“Traveling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
This morning, my friends and I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to go see the sunrise at the top of Doi Suthep, a mountain in Chiang Mai that houses Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of its most famous temples. I’m not much of a planner but thanks to Pui, our city guide, I was able to arrange for a red truck to come pick us up at 5 a.m., take us to the top of the mountain and wait for us while we went inside the temple. I was so excited I could barely sleep all night!
The driver picked us up at 5 a.m. sharp and at 5:05 a.m. we were on our way. It’s funny because on the way, my friends and I were talking about “story telling.” We all agree that we’ve done some amazing things on this trip but that doesn’t really make them a story worth sharing. And then...the car stopped, which would end up making our car ride up to the temple, a story worth telling.
I saw the driver get out of the car to go see what was holding up traffic. I got out shortly after and saw that he signaled for me to come and take pictures. I guess because of the rain, a tree had fallen over and completely blocked all four-car lanes. I thought for sure we were going to miss the sunrise and that we would have to turn back around. Less than a minute later, a man pulls out a chainsaw from his car and starts sawing away at the tree. With the help of our driver and the other men who happened to be there, the tree was chopped up into pieces and moved out of the way in no time. It was still dark out so my pictures didn’t come out as clear but just imagine a man dressed in shorts, a white tee and some flip flops, with a chainsaw and a cigarette in his mouth, cutting away at the fallen tree. He made it look so effortless. My friends and I just stood there and watched, like, is this really happening right now at 5:30 in the morning? In less than 5 minutes, we were back on the road.
The driver dropped us off at the temple’s base and pointed us in the direction we had to walk to reach the temple. I was hoping the rain would stop but it had only gotten stronger. Luckily, the driver let me borrow his umbrella. It was a Mickey Mouse umbrella, which made me smile because if you know me at all, then you know how much I love all things Disney! We got out and proceeded to walk up the 309 stairs to get to the temple. By the time we got to the temple, it was pouring but that just made this experience that much more magical.
We entered the temple, bare feet and properly dressed, and couldn’t believe how beautiful it was to experience this in the rain while it was still dark out and better yet, with no one around. We admired the temple grounds and took some of the most amazing pictures. We quietly walked around as there were monks chanting inside one of the rooms. This inspired us to sit down and meditate for a while.
I’m not much for meditating so I didn’t really know what I was doing. I sat down in front of the Buddha with my legs crossed, making sure my toes weren’t pointed towards the Buddha as it is a sign of disrespect, and I closed my eyes. I had so many thoughts racing through my head that I had to try really hard to focus on just being there.
Finally, after trying so hard to rid my mind of all these thoughts, I was able to just be. As I thought of nothing, I could hear the soothing sounds of the rain and feel the wind on my back and for that short moment in time, I felt at peace with myself. It was a really special moment, to meditate at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep that early in the morning before the sunrise. My mom always says that whenever you enter a sacred place, you should make a wish. Today, at Doi Suthep, I wished for peace of mind. I wish to be at peace with my decision to travel, which has unfortunately upset a few people. They will probably never understand my desire to travel and that’s ok. Moments like these fill me with such peace and serenity and it helps me let go of any negative energy. When I opened my eyes, it was a new day.
After that powerful meditation session, we walked to the look-out point where you could see the city of Chiang Mai. The rain was starting to die down but the sky was still cloudy and the fog was like a blanket over the city. The sun was trying so hard to peak through the clouds. It was like, the sky and the city were slowly developing, like a polaroid, in front of our very eyes. It was truly an incredible experience. I thought to what my family and friends were doing back home while I was experiencing this and how much I wish they could see what I’m seeing. This morning was such a beautiful moment in time and no amount of pictures or words could ever describe the feeling I had of just being there and taking it all in.
This morning was such a beautiful moment in time and no amount of pictures or words could ever describe the feeling I had of just being there and taking it all in.