Thailand, Part 2

The suspense has been building. Are you ready to hear more of my trip to Thailand?

Last we talked, my sisters and I boarded a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It was 7 PM and we were scheduled to arrive in the northern station the following morning around 9 AM. There are a couple of different options for this overnight train when booking your tickets, but we chose the #13 because the sun would be up while we were arriving. Our hope was that we would be able to glimpse the Chiang Mai countryside; Mountains, rice paddies, and lots of green foliage. Once on the train we found our seats and prepared to depart. In the meantime, there were people milling about, stowing their baggage, finding their seats and an older Thai woman selling chips for “cheap cheap”.

Shortly after sitting down Leah got up to use the restroom but returned thereafter and exclaimed, “I’ll think I’ll wait until we are out of the station”. Why? We wondered. Apparently, the “toilet” was a hole in the floor of the train seeing straight through to the ground. This was the first of many commodes we would encounter that had us saying, “Man, you have got to see the bathroom!”

As the train pulled out of the station, we chatted with the Canadian seated in our section and passed the phone back-and-forth as we played “Heads Up”. At bedtime the train staff appeared, efficiently transformed our seats into beds then disappeared again. We drew our individual curtains shut and closed our eyes to the gentle rocking of the train down the tracks.

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The Thai people like to describe areas of their country by assigning it a temperature – hot, hotter, hottest; Chiang Mai rings in on this scale as hot. Upon our arrival the day was just beginning to warm up, a weight of humidity dripping from the clouds. Our ride, exactly on time, piled us into a van with other travelers and one-by-one dropped us at our respective accommodations. The AirBnb rental we booked wouldn’t allow us to check in until early afternoon, however, we were lucky to be able to drop our bags at the front lobby and head to the Old City to pass the time.

Chiang Mai City is the old capitol of the Lan Na Kingdom and the Old City is surrounded by a moat and wall to protect its citizens from enemies.

We reached this after a short 20 minute walk down a winding road. Once past the gates of the Old City one finds a network of streets in a grid-pattern that is approximately “one cigarette” in length. Meaning, to walk from one corner of the Old City to the next you should be able to smoke exactly one cigarette [This was never verified as none of us actually smoke cigarettes, but if you go to Thailand and smoke, let me know the verdict!]. Compared to the hustle and bustle of cars, buses and tuk tuks outside the gates, the Old City has an air of peacefulness and calm.

In Chiang Mai we did a lot of things. We got Thai body massages [AMAZING], drank more Thai Tea, went on an excursion to the highest point in Thailand at Doi Inthanon [Doi means mountain], visited an organic farm and learned the magic of cooking traditional Thai dishes, bathed and fed elephants, hiked to a waterfall, went swimming in said waterfall, took a yoga class and discovered a local park tucked into the corner of the Old City. We booked all of our day trips through local tourist agencies that are very easy to find. It’s overwhelming because of all the options, but we went with our guts, and most importantly made sure that the elephant sanctuaries did not allowing riding.


Thai Body Massages, Day 1:

The Thai people love massage and it’s easy to see why once you’ve had one. For ~300 baht [or $6] you can get a one hour, full-body massage that incorporates deep tissue kneading and stretching. First you change into these outfits – for newbies, the pants tie in the front! All three of us put our pants on backwards and the massage ladies giggled as they told us to turn them around. Then they started with washing our feet and finished with your massaging our heads. We walked away feeling refreshed, declaring we would have one massage every day until the end of our trip.


Doi Inthanon National Park, Day 2:

Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand and is where the late King Inthanon’s burial site is located. We drove ~1 hour in a bus climbing steeply up the mountain side to reach a pair of waterfalls, Wachriathan and Sirithan. Our tour guide loved our short hikes and explained how as it was durian season, we needed our exercise [Durian is a fruit loaded with sugar. It has a very stinky smell though and can be quite difficult to find in the local markets].

From there we continued our drive further up the mountain, reaching the highest point and the burial site. The further we climbed into the atmosphere the more chilly, windy, and misty the air around us became. A vibe that translated deep respect and importance for the site we were visiting. To the Thai people, the King is of great importance and must be respected at all times, even in memorial.

Next, we drove to the King and Queen’s pagodas surrounded by a botanical gardens. It was a lovely sight, and even lovelier as the clouds began to shift and a view of the valley opened up below.

Our final stop of the day was the Karen Hilltribe village where we played with the most adorable puppy and bought some seriously comfy Thai pants.


Smile Organic Farm Cooking School, Day 3:

Another 1 hour bus ride and we arrived at the farm and cooking classroom. We signed up for an evening course and learned to cook traditional Thai dishes as the sun set over the Chiang Mai mountains. The farm was beautiful, growing everything we needed for our meal. We even got to walk around and pick some fresh herbs and flowers for plating. The Thai chili peppers are so small, so be careful when working with them. I accidentally ate an entire green pepper, thinking it was a green bean – it was SPICY. Anyone that wants to come over and enjoy a Thai dinner is welcome!




Elephant Sanctuary and Waterfall Hike, Day 4:

We were transported out of the city once again, this time to an elephant sanctuary. Elephants used to be employed and owned by families that would clear areas of the forest for farming use. However, the Thai government has outlawed the use of elephants for this type of labor. As a result there are many families that can no longer afford the care necessary to keep an elephant – they eat tremendous amounts of food each day! Hence, elephant sanctuaries. We went to a smaller location compared to some of the more popular retirement facilities, but it was still a great experience. We got to hand-feed bananas to the elephants and bathed them in a small pool on the property. Elephant’s mouths are like vacuums! They will use their trunks to grab banana after banana, and they will keep on eating unless the trainers limit their food.

Last, but not least, we spent a morning sleeping in, sweating it out in a yoga class, and laughing at the park.

Chiang Mai City was a full, bursting at the seams experience.


From hot we were now about to travel to hottest, the Andaman Sea.

Sorry Daryll

Let me tell you a story, about a time [1 week ago] that I learned that people usually aren’t “nice and want to help you with your yard work”. 

Here in Atlanta there are A LOT of trees that translates to A LOT of leaves. I’m pretty sure that the house I rent has not had a proper rake job done in at least 5 years. Now, I know it’s not my job as a renter to do the upkeep and yard work, but I want to be proud of the space I inhabit. I want to walk up to my front door and not cringe because of how bad our yard looks. 

On Saturday I borrowed a rake, grabbed a bunch of bags and set to clean up the leaves. I was mid-leaf raking and weed pulling when this older man walked up with his lawn mower and rake in tow. He asked, “Would you like some help?” I hesitated a moment and looked around; it seemed like I had it handled. I was slowly chugging away with one half of the yard and there was plenty of daylight left. It was when he suggested that he could work on the other half AND that he had pruners to help with the bushes that I agreed. 

We both turned, started working on our sides of the yard, and it was at this point that I started to feel weird about the whole thing. First of all, why was this random guy walking around with a lawn mower and all the tools the do yard work? Second, I was the only person home and while it was the middle of the day I still wondered if I should text my roommates. [Uh oh, my phone was in the house]. As all of these thoughts are racing through my head, I’m pulling weeds and pushing leaves into bags. Finally, I think, “gosh, he probably wants me to pay him!”

Upon this epiphany, I looked over and said, “Daryll, I’m sorry but I think I misunderstood you. I actually don’t have any money to give you”.  He huffed and gave a retort at how did I expect him to do the work for free, then stomped off with his lawn mower. Whoops. 

Moral of the story? 

  • Random strangers don’t want to help you with your yard work. 
  • There is always an ulterior motive. 
  • I am super naïve. 

Always Enough

I recently started reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. First, this book has been on my list for some time and I am excited to finally have the chance to read it. Second, I always struggle a bit to start these books that cover topics important to my current life. The stories that point out the things I need to work on and think through bring up all kinds of weird emotions, and I have a much more difficult time finishing them as opposed to a fun novel [it took me 5 days to finish “A Man Called Ove”]. I’ve only read to page 72 but every page has words on it that speak to me, something that challenges me, or something that makes me think – “well duh”.

I wrote a couple of months ago about my desire to make the most of my remaining time in Atlanta. I desired to do something meaningful, something with impact, something that would make a difference not only in my life, but in the lives of the community around me. In this desire I have been challenged to act, but along with the push towards action has been the pull of a fear of failure.

Now, I know I’m not the only one that fears failure. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown describes our culture as one of scarcity, as one of “never enough”. From not enough sleep each night to not enough resources to get the things done on your to-do list, we are constantly fed the phrase “never enough”. This cycle negatively impacts our psyche as we approach tackling the challenges and goals in our lives, taking risks and ultimately connecting on a deeper level with those around us. Early in the book, Brené describes a moment she has right before she goes out on stage at TED –

“Then, seconds before I was introduced, I thought about a paperweight on my desk that reads, ‘What would you attempt to do if you you knew you could not fail’…As I walked up to the stage, I literally whispered aloud, ‘What’s worth doing even if I fail’“?

Woah. Let me ask that again and let it really sink in – What’s worth doing even if I fail?

When you ask yourself this question, what in your life is worth pursuing even if you fail? What sort of emotions does this question stir up in you?

Honestly, those 7 words freak me out. They challenge me to try the things I am passionate about – to try being a leader, to try using the voice that I’ve been gifted with, and to try the things I haven’t done because I am so afraid of failing that I plan, and plan some more before I decide I am ready to take it on.

On April 29th I’m hiking 28.3 miles in less than 24 hours, and I’m raising $2400 for something I feel is incredibly important – childhood cancer research. I am terrified that I will fail and that I will not even get the chance to try to hike because I didn’t raise all of the funds. I am worried that I will let down the people that depend on the research that will discover the cure to their cancer. Yet, somewhere deep in the middle of all the self-doubt I feel peace and I am jumping head first into this adventure, trusting that when we run after the things we are passionate about God runs beside us.

 


While monetary donations are one of the obvious ways you can help me reach my goal, I need hiking partners, prayers and people to share this cause with their community.

We think that we don’t matter, that our small contributions can’t make a difference, but I have witnessed first hand how powerful a collective effort can be. For more information, visit my fundraising website here and/or email me at mgracehuey@gmail.com

Radical Love

One of my friends recently let me borrow her copy of Love Does. It’s a fabulous book written by Bob Goff as a testament to what it looks like when we wholly and completely love others. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – what would it look like to live this way? To go all in and simply love people without the mess of personal agendas?

I was in the midst of contemplating answers to these questions and starting to draft this post when I made a cup of Yogi tea. [I love the little bits of wisdom that come with each cup and I love them even more when they seem to speak right at me. It’s like I was meant to have that exact tea bag at the exact time I opened it]. The quote on my chai black tea read – “It is not talking of love, but living in love that is everything”.

So, in this month of love let’s be radical about it. Let’s throw off our inhibitions and leap with faith into simply loving people.


What are some tangible ways you can love people today? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Set the Table

“Success in your twenties is more about setting the table than enjoying the feast” – Paul Angone


When I saw this quote on Instagram the other day I could immediately relate. These days there is so much pressure from society telling us we need to have it all together and you be well on your way in this world.

In reality though, are we all well on our way in this world? Like ever? The question becomes then – when do we really start our lives?

What a radical idea would it be to think that our lives have already begun? For real though!

Life. It’s what is happening right under our noses as we continue to cross months off the calendar in preparation for those big moments. [I’m talking about graduating school, getting married, starting a family, achieving success in your career, etc]. Now, I don’t want to dim the lights on the significance of these events because they are important. I’m also not going to lie when I tell you that this is something I struggle with. I’m often comparing my life to other people’s highlight reels and I see a gaping hole in the shape of another person.

Why am I still single? Why haven’t I found the one yet? I will be truly happy when I have a boyfriend. This is the seemingly last piece to the puzzle.

But wait! What about that time today that you ran a little further or when the memory of sitting criss cross apple sauce on skis made you laugh?

So, does the party start before or after I set the table? If I get to choose – and believe it or not, I do – then I choose now. I’ll set the table in between belly laughs and clinks of glasses. In between tears of joy, sadness, and pain. In between the big moments because this is my party and I don’t want to be late.


Yesterday my parents decided to put down our childhood dog. Sienna was old, hasn’t been doing well the last few months and seeing her when I went home for Christmas was hard. She just wasn’t the same pup I’ve known for all these years, so while I’m sure going to miss her loyal spirit, cute face, and boundless energy I know doggie heaven is just the place for her.

Uno mas, por favor

Happy Blog-iversary!!!!

It has been one full year – 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours – since I started on this journey in finding the grace within our everyday lives. I want to send a big THANK YOU out into the universe for all of you that have read my posts in this last year. Thank you for your words of encouragement, it really means the world to me [x10000000000 thank you].

I’ve enjoyed having this space to share my thoughts, struggles, and adventures. Writing posts for my blog has come to be something I look forward to each week – something I use to help reset after a crazy, busy week at work or even as a way to form complete thoughts on a theme that keeps appearing in my life. Normally I am not super creative, as a scientist I practice creativity in a very different way from the traditional sense. We carefully design experiments and then meticulously execute them with special attention paid to precision and accuracy. Writing Glimpse of Grace has allowed me to become creative outside of scientific rigor, and for that I am thankful.

As I jump into this new year – 2017 – I do so with a continued desire to be present. To be intimately engaged with this wonderful life we’ve been so fortunate to have been given. I have 6 months left in Atlanta, and my greatest fear is that I will spend those months checking the days off the calendar. Deep within my soul, I desire to make the most of those days in a way that honors God, presence, and connection. I don’t have a clear vision of what that will look like yet, but I will continue to share my journey along the way.

I’ve always been a storyteller [ask anyone from my childhood], so here I am writing down my story. Let’s see where this narrative takes us.


*The tea I enjoyed was from the local coffee bar – Taproom Coffee & Beer. I highly recommend this place for catching up with friends.

Breath In

2016 is winding down rapidly and like the whirlwind this year has been we will soon find ourselves in 2017. I cherish the changing of the seasons and the new year both as time to reflect. Time to look back, think deeply, then celebrate extravagantly how far we’ve come. There’s hardly anything I love more than raising a glass to the wonderful experiences and people in my life.

Cheers to the moments this year that brought you closer with your loved ones.

Cheers to the new experiences you tried and failed at, but then tried again.

Cheers to being strong, to working hard, to connecting.

Cheers to following your dreams and realizing that sometimes  all the time, timing is everything.

Cheers to laughter.


In the final weeks of 2016 I’m heading back home to CO. My suitcase holds more yoga pants, snow gear, and ski socks than it does regular clothes. I can’t wait for the adventures and laughs to come. I’ll probably write about them here later – until then, have a very merry christmas and maybe try your hand at the following recipe! My friend Haley made this for me and now I’m hooked —

Golden Milk [serves 1]:

Heat on the stove ~1 cup almond milk.

Sprinkle in a dash of cinnamon, ginger, and tumeric.

Mix until combined and simmering.

Top with marshmallows and serve with a cinnamon stick.

Happy Holidays!

 

Stay Classy//San Diego

It was Monday and I was wiped. I flopped onto my hotel bed, exhausted. I was in San Diego for a conference that had me walking back and forth across the length of the convention center from one grand ballroom to the next. It was jam-packed with science but I was determined to escape and see a bit of San Diego, so I “rested my eyes” for 15 minutes and crossed the street from the convention center to the Gaslamp District of San Diego. A neat little district in downtown San Diego [a little too touristy for my taste]. From there I hailed an uber to whisk me away to the famous Balboa Park.

I had no plans, only that I wanted to explore and I heard there were trails at the park.

Tucked away in the middle of the park is a hidden gem – the Japanese Garden. The space boasts a collection of bonsai, cherry trees, and koi fish. Meandering paths lead you along, with stepping stones and waterfalls throughout. It’s a beautiful place. If you are in San Diego with an extra $8 in your pocket it’s worth every cent.


Other places I ventured that I recommend? I thought you would never ask —

For good eats –

  1. The Blind Burro – their quesadilla is GIANT so come hungry or be willing to share. The jalepeño margarita is pretty good too.
  2. BeShock – Two words. Ramen and Saki.

Short trip, short list.

Saki, saki, saki 

Bomb, bomb, bomb.

5 Beautiful Things

To round out this season of thankfulness, gratitude, and joy my cousin Katie has issued her own form of challenge. Katie is the creator of the blog – 52Beautiful Things. She uses her platform to illuminate beautiful things she encounters each and every week. Katie was a huge inspiration to me when I first started on my blog journey and so I am pleased to be able to contribute in my own small way to her page.

The challenge is to describe 5 beautiful things you encounter within your own life and you can read all of mine —> HERE.

– THEN –

Maybe consider submitting your own to her. As a bonus, if you decide to write out your beautiful things you will be entered into a small contest for a basket of Colorado goodies. I’m sure that could even be one of your beautiful things!


As an aside, I submitted my piece to Katie around lunch time today and then proceeded to escape the conference for a jaunt at Balboa Park [San Diego]. It was at the park that I stumbled upon a small Japanese garden. A hidden gem within the heart of the city. A place of quiet solitude, beauty, and grace. I found myself wishing I had waited to press send so I could add this in, but then I was reminded that we live a continuous journey with beauty waiting around every corner.

30 Days.

At the beginning of November I threw a challenge out into the Universe. A challenge to document the tiny things you are grateful for each day in an attempt to cultivate a life filled with gratitude. My point being, that joy stems from our gratitude and practicing thankfulness might – ahem, will –  just lead to happiness.

When I first started this challenge my jar seemed impossibly large. I kept thinking to myself, “how could I possibly have something different to be grateful for each day?” Yet, each day something small came to mind that made me smile, or remember what was good. Even better were the days when I would experience a moment and immediately think to myself, “Wow, that was fantastic. That is what’s going in the jar tonight.” So, with each day, my pile of paper got a little bit bigger and I felt my heart grow more joyful [less frustrated] with where I’m at in this crazy life.

Listed below are just a few of the [unedited] things I found myself feeling lucky to have experienced within the last 30 days —

  1. I’m thankful for good hairstylists. FINALLY.
  2. I’m thankful for my crockpot + quick + tasty dinner!
  3. I’m thankful for old friends and talking on the phone for hours.
  4. I’m thankful for packages in the mail @ the end of a long day.
  5. Today I’m thankful for doing a workout @ a weight I wasn’t sure I could do. Pushing myself to be better.
  6. I’m thankful for chocolate when I’m feeling bloated.
  7. I’m thankful for falling leaves. With all of the trees here in ATL a strong breeze makes the leaves dance and fall like snowflakes.
  8. I’m thankful for MARTA.
  9. I’m thankful for a house full of people.
  10. I’m thankful for the ability to write + for the courage to share my heart with others.
  11. Facetiming with my crazy family today!
  12. I’m thankful for my finances, but also cheap/quality clothes on a budget.

What were you thankful for this month? Let’s celebrate gratitude together!