Today we set out on another grand adventure from the beautiful, serene Golden Pine Resort in Chiang Rai, located in northern Thailand. On our way out we stumbled across a small elementary school that had hundreds of people gathered in its front school yard! Most of the people were children, and there were games and booths and balloons all around. Our tour guide exclaimed that today was the National holiday of Children's Day in Thailand-- and this was their children's day celebration. We got to stop by for a little bit and explore the holiday some more. It was so fun and exciting, and as a group we decided that the United States MUST adopt this joyous and festive holiday, too!
After stopping at the school, we swung by a traditional Akha (a small hillside tribe of Northern Thailand) village that was a "living museum"-- we actually got to walk through the village and see small parts of their culture and daily life. It was so intriguing, and the elder women of the tribe were all dressed in outfits of colorful patterned leggings and tunics, as well as headdresses that were completely adornedwith colorful beads and pieces of silver. Such a rainbow of a culture--it made me wish we could dress like that on a daily basis (these outfits were warm, too!).
The last and longest part of our day was spent exploring the hillsides of Mae Salong, an area in the Chiang Rai province that used to be notorious for cultivating opium due to its higher elevation, but is now known around the world for its fields (and fields and fields) of different types of tea! We pulled over at a tea shop and indulged in some "five star" Oolong Tea, some of which the entire group just had to take home, and enjoyed the tastes and sounds and smells of the beautiful northern countryside. For a moment it really felt as though our group could have been living there. Sipping on a steaming little cup of tea, I gazed out over the smooth, rolling hills and the seemingly endless rows of tea plants as the evening sun transformed the countryside into a living rainbow of rich hues and colors. It was so captivating. I'm sure that every time any one of us brews some of the Oolong Tea that was purchased that afternoon, a small piece of us will be taken back to that enchanting evening spent in Mae Salong.