There are so many experiences I could write about and draw with words.
But instead, I choose the simple stuff. Escaping from the bustle of Chiang Mai, the twelve of us venture in two song thaews (red trucks with two benches), loaded with ginger gravol and peppermint essential oil. Weaving through peaceful rice fields and around mountainous greenery, and then up and up the heights, we arrive.
Later, I walk beside a gentle stream beside a deep verdant forest. The ground below me is reddish like I would imagine PEI’s dirt to be like. Little streams trickle past to join the big one. I step over. Up a little knoll, I glimpse, as do my classmates, and we can see a collection of small buildings. Our guides tell us this is where the Karen’s school is and we can play games with the children in a minute. Then they say it. The ‘s’ word.
I had been groaning to one of our Thai university buddies that I had been wanting to play soccer for weeks, but I did not expect my only opportunity to be with children up to my waist. But they were good. And they kicked our butts.
All the young boys from the community sized us up as we tried to communicate if we should mix teams. None of that seemed it would happen. Us against them. The ball hit the pavement and the game was on.
Their best player was uniquely talented and most likely would have been recruited for competitive games at home. His fellow mates fed him the ball and he would attempt to break through our wall of defense.
Ah okay, one for them. I ran around giggling to myself as I had one of the best times in my life. I felt like I was fourteen again and that my hips were too wide and my limbs too long as I attempted to maneuver around so many little figures. The goalie was all in as he dove on the hard pavement to save a goal.
The glee on their faces was obvious too. Silly farang, they’re not very good. Passing was almost pointless because there were so many swarms of them. I longed to tell them how good they were and to encourage them, but I just put my thumb up and laughed with them. Even our very little Thai was no good there. We would have played for hours if the unseasonal rain would have stayed away. We were all soaked but happy until the guide shooed the children away in fear of them getting sick. Score: 5-1. For them.
Sadly, we allowed the ball to be picked up and ran to shelter. Another wonderful moment was gone. Just like climbing the hill again in our song thaews to say goodbye. Small smiling faces and waving hands soon disappeared into a blur as we journeyed away. Yet they exist on. How many beautiful places like this exist in this vast world, that I neither know about nor need me to know about them. Their existence depends on Someone else, and not me. Who knew such a simple place could fulfill my desires so aptly.