Spoiler alert: Thailand is very hot. Which makes hiking probably not the best idea. But that didn’t stop our research team from stumbling through the jungle for samples. We followed our guide who would hack our way through, and had a gun on his back ‘just in case’. In case of what, I am unsure. But I didn’t want to find out. And yes, I will say it. All in the name of science. The jungle was beautiful, but I was being slow roasted. Which meant that in about eight hours I would be nice and tender. Which is not how I planned on spending the rest of my day. Though somehow I survived, with a new appreciation of saunas.
After that project was complete and we had a night to recover, we were whisked off to a far off land. By that I mean we went to the border of Thailand and Myanmar.
We attempted to cross the border, but were told ‘foreigners aren’t allowed’ by some officials. Which was rather disappointing, but we sauntered through the border market instead. Some clay was put on my face in a pattern that from what I understand makes your skin soft? Most of the local women around had this as well, so I felt pretty cool.
After making some touristy purchases, and visiting a local restaurant where you sat on the floor, they told us we were going on a boat ride. I did not realize how tiny the boat would be, but it was quite the experience. We darted through the river, around half sunken trees and fellow boaters. We traveled over the remains of an old town, now flooded as a result of a dam. Parts can only been seen in the dry season. It was very beautiful. We saw temples overpowered by nature, and even an old hospital that was definitely haunted.
We found a vendor selling small fish and turtles to be released by people who want to collect good karma. However, apparently they just go catch them and sell the opportunity to some other passerby. On our way out with the boat we noticed a child doing exactly that.
The boat tour was a great way to see the area; which was wonderful, and the people were very friendly.
After some further discussion about the next case, and a few village-wide power outages, we went to bed. But only for a short time, as there was much work to be done. We had an early morning adventure to give offerings of food to monks. I had heard of these practices, and was very excited to take part for myself. We were dressed in traditional clothes, and I had the same clay put on my face. The monks walked down the hill and collected offerings from everyone in a very systematic manner. giving it to men with baskets to carry. This is done every morning and afternoon.
I watched a lot of documentaries as a child, and continue to do so now. Sometimes I get to go to the amazing places, and do the amazing things that I watched as a kid. This was one of those moments. I am truly grateful for all that I have experienced in life, even if it occasionally involves hiking up the side of a mountain in 40 degree weather. I get to work with my passions and live my dreams. What else could you ask for?