Author: Ellie Ashbrook

Program: CIS Summer in Thailand

Doi Chiang Dao, My Happy Place

It’s been my third week in Thailand, and I would say that  have become even more adventurous and more of a risk taker since the other week when I mentioned it. There’s this phrase that would describe Thailand’s motto, “Mai Pen Rai.” The phrase can be translated to English like, “you’re welcome” or “don’t mention it,” but when you ask a Thai person, they would say that the phrase has a deeper meaning. The phrase means, “It’s okay…everything is okay…don’t worry.”

My Buddhist philosophy teacher repeats this phrase to us when he goes into a discussion about Buddhism. The whole idea about Buddhism is that people practice the teachings of Buddhism to reach a state of mind where you have no worries. In other words, you stop what causes your suffering and your mind can be at peace. One main thing that causes suffering among a lot of individuals is attachment. My professor will always joke around with us that Americans can’t get enough of their iPhones (Thailand is a Samsung country). This is very true for teenagers and young adults because our phones become our everything.

Long story short, I ended up losing my phone this past weekend. The same day,  we went trekking in the most gorgeous, mind-blowing place. My group and I followed a guide named Three through the Doi Chiang Dao Mountains. He described every plant and why they are useful to humans. He even showed us how the village people cut the bamboo in such a way to create toys for their kids so they can entertain them while they cook and clean for the family.


Our guide also provided snacks on our trekking. We had these chocolate bar sweets called ‘Beng-Beng.’ They resemble a chocolate covered sugar wafer with a caramel fillings and have a crispy texture. We also ate Thailand Pineapple cookies. It was a coconut biscuit with pineapple jam. They were both delicious. Three took us through the village, and we saw how the Thai people lived in the countryside. It was very different from how the city people lived. These people made their children’s toys, their houses, clothes, and pretty much anything I can’t imagined doing for myself.

After trekking through the Mountains of Doi Chiang Dao, we stopped to have a lunch buffet, Thai style of course. There is nothing better than eating rice with every meal. Afterwards Three took us to the famous spot of Chiang Dao. The cambers are huge, but you can only walk so far until the cave becomes pitch black. It’s possible to see the unlit part of the caves, but the group was drained from the long hike. I’ll make that an excursion for the future (and so should you.)

Chiang Dao Cave

Chiang Dao Cave-Buddha Statue

That same day, I had lost my phone. I took the most beautiful pictures of trekking the mountains, and all I could do was accept the fact that I would have super boring blogs. I didn’t want losing my phone to ruin the rest of my trip That night, I repeated “mai pen rai” until I could fall asleep. I woke up the next morning and get ready for my next adventure, white water rafting in Mae Taeng River. I knew that I would only focus on surviving during this excursion. I had some time before we needed to meet, so I decided to take a walk around the area.

Morning Walk Scenery

I had no intention of finding my phone, but as I was walking several blocks away from my hotel, I heard the “note” tone go off. I know that this was an iPhone and kept looking on the ground while I walked. Mai pen rai, there was my phone with a text from my mom. Although I don’t have pictures of my white rafting trip because my phone died shortly after finding it, I am able to show you my happy place in Thailand. A detachment from something that we see or use in our everyday lives can be a difficult adjustment but try to remember the phrase, “mai pen rai.” Everything will be okay.