to sit in the chairs outside of the room. Many of us questioned why. We were told it was for many reasons, but one of them is because those people were being greng jai. They were sitting outside so that there would be room for others to sit in the room. In a way it is about putting yourself in a somewhat uncomfurtable position so that others will be more comfurtable. You do something nice for someone but you do not ask them first if they want you to do this. This is something we have witnessed many thais doing. It is a concept we do not often see in America.

We walked into the room to sit on the floor and we were immediately accepted. We were smiled at, and people moved to make room for us. We sat down in front of the monks who were singing. Although we didnt understand exactly what was going on we tried to present ourselves well. We sat mermaid style. This is because the soles of our feet are the lowest part of our body so they shouldnt be pointing out at anyone. Once the monks stopped singing, the atmosphere changed but it was not the atmosphere of an american funeral. People went around passing out food. People even took pictures of us. At first i felt awkward i was about to smile, but then realised i was at a funeral. After this first picture was taken i asked what was appropriate to do in that situation. I was told it was completely normal to smile. Smiling for a picture at a funeral is somethign I never thought I would do.

This was my and others first time at a funeral. From what I've heard about funerals I was expecting people to be crying, but this thai funeral was the opposite.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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A thai funeral

Alexandra Fuhr,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

On the night of July 2nd we went to a thai funeral. It was an experience unlike anything we have done before. This funeral was set up so that in the room people could either sit down or sit in a chair. Outside of the room there were many chairs lined up. Many people chose […]

Posted On

07/3/10

Author

Alexandra Fuhr

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    [post_date] => 2010-07-03 00:00:00
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Not even a week in Chaing Mai

And it has been one of the best days in my life.

Not even my first trip outside the U.S

And it has to be one of the most rewarding trips in my life.

Not even eating Burgers and Fries

And enjoying the most delicious Thai food I have ever had in my life.

Not even watching T.V in bed,

And I have already learned more than any celebrity has in their life.

Not even fluent in Thai,

And I have been invited to a Wat by a Monk.

Best invitation in my life.

To say being in Thailand will help me become a leader is an understatment.

To say being in Thailand will help me become a lifelong learner and be on the road to true success is a fact.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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A true Fact

Jesus Sandoval,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

Not even a week in Chaing Mai And it has been one of the best days in my life. Not even my first trip outside the U.S And it has to be one of the most rewarding trips in my life. Not even eating Burgers and Fries And enjoying the most delicious Thai food I […]

Posted On

07/3/10

Author

Jesus Sandoval

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    [post_date] => 2010-07-03 00:00:00
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Today, our third day in Chaing Mai we were set loose around the city and were given a scavenger hunt to do. After completing the tasks we had to do, we went to shop for things we wanted and to generally see the amazing city. We went to three different markets and walked almost all day. However, it was so worth it. Walking around this foreign city we saw sights that we only saw in movies. Women walking home from market with groceries to make her family's meals, kids playing by the side of a parents booth selling precious jewelry or fabrics, and everyone riding motorcycles to and from work.

The phrase that Thailand is home to the nicest people is extremely true. When we had to navigate around on our own, it was easy to approach someone for directions. A monk came up to us in a market and asked about us and where we were from. Conversing is becoming easier and easier. With the help of our thai lessons, of course.

So far the most fun has been bargaining prices for goods. Even though we generally feel bad for the shop keepers, for the prices we bought things at theres no reason to be upset. They will sell you anything. Today I was offored monk robes by avendor even though I was clearly not Buddhist or a Thai monk. That is how badly they want to share their culture with us, and at a cheap price.

We have found two new loves in the world, or as one of our members put it, "Gods". One is fried bananas and the other is a Thai massage. My masseuse was a little on the thick side and it made her arms feel like a warm steam roller across my legs back face and anywhere else you could think of that would feel good. We were treated like kobe beef. In the end, I wanted nothing more than to take my masseuse home with me.

If there were any reason to come to Thailand, for those of you out there that are weary of traveling, it would be for the best massage of your life.

Wow we have seen and done so much already today we were by are selves and that was good butI have enjoyed the food the most. We have had all types of food but most are spicy; you take a bite of something and boom you are on fire or close to it. But its a good fire it clenses you out and lets you breathe.

Oh yeah before weforget we saw two elephants roaming the streets while in arotdang (a thai cab) usually at night but it was still amazing just to see a real live elephant.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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A Hunt Through Chaing Mai

Alejandra Garcia, J.D. Schiff, Anna Pick, and Sarah Haynes,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

Today, our third day in Chaing Mai we were set loose around the city and were given a scavenger hunt to do. After completing the tasks we had to do, we went to shop for things we wanted and to generally see the amazing city. We went to three different markets and walked almost all […]

Posted On

07/3/10

Author

Alejandra Garcia, J.D. Schiff, Anna Pick, and Sarah Haynes

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This is Irene and Chloe reporting to you again on all matters Thailand. Last night, we forgot to yak about a life changing and enlightening experience that did not include Buddha. Ben (our prophet) introduced us to our new God, also known as Roti. Roti consists of a thin bread dough, a fried egg, bananas, condensed milk and of course sugar. How does one make a Roti, you might ask? Well this process draws many parallels to the well known eight-fold path in Buddhism. First one must enter the Roti preparation zone, where one must meditate on the experience that is about to unravel and change your life. Secondly, one must stretch out the dough on a hot surface and lay it on oil. Then you fry up the egg right on top of it and allow it to spread and fry. After that, one must slice up the bananas and lay them on top of the egg. Then you fold it up and allow it to soak up in its deliciousness. Later remove it from the oil and lay it down so one can cut it up and prepare it. Now one must pour the condensed milk and sugar over God. Served with all the blessings in the world, God (Roti) is the best dish we’ve had so far in Thailand. It is crucial to be mindful and eat God slowly to soak up the spiritual experience. Apart form being delicious, God has opened our mind to street food in general, seeing as how initially one is hesitant to try new things.

IF YOU ARE EVER IN A SITUATION WERE SOMEONE SO GREAT (BEN) OFFERS YOU SOME ROTI, EAT IT. REALLY.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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God

Irene Garcia and Chloe Friedman,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

This is Irene and Chloe reporting to you again on all matters Thailand. Last night, we forgot to yak about a life changing and enlightening experience that did not include Buddha. Ben (our prophet) introduced us to our new God, also known as Roti. Roti consists of a thin bread dough, a fried egg, bananas, […]

Posted On

07/2/10

Author

Irene Garcia and Chloe Friedman

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    [post_content] => After spending the day taking thai lessons and meeting with NGOs concerning Burmese human rights issues and eating the best Burmese food, we hit the markets. Upon arriving to one of the biggest 24hr markets in Chiang Mai, the instructor team surpirsed us with the priviledge of enjoying the general splendor of Thai markets and eating classic street vendor food. The experience was one of a kind: not only did we bask in the freedom of being on our own, we were challenged because we had to make an individual effort to find the food of our choice, communicate with street vendors, and even find transportation back to the guest house. The language barriers set an initial challenge at first, but helping each other out we managed to eat delicious food, have fun and ultimately get home safely. 
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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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First Market Experience

Irene Garcia and Chloe Friedman and Anna Pick,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

After spending the day taking thai lessons and meeting with NGOs concerning Burmese human rights issues and eating the best Burmese food, we hit the markets. Upon arriving to one of the biggest 24hr markets in Chiang Mai, the instructor team surpirsed us with the priviledge of enjoying the general splendor of Thai markets and […]

Posted On

07/1/10

Author

Irene Garcia and Chloe Friedman and Anna Pick

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With smiling faces gleaming with excitement, I met the students and instructors of the Thailand Summer 2010 program. I am already impressed with our students. They are extremely polite and clearly have been doing their homework. The group is off enjoying an afternoon hike to a special and secret temple on the hill.

This is already a fantastic summer!

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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Safe and Sound in Chiang Mai

Josh Morris,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

With smiling faces gleaming with excitement, I met the students and instructors of the Thailand Summer 2010 program. I am already impressed with our students. They are extremely polite and clearly have been doing their homework. The group is off enjoying an afternoon hike to a special and secret temple on the hill. This is […]

Posted On

06/30/10

Author

Josh Morris

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    [post_content] => 

Team Thailand has made it to Bangkok! We had smooth, uneventful flights from LAX to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to Bangkok. Right now, we are waiting to board a domestic flight to the northern cityof Chiang Mai. Shortly before boarding, we will be joined by the final members of our team, Kenny and instructors Mike and Ben, who are all currently in a separate waiting area.

We can't post a photo right now, because the kiosk that we are using towrite this doesn't have the capabilities todo so. However, we will post some pictures when we arrive in Chiang Mai. We are a little tired, a little rumpled, and extremely happy to be here. Until later!

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

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In Bangkok!

Megan Wolf,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2010

Description

Team Thailand has made it to Bangkok! We had smooth, uneventful flights from LAX to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to Bangkok. Right now, we are waiting to board a domestic flight to the northern cityof Chiang Mai. Shortly before boarding, we will be joined by the final members of our team, Kenny and […]

Posted On

06/30/10

Author

Megan Wolf

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