“Mai pen rai, take it easy!” in Thailand

 

_DSC1329contest“Mai pen rai, take it easy!”

It is 7 o’clock in the morning, the alarm clock plays an Italian song and I point my eyes towards a corner of the window on my left: the sun reflects the shape of the grid on the wall. I remain in bed another couple of minutes to observe this soft light.

Short after I descend the stairs heading to my bicycle and I ride to the nearby market. The sun this time dazzles me, I always forget the glasses, and when I enter the dark hall I am blinded for few seconds. Luckily, I know by heart where my breakfast place stands and I am able to reach it anyways. While I wait for my bowl of fresh fruit I observe the market waking up: some women cut the meat, a man fills the containers with rice and Tip slices bananas, mangos and papayas with admirable skill.

When I am back in my room, before going to my daily yoga ball practice, I have time to check my emails so that when I return I can directly work on my writing and editing schedule.

While I cycle to the gym I blend in with the locals going to work and school. Despite the traffic no one seems to be in a hurry, nobody is rude or frenetic, people are even able to smile at this early hour. Actually, I notice that everybody smiles all the time, even in the most stressful situation and in markets or festivals colours, smells and serenity prevail over chaos. This lack of stress and general sense of calmness has been Chiang Mai’s most unexpected revelation.

I first realized this during one of my lunch breaks, which are also my favourite moments of the day. I sat with my book open on the table but I was not really reading, I was rather immersed in my thoughts, which were bringing me back to my lunches in Norway when I have a sandwich or sometimes only a bite of it while running from the supermarket to the office. Now, I have the privilege to sit down, greet the people around me and even read. Unconsciously, I have already absorbed the laid-back approach that characterizes so much Thai people and the way they lead their lives.

This is why short after lunch, when the stomach is full and the temperature is hot, I am able to simply acknowledge that I have less energy and so I keep on working at a lower pace. However, sometimes it just does not feel right to sit in front of a computer: I can’t write, I can’t focus, I need to move. Instead of struggling with this situation I put a scarf in my bag, I take my note book and my camera and I go out.

On this occasion I would go to a park but in Chiang Mai it is easier to find a temple than a green area. When I had just arrived I decided not to visit all the temples in the first days but instead to explore them one by one during my stay here. So this is where I sneak some afternoons and as soon as I pass the threshold that separates the street from the sanctuary that general sense of calmness that characterizes the city is amplified.

I look at the day light, I set the right options of my camera, I wander and shoot: the details of the statues, the dragons at the beginning of the stairs, the roofs made of multiple layers, every piece tells a story.

Usually, around the stupa there seems to be another dimension where time does not exist, here I stop a little longer wandering if this is the source of the peacefulness that embraces this place.

About the author: Jessica Michele Garcia is a freelance writer graduated in Translation and Communication Sciences and in Freelance Journalism. I also work as tour agent and tour guide in Norway every summer. My inspiration are nature, travels and spontaneous human beings.

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