Doi Inthanon National Park (& FuckUps)

Magical Places & Spaces

January 12th, 2017

7AM. Priyash and I met downstairs. The tour company picked us up from our hostel at 7:20AM. Picked up other tourists from other hostels/ hotels and just like that, we started a new adventure. As a reminder, we were headed to Doi Inthanon National Park. The drive, 1.5 hours.

During the drive, I decided to write down some questions related to failure. I could prototype these questions by asking them to Priyash. See how he would respond. These questions were big questions, following the theme of “Big Talk” (which I wrote about in one of my blogs from a few weeks ago).

Asking these questions made the time pass fast. Loaded questions lead to loaded discussion. Of course, I was very interested in his perspective on this topic. Through discussion, we came up with an idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if the questions were intentionally designed in such a way that reconfigured peoples’ understanding of failure? In the beginning, people would start with one definition of failure. In the end, they would produce or realize a new definition and understanding of failure. Leading people on this path would present one of the design challenges.

We arrived. It was 9:40. Meet back at the van by 10:30. We had nearly an hour to explore the royal pagodas, they were called the King and Queen pagodas. We were high on a mountain and in recent days it had been raining. So, fog and mist surrounded the pagodas, blocking a good part of the view that made this place such an attraction. Oh well, no biggie.

Priyash and I first explored the queen pagoda. I approached the pagoda/ temple and observed people entering the structure to pray and/or pay respect for the recently deceased king. I noticed that others had flowers and were laying these down in front of the Buddha shrine. Out of thin air, a young lady drew my attention. Here you go!

She handed me flowers. And then she ran off in another direction. Wow, thanks! I’m unsure if she heard me. Cool! That was totally unexpected and extremely timely. I wonder where people got these flowers from. I wonder if she paid for these. I wonder why she gave them to me and ran off. Today may be my lucky day.

I took off my shoes and did what others did. Got on the ground, knees bent backwards, closed my eyes, clasped my hands together with flowers in between. I breathed peacefully, not knowing what else I “should” do. I’ve never really learned how to pray and I wouldn’t know exactly what to pray for. I was satisfied with my attempt. I dropped one of the flowers where others did. That was neat.

Surrounding the pagodas are beautiful gardens. These gardens add a lot of magnificence to this place. I took time to walk around and enjoy the beauty. I spotted a group of 4 monks. They were taking selfies! What fun. Monks in the 21st century. They are people too. I took some photos and a video of them walking. I caught their attention.

They asked where I was from. I said the United States. I don’t think they understood. We mutually agreed I was English. Close enough. One of the monks wanted to take a picture with me with his phone. Cool! This was my opportunity to take a picture with him on my phone. This picture of us two brings me great joy. The setting is stunning.

Things went really well at the queen pagoda. Flowers. Temple. Monks. Garden. Picture. And, the fog was clearing up some. Only 5 minutes until 10:30, and I have yet to see the king pagoda! No biggie. Went to the other side, repeated my ritual in the king pagoda and tributed the last flower. Some photos, a short walk. The pagodas, very similar. But of course I have a preference for the queen.

Back into the van. Now we were off to the highest point in Thailand. Nearby, a path to walk in the jungle. 15 minute walk, we kept it short here. But it was beautiful. Such calm, such quite, such green. Like walking in a cloud forest. Back into the van.

Out of the van. Lunch. This was included in the tour. Directions given: “eat a lot of food, you will need the calories for our afternoon hike.” We ate mushroom soup, rice, vegetables, chicken, and omelette. Really delicious. Back in the van.

Out of the van. Time for a hike! Again, in the jungle. Now we were at a lower elevation point so we could see much more. A different climate. Still wet though. In 15–20 minutes, we met a waterfall. Powerful and entertaining. On one of the wet rocks, a tourist slipped backwards into a hole. For a few moments, it was scary. Where was he slipping to, where would he land? But he was fine. No damage done. Just an unexpected slide.

This somewhat set the tone for the remainder of the hike. The hike was beautiful, no doubt. It was just a little tricky. In so many places, I felt vulnerable. Not in full control of my balance. The mud. It was slippery. The logs and rocks, wet. My shoes, they don’t have much traction. As a big guy, I may also be a little clumsy. My attention was focused on feet control. Body management. Balance training.

The area, very beautiful. So much green. So much life. So much beauty. We walked for some time. Maybe even 2 hours. This was the main activity for the afternoon. And it was certainly an adventure. I did enjoy it, although I struggled to accept the present moment and its slippery grounds.

At the end of the hike, we arrived at a very small town. A place at least with roads and a few buildings. There, we sat down for a couple cups of coffee. The coffee was strong. Really nice after the hike. This was fun. Adventurous. I was glad to return in one piece.

Back into the van. A 20 minute drive. Out of the van. Our last stop. Another waterfall. This one much bigger than the one in the forest. The waterfall was cool. Big. Can’t compare though to the falls I saw in Argentina, Iguazu falls. It’s crazy to compare any waterfall to those falls. Unfair. Hanging out was fun. Long day. After this, the official tour was over. Back into the van.

Priyash asked me the same questions I asked him regarding failure. Responding was tricky. These are tough questions. A lot of analysis. Not too much fun. This was not very game-like. Just some prompts for introspection. Running through these was interesting. I’m glad to have made something out of these rides. Learned some things while leaving and returning to the city. Out of the van.

Goodbye van. That was a great tour. So glad to have done it. Priyash and I got our bags and started walking to another hostel that Priysh discovered online. $6 more, but much better accommodation. In 15 minutes we arrived. This place was nice. And they have availability, great!

6:30. In 30 minutes the Fuckup nights event at Punspace will start. Priyash was interested too. I love hanging out with other people who are also interested in entrepreneurship! This was so hard to find growing up and in college. Awesome, this was perfect timing.

In a little over 24 hours, Priyash and I were back at Punspace. The lights dimmed. A good number of people mingling. The turnout for the event was good. Awesome, I’m really excited for this. It is my first ever Fuckup nights (as a reminder, I’m interested in organizing these events once I’m back in Boulder)!

Apparently, for Chiang Mai, this was their first Fuckup nights too. So all of us lost our Fuckup virginity together. What an experience. Glad to have lost it here in Chiang Mai. The format of the event, very simple. 4 speakers, each of them with different stories and takeaways.

Unsurprisingly, failure was the underlying theme. Lots of lessons learned. I loved this atmosphere. I loved the conversations that were taking place. This is huge! People coming together to talk about their failures, their fuckups. After the speakers shared, people in the audience very much continued with this theme.

This is exactly the kind of atmosphere, the kind of platform I would like to create. I look forward to organizing this event in Boulder. I’ll get to this soon enough (I know it’s months after I initially expressed interest in doing this!).

I spoke to a few of the Punspace members to learn about their lifestyles as “digital nomads.” It’s pretty cool. They go wherever, set up shop wherever, and are able to generate income from miscellaneous work online. Whether that is through writing, freelance work, or running a startup that already has paying clients. Teaching and other gigs are also options. These people are interesting. Lots of great energy too.

Wow, what a day. Full of a lot of beautiful stuff. Now, it’s 11:00 at night. JLO, the co-founder of Serendipia, arrived in Chiang Mai tonight. I’m about to meet up with him and Priyash for a late-evening meal. We are all pretty hungry. Time to meet this basic human need. Adios!

Greatful Life

  • I am grateful for Doi Inthanon National Park because of the sound of silence it produces, which is felt throughout your body
  • I am grateful for FuckUp nights Chiang Mai because this was my first FuckUp nights event and I have wanted to attend one of these for quite some time! On my “entrepreneur bucket list.”
  • I am grateful for the hike because it brought me to very fascinating places inside a jungle
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