Tessie Takes Thailand!!

Well, I’m halfway through TBB, and halfway through Th
ailand. Time is strange. I’ve done so much since the last time I wrote a blog. I’ve found it kind of difficult to write these because I can’t begin to put my experience into words, but I’ll try! Here’s what you’ve all missed:

To finish up Ghana, we went to the Cape Coast which was amazing until I got really bad food poisoning and ended up in the hospital, but a positive to that situation was that it gave me a wholeeee new perspective on the public health system!, We traveled for 30 hours straight to Thailand, I bought too many pairs of Thai pants, I got my feet eaten by those fish pedicure things, I saw the “Doe Suthep” temple (so beautiful), I got blessed by a Budhist Monk, we had a real thanksgiving dinner, I got to sell organic veggies with my host mom at a market in Chiang Mai, and so many more things that I can’t remember. So there ya go!

I’m writing this from my bed in a small village called Don Jiang, about an hour from Chiang Mai. My host mom, Mae (mom) Pen is adorable and an amazing cook. I ❤ Mae Pen..:) She calls me “Latsa” because she can’t pronounce Tessa..It’s so cute. Ok, I’ll go through my day so you all can get a better idea of what we do! I wake up at 7:30 and eat breakfast, which is usually rice, veggie stirfry, an omelette, and chicken. Oh plus a yummy papaya J We definitely are NOT starving over here. I’ve gained the “freshman fifteen” or more like “TBB 35”…Yeah, it’s bad but the food is SO GOOD!! I’m not kidding, I don’t think I ate one vegetable in Ghana besides soggy cabbage. It’s incredible how different Ghana and Thailand are. It was such a culture shock when we got to Chiang Mai and there were real restaurants and a huge mall with Coldstone Creamery Ice Cream, and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. (I’ll be honest, I was wayyy too excited about this). Ok, anyways, after breakfast we get into our work clothes and put on our really cool, not weird looking at all, farming hats, and my roommate Raquel and I go with Mae Pen to her farm. It’s a beautiful 25 minute walk, like seriously breath taking. Once we get there, we water all the plants, we weed, and get new plots of soil ready for planting lettuce, peppers, and eggplant. All of the host parents try to get us to take breaks literally every 10 minutes and it’s sometimes hard to explain that we actually WANT to help them, considering they speak 0 english J But the language barrier has given me the opportunity to learn so much Thai and think of ways to communicate through body language, and facial signs. It was a little awkward at first but now every night Raquel and I watch Thai singing competitions and game shows with Mae Pen and sometimes I have to step back and realize that I’m sitting in Thailand, the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen, and I’m watching “The Voice: Thailand” with my host mom. You can’t make this shit up!! After the farm we have a few hours before seminar or Thai class, led by Pi geab (You put Pi infront of the name of someone who is older than you), our adorable and amazing translator/guide/guardian angel ❤ After seminar I’ll go for a run or read. I’ve re read all of the Harry Potter books, and then about 10 more. I forgot how much I loved to read. Then comes the coldest bucket bath of my life, then dinner, and bed time.

The first couple of days in the village, we were rice harvesting with everyone who lives here. Let me tell you, rice harvesting is NOT EASY. First, you cut the rice plants with machetes and then let them dry for a day. Then you put them into piles and tie them together with bamboo, next you take them to one spot on the field and if you don’t have a machine to collect the actual grains from the plant, you have to hit each plant onto the ground until the rice falls out. I was astonished at how much time and effort goes into rice. It seriously makes you appreciate every single grain.

Something that has struck me in both countries, but especially Thailand, is the sense of community that I see. Today, for example, instead of farming, we went to the main center of the village (there’s a huge temple there, I’ll try to attach pictures), and everyone was there either sweeping, weeding, watering, anything you could imagine to make the center look nice. But EVERYONE was there, and that was amazing. In America we don’t see this a whole lot. In some ways it reminds me of my neighborhood, so shout out to Half Moon Hill ❤

The unit for Thailand is Sustainable Agriculture, and wow, it’s definitely making me re-think EVERYTHING I know (or thought I knew) about food. We read, “Omnivore’s Dilemma”, by Michael Pollen, and watched Food Inc., we also visited “Fair Earth Farm”, run by Jeff Rutherford, and it’s a small experimental organic farm about an hour from our village. There have been so many new questions about food and sustainability that pop into my head…Is it the responsibility of the producer to produce sustainably, or is it the responsibility of the consumer to educate themselves and go forth with that knowledge? What does it even mean to “consume sustainably”? And probably the question that runs through my mind the most is, Can food production and farming ever be truly sustainable? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and I end up with even more questions than answers, but TBB has taught me that sometimes that’s a good thing.

I’ll try for another blog at the end of Thailand, but no promises. I love it here and I’m so thankful to have this opportunity. Thanks momma and dad ❤IMG_1363.JPG


7 thoughts on “Tessie Takes Thailand!!

    1. Tessa, (This is for you, not Rema. Hi Rema!)
      I am smiling as I read your blog; your thoughts and ruminations are provocative. I liken it to being shaken like a snowglobe and all the flakes continue to float around until the pieces start to make sense. One piece at a time! You will have years of integrating new ways of seeing the world and being in the world both. Travel learning and living is profound which I know you already know.

      I love your thoughts about community. It is interesting to me that although you felt some sense of community in Ghana, you found more tangible community in Thailand. I wouldn’t have expected that. I’m curious.

      And food; your description of harvesting rice was exhausting to even imagine. And it is so easy to eat a big pile of the stuff! I am humbled.

      I have always felt that all the traveling that I have ever done (since I was 19) has given me a clearer perspective on who I am. Maybe it is because when I experience the great differences in culture I recognize who I am not. I experience a sense of heightened awareness and deep questioning. Who am I and who do I want to be?

      I think of you often. Be open. Be alive!


  1. So happy you love Thailand! It is a beautiful country. It is wonderful to read about your experiences. Uncle Jim and I wish you a Happy Hanukkah and Peace and Joy in 2017!
    Lots of Love,
    Aunt Carole & Uncle jim


  2. You are incredible!! So fun hearing about all the cool adventures you are on. Thank you for taking the time to share and keep enjoying every moment. Also, glad you feel better from the food poisoning that is NEVER fun. We love you and miss you soooo much! Cousin Cathryn, Jim, Brynn and Dylan


  3. So nice to read your blogs Tessa and try to live vicariously through you. It sounds like such a fabulous experience. Makes me want to send Jacob next year. We will have to talk more. Keep experiencing and enjoying this life changing adventure. Sending love, Deb and cooks.


  4. How exciting! Thank you for sharing these amazing experiences & thoughts. Makes me want my step-daughter to do the same when she’s older!


  5. Hi my wonderful granddaughter!
    You leave me with so many emotions. I read what you write with amazement, all the time going from surprise to happiness at what you are seeing and feeling to OMG she had food poisoning then back to amazement that you have the time and energy to read books, learn Thai, plant veggies, and also write a fantastic blog. Then I realize that my eyes just teared up with the love and pride I feel for you. You have given all of us a place to come to and live vacariously! Thank you. We love you to infinity & beyond! xxxx’s GiGi (Pop too)
    Happy Chanukah…Happy New Year 🍾🥂 CHEERS


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