Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Weekend Outing to Chiang Dao... and the Shambhala Festival!

It was such a wonderful first week at Cultural Canvas Thailand, getting to know the individuals at CCT and visiting partner organizations all around Chiang Mai. As luck and timing would have it, I would spend my first weekend in Northern Thailand camping in Chiang Dao. It was a perfect way to reflect on my first week surrounded by breathtaking nature, creativity in various forms of art & expression, and positivity!

The volunteers at the house packed our bags and got ready to start our journey! Being only 1-1.5 hours away from Chiang Mai, Chiang Dao is easy to get to by bus / red truck or by scooter. Just be prepared to get comfy with your neighbor on the bus with three to a seat: a bonding experience! 

Before we had even arrived, we had heard so many varying accounts of what Shambhala in Your Heart Festival would be like. From what we could gather, it was an eclectic music and art festival that had significant influences from Japanese culture. In arriving, we learned that the origin of Shambhala in Your Heart was when two artists from Japan were inspired to create a festival for a community of musicians, artists, and everyone in between. We met people from all over the world who came to experience the uniqueness of the festival at Doi Luang Youth Camp. 

Throughout the weekend, I was almost always amazed at the overwhelming beauty that was around us. Doi Luang Mountain seemed impossibly close; the hot spring was incredibly relaxing; the stars seemed especially vibrant; even the butterflies seemed more beautiful and colorful. It was easy to lose track of time listening to music accompanied by a range of voices and instruments from acoustic guitar to didgeridoo, practicing yoga, reading in the library, meeting travellers by the campsite or bonfire, and watching artists create.

The feeling of community was so evident and could be seen in the kindness of interactions between friends and strangers alike. Shambhala created an open and creative environment where people could share their thoughts, passions, and talents. The CCT team returned back to Chiang Mai full of inspiration, happiness, and ideas for the weeks ahead. 

By Anna Kim

Friday, February 6, 2015


I don’t even know how to start telling how wonderful this experience was for me. As I said before, everyone was just so kind and welcoming! But aside from that, I definitely need to say how Chiang Mai was beyond any of my expectations. I just love how the city is surrounded by rivers, how street food is the best and the cheapest, and how you feel so safe walking at night. That being said, I do have to point out my favorite places / attractions:  The Elephant Nature Park , Zoe’s, Bus Bar, Tiddin, Sunday Walking Street Market, Doi Suthep and the Night Bazaar.

As for my teaching project, it was wonderful! As the kids got to know me, they were asking for my autograph (it was crazy, I loved it!) and kept telling me they loved me and were making “I Love You” hand-signs. It was too sweet. On my last day of teaching, everyone seemed pretty upset I was leaving. During the morning one of the teachers I was closer to gave me a scarf and said she was going to miss me! 

At lunch time they asked me to go up to the stage in the cafeteria and make a farewell announcement. I just didn’t know what to say, it was very unexpected, so I just thanked all of them, said it was wonderful, and that I was really going to miss everything and everyone. After that, a couple of kids gave me a teddy bear with “Thank You Teacher” written on a piece of paper and some Thai treats! I just didn’t know what to say, it was a lovely gesture! 

Finally in my last class, the kids made me Goodbye Cards and asked for my Facebook profile! Soooo sweet. I truly did learn a lot from these kids and teachers, they are very different, not only for being Thai, but because they truly respect one another and try their hardest to make you feel welcome and special!

Other than work, I had a nice time with the other volunteers and the Cultural Canvas staff. On my last night, we all joined in for a night out at Zoe’s.  It was a fun way to say goodbye.  Everyone at Cultural Canvas is just awesome! And I really love how they have family dinner every Wednesday, it’s such a nice way to have a fun night, get to know everyone a bit better and have plenty of laughs. I just wished I had more time to get to know everyone better, although I already feel like everyone is just so kind, wonderful, and funny.  So thanks everyone for making me feel welcome.

I’m always going to remember this experience. It was a nice way to get to know an NGO and another country while helping others at the same time. I would definitely recommend this to everyone. I know I only stayed for 3 weeks, but in that short period of time I got to experience and see things from a different perspective and appreciate the Thai culture. That being said, I definitely want to come back to visit, or volunteer again. So this is definitely not a goodbye, but a “See you later”. Thank you Cultural Canvas and Thank you everyone at the school and the other volunteers! You all rock!