It was the last place I would have expected to leave my heart in. I’m a beach kind of girl, I’m a city kind of girl, not a… Thailand kind of girl. At the beginning, yes, I did have some apprehensions. I had never been out of the country let alone on the other side of the world somewhere in the middle of Asia! I didn’t know much about Thailand, but one thing I did know was that I was ready for this exciting new adventure. Admittedly I had a lot of incorrect assumptions about Thailand. I thought 1) the entire country was mostly jungle 2) we would have to live in a glorified hut-like house 3) the only option would be Asian food 4) everything would be super cheap and 5) there would be a very hot climate all year round. Yes, these were some of my initial thoughts and no, I was never good at geography, so before this, I probably didn’t even know where Thailand was. But once I got there, I quickly found that all of my preconceived notions about this strange new place that I would be calling my home for the next two years were far from the truth.
The first thing that hit me like a brick wall was the city. Tall buildings, lots of people, and traffic… we live in a city! It was nothing like I expected and yet I found myself secretly celebrating inside. My heart started to open up for my new city. My initial thoughts were quickly being debunked. I learned that Chiang Mai was indeed a city with hundreds of thousands of people with lots of houses, cars, malls, and tourists. The shopping was great, the variety of food options were endless, and the culture was so rich and lively. The city of Chiang Mai now had a piece of my heart.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing adjusting to this new city as a newly married, young wife. I still felt displaced, confused, and lost at times. English wasn’t spoken as widely as I had hoped and little, everyday conveniences were something I missed. But figuring out life together with my husband in a new city and new country holds some of my favorite memories and is something I will forever cherish.
But apart from the sights I was surrounded by, there was still something else that captured more of my heart. It was who we were surrounded by. It was the faces we saw at the markets on a daily basis. It was the faces of the people who invited us into their homes when we traveled into villages. It was the faces of the children we played with at the orphanage. This is what really opened up my heart to this foreign land.
Beyond the city lights, the colorful culture, and wild adventures, it was the people we met from all walks of life and the relationships we made that left a deep impact. Chiang Mai, you have my heart!
Where’s your favorite place that you’ve ever traveled to or lived? What city has your heart? This post is a part of the #ileftmyheartin campaign by Get Your Guide. Check out their website for your guide to all things travel and to see the favorite cities of others!