These past two weeks have been a whirlwind. School is finished, well at least classes and my final grades, and we only have a few days left to show up. It's a strange feeling knowing I won't see many of my students ever again. 1. Exploring and Discovering :: I cannot begin to be grateful enough for my ability, physically, monetarily, etc. to see the world! So many people are unable to, they have other obligations or mental blocks that prevent them from being able to explore and discover. And to explore, I don't mean boarding a plane and crossing into another nation, although that's one of my favorite forms of travel, but to possess the wide eyed mentality of a child and discover the world you live in: the simple elegance of plants, the innocence of animals and children, the smell of the wind during the season changes, the wealth of important information in museums and conservatories. To appreciate the world as it is and your part in it, that is the beauty of life. 2. Books :: I have been reading so many deliciously wonderful books this year I have been in Thailand. Fourteen to be exact. Which is wayyy more books than I have ever read in a year and I am loving it. I already wrote a little post about my favorite books from this year: here 🙂 3. Pai :: I had spent so much time thinking that my favorite place in Thailand was Chiang Mai, but lo and behold, Pai is everything I love about Chiang Mai all wrapped up in a 4-block radius and nestled in a sweet valley. Delicious Western food decorates most menus, colorful and pungent juices freshly pressed for me, soy milk cappuccinos for Ami, and real bacon and hamburgers for PT. Motorbikes, hotsprings, hippies, live music, coffee shops. Ahhh a wonderful little sanctuary for us farangs. 4. SawanAnan Wittaya School :: Teaching has been a humbling and eye opening experience. I fully appreciate teachers now and thoroughly feel guilty for my occasional bratty misbehavior when I was a student. And despite the bureaucracy, the confusion that comes with being a farang, and my initial loss at how to teach, this has been an experience that I will always cherish. I have learned how to teach, but most importantly I was a student here. A student of culture and language, of patience and gratitude, and I learned far more than I expected or hoped for. Thanks Korin and SW for giving me this opportunity! 5. Friends :: During my first 6 months here, I found that I LOVE to travel alone. And in Thailand this is so easy because the people here are so friendly and there are many other solo female travelers that you are bound to befriend. But I found that traveling with friends and in a small group is so much fun. Traveling in Chiang Mai and Pai with Amiel, PT, Lyndsey, and Andrew was refreshing. I haven't hung out with that many farangs in quite a while and I had forgotten the great feeling that comes with being in and a part of a group. We all got along smashingly, because as travelers those initial boundaries and social cues vanish and we all become more vulnerable and patient. To experience things for the first time with others and to share these parts of life is a huge part of exploring and I am happy to have PT's company for our journey southbound!