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Photo by Tessa Denison

Our First night @ Huai Hin Lad Nai Homestay, Chiangrai Northern Thailand

Winter is coming. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine cold in tropical countries like Thailand when you come from snowy countries like Canada. Our trip has been amazing so far, leaving such a cool city like Chiangmai and heading up north 3 hours away to Chiangrai province, which is the border to Myanmar and Lao. Our homestay village called Huai Hin Lad Nai, which means “The rock creek village inside the forest,” and is the home of PGA K’ YAW indigenous people who have been living here for more than a thousand years. The Elder shared with us:

” oa tee ger toa tee, oa gaw ger toa gaw ”

which in PGA K’ YAW language means

” drink water, taking care of water

get benefits from forest, taking the forest”

Simple humans like us live simply, as Mother Earth taught us generations through generations. PGA K’ YAW means “simple human.”

The first experience in the village has given a surprising impression to our students who have never experienced a homestay before. They all expressed that “Wow! this is so much nicer than I was expected!” We were welcomed warmly by the cultural head of the village, our host families, and the youth group. All of us are so excited to learn and exchange with the people here!

After settling into the homes that our hosts kindly opened for all of us as one of their family members, we got to relax and explore this small village, making sure everyone understood where things are and connected them to the elders and youth, exchanging stories about Canada and Thailand.

The first night experience was shared at our morning check-in circle as well as with the youth group in the village. Surprisingly, everyone expresses how the cold here is different from home. Even at home in Canada, minus 30 degrees is really chilly, but its not like here where 5-10 degrees can be so cold! Because here people do not have heaters or hot showers, the warm place for people is near the fireplace, gathering both outside the house and in the kitchen where people share stories and drink hot tea. Another warm place is under the blankets, so some people wear a pile of blankets on their bodies. Going to the bathroom at night (the toilets are outside of the houses) is something people want to avoid – haha – but you have to sometimes. Some of us enjoy it though because you can see thousands of stars that you have not seen before. Another thing that some of us mentioned during our check-in were the roosters who sing during the night, some of them singing at 1-2 am or 3-4 am. This caused some of us to wake up during the night. We hope we get used to that soon so that we all can rest well! Finally, we all shared about what we ate for our first breakfast, and all of us have enjoyed the food so far.

Today our group is learning about the forest through a hike around this small village and visiting the Grandma Big Tree.

We hope to share more beautiful stories about our trip in the next few days, but for now the Yak Board will be quieter as we immerse ourselves in this special place.