Sa-Wa-Dee-Ca! Hello!

Sa Wa Dee Ca! Dishan pben nak-sik-sah gap yoo rhat Chiang Mai potate Thailand.

Hello! I am a student in the city of Chiang Mai in Thailand.

It has truly been amazing living here for the past 3 weeks, but definitely a culture shock. We are taking intensive Thai language for 3 hours everyday and it is hard. I mean REALLY difficult. Thai language has 44 different characters, and 5 different tones that you can speak in. For example- the word that is pronounced “cow” could mean white, her/he, the first half of “I understand” or rice depending on the tone in your voice when you pronounce it. So, you could probably see how it would get confusing when someone asks cow shu aray? (who is she) and the answer is arroy! (delicious!). We are only third week Thai students so the fact that we are picking up on any words is a win for us. In fact, we have recently been able to order food in Thai which means we are treated as locals and get the local discount :).

Last weekend, we were able to go to Mok Fah Waterfall which is on the mountain of Doi Suthep. We spent three days on retreat there with 15 Thai university students learning, playing, hiking, and swimming in the most beautiful waterfall. We also got our first real taste of how gnarly the bugs are in Thailand. We spent a good 15 minutes being told how to avoid contact with scorpions and how to decipher which centipedes and millepedes are dangerous. Also it seems like the bugs here are on steroids- the beetles are longer than my ring finger, the moths are the size of my palm, and there are large green bugs that are the length of my foot that really like to fly and land on people. Not to mention the squatty potty bathrooms were located very openly outside so its not the best feeling when you are peeing in the middle of the night and a large green bug decides that it wants to befriend you at that exact time.

That being said, we were able to go on this amazing hike up the waterfall with a park ranger who explained the uses of many different plant species. He explained how this one leaf was able to heal a cough by being eaten and also was able to heal a headache by being boiled. He showed us a tree that had white sap that was poisonous so hunters would cover their arrow in sap so that when the arrow hit the animal it would get into their blood stream and kill them.

This past weekend we went to a fish farm in rural Chiang Mai where we literally helped harvest fish. We began by getting waist deep in murky water and dragging a net across a pond all together where there were foot long fish that would just decide to jump out of the water and hit you in the face. After we caught the fish we brought them to this other small pond where we caralled them into small areas so that we could check if they were male or female. To do this, we had to catch the fish with our bare hands, open their mouths and check if there were eggs inside. If there were, we had to shake the fish like a salt shaker with its mouth open in order to collect the eggs. This seems inhumane, but the point was that the fish won’t eat if its eggs are in its mouth, so we were taking the eggs to allow the fish to eat and to incubate the eggs so that more would survive. It was probably one of the most rogue things I have done, but it was beautiful to learn about the fish farming culture.


This week we go to an elephant farm on Friday, and then spend our last weekend with our host families before we start our expedition section where we backpack and sea kayak throughout Thailand. More news to come soon!


Aria Nicoletti