2012 Fall Cambriae Bates External Programs Thailand

The New Huckleberry Finn

Cliff Jumping

Wake up. Take a shower/brush my teeth. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Go to school. Go to work. Come home to do homework. Maybe watch a movie. Fall asleep. Reset button.

When I think about my daily routine back in Philadelphia it seems as if I wasn’t actually human, but instead some sort of robot, designed to follow the same monotonous motions. Of course I had some basic highlights in my life, like a night out with the girls, a day at the theater, or a performance in a show, but no event ever seemed to explode with pure excitement. I was always missing that jolt of energy that makes you feel like it was all worth it and it was an exhilarating experience.

I never stepped outside of my everyday box and although there were many things to do in Philadelphia, I didn’t go too far out of my way to search for them. But while in Thailand my life has been drastically changing along with my perception of myself. I’ve done things here that never even crossed my mind at home and I can honestly say that I have been exposed to many wonders.

I have become an adventurer, swinging from tree limbs, crawling through branches woven like cat’s cradle, walking across bamboo bridges bending with every step, and climbing sprouts like spiders because after it rains in Thailand the sun always comes out. I have crossed out the name of Huckleberry Finn and wrote mine in its place. My adventures began with my hike to the Karen village.

My group and I decided to go on a hike one day and as soon as we stepped out of the van a torrential down pour began at the start of our journey. I tried to figure out if it would be best to wear my poncho or my raincoat and I decided to wear both because the rain droplets were so big. I had never been on an actual hike before so this was very new to me. We climbed up, climbed down, walked through huge muddy puddles, and crossed bridges that had a gigantic waterfall as the back drop. I was afraid every time we reached a bridge because they seemed so weak and unstable to cross. If I fell I would’ve gone into the river and down the waterfall, yet despite my fear I inched across every bridge while simultaneously filling my sneakers with water that poured in from the river. The difficulty of the trip was well worth it though, because after hiking for about an hour in the jungle we reached this opened space where I saw an abundance of rice fields. The formation of the fields made the mountains look as if they were stair steps to the sun and big enough for God to stride down. Each bead of sweat that dripped down my face during that hike and my squishy sneakers were worth every moment of that view.

Crossing the Bamboo Bridge

Afterwards I found myself stepping out of my character a lot. Every time I got a chance to do something that required bravery I took the opportunity. This past weekend I really conquered some major fears. I hate heights and the feeling of falling so when the opportunity to go cliff jumping into a lake came up I was a bit hesitant. When I arrived at the cliff all of my friends kept telling me to just do it and jump. There were different sized cliffs and I was going to jump from the smaller one, but I was still afraid. I kept trying to run and then leap, but I was scared of slipping right when I got to the end and hitting the rocks on the way down, so instead I just ended up leaping. My heart was trying to break through my chest as my feet searched for the earth and then I splashed into the clear blue lake beneath me and realized that it was so deep that if I lost energy I would drown. The only place to climb back up though was all the way across the lake and I wasn’t a very good swimmer. I began to go into a doggy paddle mode, slowly pacing myself across the lake and when I got tired I would swim underneath the water for a while. I didn’t swim free style because I thought that would make me even more tired, but looking back I may have gotten across faster. There was a point while swimming across that I thought I wasn’t going to make it. As I swam slowly the water began to enter my mouth and my muscles almost gave out. I kept thinking of how out of shape I was. But then as I got closer one of my friends asked me if I was okay. I got a bit upset because I had already swam across the whole lake and he waited until I was almost at the finish line to offer a hand. This pushed me to just go all the way and get it done. Afterwards we laughed about how much I lacked swimming skills. I was so satisfied with myself because somehow I pushed through it and researched to end. I felt like I had stepped out of my skin.

While I’ve been in Thailand I have not felt like the same me. I haven’t been thinking the same and I’ve been trying and experiencing things that are so out of my character and I can honestly say that I have opened. There was a moment where I climbed up to one of the higher diving points and just sat there and stared out at the sky and the mountains. I had never seen beauty equivalent to red mountain peeks beneath the yellow of the sun. The beauty of the space seeped into my thoughts. While I sat there I thought about my position in the world and where I was at the time and I felt completely content, so content that I had thoughts of never going back to my old life.

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