Think Big Thoughts but Relish Small Pleasures

Think Big Thoughts but Relish Small Pleasures

I’ve always loved this quote by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Living in Thailand and being a teacher remind me to ‘Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures’ daily. For example…

Gorgeous floating flowers in pots.

Gorgeous floating flowers in pots

Seeing a pineapple plant grow

Seeing a pineapple plant grow

Accidentally happening upon a charming rooftop restaurant in Chiang Mai

Accidentally happening upon a charming rooftop restaurant in Chiang Mai

This graceful little flower known as anchan in Thai, butterfly pea in English, and scientifically as clitoria.

This graceful little flower known as anchan in Thai, butterfly pea in English, and scientifically as clitoria

Seeing the creativity of students' recycled art projects.

Witnessing the creativity of students’ recycled art projects

Hiking with this little cutie named Manee

Hiking with this little cutie named Manee

Noticing the 'Wintry' and 'Summer' settings on the hot water heater for a shower

Noticing the ‘Wintry’ and ‘Summer’ settings on the hot water heater for a shower

Having a little think by the lake

Having a little think by the lake

Finding a student's drawing of/for me

Finding a student’s drawing of/for me

Blatant copyright infringement

Hilarious and blatant copyright infringement

The exquisite mangosteen - edible art

The exquisite mangosteen – edible art

Cutting into a papaya, and finding a star.

Cutting into a papaya, and finding a star.

Students making a game out of weeding the rice

Students making a game out of weeding the rice field

Students ploughing like buffalo

Having fun ploughing like buffalo

...and playing with the plough

…and playing with the plough

The lotuses that bloom in the morning

The lotuses that bloom in the morning

The serenity of the ubiquitous Buddha images

The serenity of the ubiquitous Buddha images

Planting rice at Panyaden on Thai Mother's Day

Planting rice at Panyaden School on Thai Mother’s Day

After four years of living and teaching in Thailand, I have learned a few simple, but profound lessons:

Noticing what children and nature teach us is worthwhile. Pay attention. Be present. Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.

Hiking the Tallest Mountain in Thailand – Doi Inthanon National Park ดอยอินทนนท์

Hiking the Tallest Mountain in Thailand – Doi Inthanon ดอยอินทนนท์

If the city of Chiang Mai gets too hot and congested, a good trip away is Doi Inthanon National Park. Driving, it’s about an hour south to the entrance of the park and quite a bit longer to reach the peak at 2,565 meters (8,415 ft).

Trekking up the mountain

Trekking up the mountain with students

Views from the top

Views from the top

Hiking into the clouds

Hiking into the clouds

In the clouds in Doi Inthanon

In the clouds at Doi Inthanon

Mountainous Doi Inthanon

Mountainous Doi Inthanon

Apart from hiking, Doi Inthanon has many other offerings…

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

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Enormous and unusual insects…IMG_0897IMG_0896IMG_0882IMG_0973
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A small praying mantis at our bungalow

A small praying mantis at our bungalow

The most incredible golden chrysalis I've ever seen

The most incredible golden chrysalis I’ve ever seen

Big beautiful blue butterflies

Big beautiful blue butterflies

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Different types of accommodation…

Basic bungalows

Basic bungalows

Indigenous Karen homestay

Indigenous Karen homestay

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A bit more upscale digs

A bit more upscale digs

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IMG_1249I’ve stayed in all types of rooms there – from the national park dorms with students, to Karen homestays on the ground of a bamboo hut with a tour group, to basic bungalows with friends, to slightly more upscale rooms with colleagues – each one gives a different experience of the park.

Of course there is wildlife…

Water buffalow

Water buffalo

Black Swan

Black Swan

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piglets

piglets

and the ubiquitous dogs and chickens

the ubiquitous dogs and chickens

and sometimes snakes that bit off a bit more than they could chew

sometimes a snake that bit off a bit more than it could chew











cows

cows














The topography is varied…

Mountainous

Mountainous

Mountainside with waterfalls

Mountainside with waterfalls

forests

tropical forests

more developed trails in the forest

more developed trails in the forest

wats

stupas on mountaintops

Terraced rice fields

Terraced  fields

Manicured areas

Manicured areas

Greenhouses for the Royal Project agriculture

Greenhouses for the Royal Project agriculture

Inside a greenhouse

Inside a greenhouse

Gorgeous nature…

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IMG_1264IMG_4702And the things that are quintessentially Thai…

Monks in a garden

A monk in a garden

Cute nature

Cute nature

Goofy products

Goofy items – Mr. Popcorn whiskey

Delicious coffee everywhere

Delicious coffee everywhere

Freshly roasted

Freshly roasted and served

Kanom (Thai snacks) wrapped in banana leaves

Kanom (Thai snacks) wrapped in banana leaves

Herding cows on a motorbike

Herding cows on a motorbike and with a bamboo stick

...and signs that make you wonder

Signs that make you wonder

It’s well worth a trip there. You will need a guide for hiking, and make sure to pack your coat – it’s significantly cooler than the city Chiang Mai.

Beautiful Doi Inthanon

Beautiful Doi Inthanon

Ios – 50 Shades of Blue

Ios – 50 Shades of Blue

We said goodbye to Naxos...

We said goodbye to Naxos…

...and hello to Ios

…and hello to Ios

Main town in Ios

Main town in Ios

We hadn’t planned on going to Ios, but with so much shut in the low season, and it being between Naxos and Santorini, we thought we’d stop by. I’d heard it was a party island…

...it was more like this in the low season.

…it was more like this during the low season.

Once again, being early April, we found ourselves on an island with most places still shut and being some of the only tourists there. Heavenly! We nearly had the island to ourselves.

It was obvious that in the high season the bars would be packed with young'uns. Remember 'Stay Under 17'

It was obvious that in the high season the bars would be packed with young’uns. Remember ‘Stay Under 17’

Rock mosaics everywhere

Rock mosaics everywhere

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Hiking along the coast

Jeremy hiking along the coast

Megan and Julian

Megan and Julian

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Amazing sky

Amazing sky

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Can you spot Julian?

Can you spot Julian?

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Another sign indicating that this could be a a place for crazy parties

Another sign indicating that this could be a a place for crazy parties

Julian found this

Julian found this Urchin…

and put it back...it was still alive

and put it back. It was still alive!

It's all Greek to me

It’s all Greek to me

This cat embodies the amount of activity  on the island

This cat embodies the amount of activity on the island

In the late afternoon, awash with golden light, we hiked amongst ancient stone walls and fields in Skarkos.

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This is Skarkos

This is Skarkos

Hello sheep

Hello sheep

succulents

succulents

lichen

lichen

Jeremy and me

Jeremy and I bundled up as the sun went down

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fig silhouette art

fig silhouette art

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Baby figs! Are they called figlets?

Baby figs! Are they called figlets?

Church and moon tiime

Church and moon time

Julian and the biggest portion of food that I've seen since I left the US

Julian and the biggest portion of food that I’ve seen since I left the US

Odd spacing of words

Odd spacing of words

Megan and I leaving our mark

Megan and I leaving our mark

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Last meal on the island - picnic style

Last meal on the island – picnic style

Bye bye Ios

Bye bye Ios. Glad we saw you in the low season.

The Day We Tried to Be Grecian Mountain Goats

The Day We Tried to Be Grecian Mountain Goats

If you picture Greek islands to be sunny with sandy beaches below hillsides of blue and white painted buildings, I’m sure you are correct somewhere. Here on the island of Naxos it is staggeringly mountainous. While we were there in late March, it was unseasonably rainy and cold. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop us from hiking. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe started up the hillside that had no trail.

Megan, Julian, and Jeremy taking a water break

Megan, Julian, and Jeremy taking a ‘vista break’.

It continued to be a steep uphill climb. 10 year old Julian led the way.

It continued to be a steep uphill climb. 10 year old Julian led the way.

We were literally climbing up the steep mountainside like goats, all the while hearing goat bells in the distance.

Julian and Jeremy at a landmark we could see from the beach

Julian and Jeremy at a landmark we could see from the beach

Megan and I on the mountainside while waves break below us.

On the mountainside while waves broke below us

With the wind blowing, and the clouds rolling in, it was sure to rain momentarily.

With the wind blowing and the clouds rolling in, it was sure to rain momentarily.

The clouds descended upon us and we were rained on. Luckily, just then, we found a shepherd (goatherd?) shelter made from stone. We took refuge there until the pouring rain passed.

Jeremy said during the rain storm, “The good news is that it will be nice and slippery on the way down.”

Jeremy said on the way up as it started to rain, “The good news is that it will be nice and slippery on the way down.” We got fairly soaked.

We got fairly soaked. Coming from hot Thailand, I was wearing all the layers I had.

As we hiked it smelled of goat poop and the occasional hint of sage.

Goat poop was everywhere

Goat poop was everywhere

Slippery, rocky, bushy, and thorny outcrops

Slippery, rocky, bushy, and thorny outcrops. While slipping, I got a few of these stuck in my hand.

The great thing about hiking with a 10 year old is discovering things that I wouldn’t notice as an adult – bouncy bushes.

I was surprised to see euphorbia, the alien looking plants I knew from Portland. I wondered about the name, so I looked it up. Euphorbia was named after Euphorbus, a Greek physician who supposedly discovered the plant in the 1st century AD.

I was surprised to see euphorbia – the alien looking plants I knew from Portland. I wondered about the name, so I looked it up and found Euphorbia was named after Euphorbus, a Greek physician who supposedly discovered the plant in the 1st century AD.

Megan when we reached the wall at the top

Megan at the wall on top of the mountain

Our nearly vertical descent

Our nearly vertical descent

although we could hear the sound of goats everywhere, they gamboled away from us and seemed to be very camera shy

Although we could hear the sound of goats everywhere, they gamboled away from us and seemed to be very camera shy

Julian, being the most agile of the four of us, scampered down the mountainside in no time. We lost sight of him for a while, but weren’t worried. We made up stories that he was out fishing on the beach. No, he’d caught two fish and was back drinking ouzo and playing backgammon with the locals while learning the Greek alphabet.

As we were nearly at the bottom of our descent, we had a wonderful surprise…

As we were nearly at the bottom of our descent we had a wonderful surprise - a baby goat, not even a kid yet.

…a baby goat, not even a kid yet.

Aww, he's so little.

Aww, he’s so little.

I was surprised how light he was. He was about the weight of a small cat.

I was surprised how light he was – about the weight of a small cat.

Needless to say, I loved this

Needless to say, I loved this.

So did Megan

So did Megan

He sounded almost like a baby and didn't want to leave our sides.

He sounded almost like a baby and didn’t want to leave our sides.

Although we were trying to leave him, we realized he was scared. We tried to keep walking him down the mountain toward other goats. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEventually, he seemed less afraid and there were other goats nearby. See you later baby goat.

Although we made up stories about what Julian was doing during the time it took us to get down the mountain, when we arrived on the beach we found he really had done something impressive.

Julian and his rock sculpture

Julian and his rock sculpture

Mom is impressed with her son.

Mom is proud of her son.

Bye bye baby goat camouflaged somewhere up there on the mountain. Thanks for making our day.

Bye bye baby goat camouflaged somewhere up there on the mountain. Thanks for making our day.

Hidden Hike in Chiang Mai to Wat Palad วัดผาลาด

Hidden Hike in Chiang Mai to Wat Palad วัดผาลาด

Chiang Mai is a little city with plenty to do. One of the things I love, even after living here for over 2 years, is that there are still hidden gems. Last week I found one of them: the hike to วัดผาลาด.

Though I am an avid hiker, in Thailand I rarely go. This is mainly due to the heat, and the mosquitoes and snakes don’t help any. Lately it’s been cool to cold in Chiang Mai (10C – that’s 50F) especially in the mornings. This is the perfect weather for a hike.

My friend Lauren asked me to come along. It wasn't a long hike, but it was beautiful.

My friend Lauren asked me to come along. It wasn’t a long hike, but it was beautiful.

It, like many places in Thailand, had a sign that made no sense...

It, like many places in Thailand, had a sign that made no sense…

Nowhere near a car park. What did they mean? No short skirts?

Nowhere near a car park. What did they mean? No short skirts?

After a fairy short hike we arrive at Wat Palad. Nagas and waterfalls.

After a fairly short hike we arrive at Wat Palad. Nagas and waterfalls.

Buddhas blessing each step.

Buddhas blessing each step.

When I got to this point, I had to stop and take in the beauty of the whole wat grounds in the forest. The soft sound of water rushing by, the elegance and the serenity of if all really wowed me. After having been to so many wats in this city, it’s nice to know there are still lovely surprises to be had.

Looking down at a hazy Chiang Mai

Looking down at a hazy Chiang Mai

The beginning of the Wat in the forest.

The beginning of the Wat in the forest.

Decorative door with Thai astrological animals on the sides.

Decorative door with Thai astrological animals on the sides.

Door detail

Door detail

Reminiscent of the Bayon temple at Ankor Wat

Reminiscent of the Bayon temple at Ankor Wat

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Amazing Ganesh door

Amazing Ganesh door

Another effeminate looking Ganesh

Another effeminate looking Ganesh

A gentle reminder to keep a...

A gentle reminder to keep one of these

Seeing this guy meditate there felt so serene. It made me want to do another meditation retreat...maybe here if women can

Seeing this guy meditate here felt so peaceful. It made me want to do another meditation retreat…maybe even at this wat if women are allowed. It was a very special place indeed.

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Window twin details

Window twin details

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Interesting ideas

Interesting ideas

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Looking down the nagas

Looking down the nagas

Nagas on the hillside

Nagas on the hillside

Hiking back down amongst the blessed trees.

Hiking back down amongst the blessed trees.

The whole place was so spiritual, even Lauren wanted to meditate...for about 3 seconds.

The whole place was so spiritual, even Lauren wanted to meditate…for about 3 seconds.

Bamboo forest

I will most certainly go on this hike to Wat Palad again.

If you look closely, you can see the spider inside.

If you look closely, you can see the spider inside.

So often it looks like autumn in Chiang Mai

So often it looks like autumn in Chiang Mai

Here's a map, if you can read it.

Here’s a map, if you can read it.

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