This is the part of the trip where I start traveling with my friend’s mom whom I had never met before. Let me explain:
I met Daniel, a children's book editor, because I sent him my Harold and the Cupcakes book dummy. He sent me the nicest rejection letter, his words still sticking with me til this day. Kind of explains why I'm so picky & haven't illustrated any children's books yet. Anyway, we met up one day in NYC and the rest is history. When I mentioned I was visiting Chiang Mai, he flipped out and told me about his mother, Sima, an amazing 56-year-old woman who was living near Chiang Mai as a Peace Corp volunteer. So Sima and I started corresponding and coordinating our paths to cross. I told her about my plans to Laos and she said she would join. I didn’t realize how strange this was—your friend’s mom joining you for a week on your backpacking trip--until I started to tell people. But oh it was friendship at first sight! She's the warmest, sweetest woman you'll ever meet.
Sima took me to her Peace Corp site in Phrao and I followed her through a “typical day.” This involved bicycling, which I was absolutely thrilled about. Her counterpart & his daughter joined us for the adventure.
We biked through rice paddies
Stopped to forage for fruitVisited a sugar cane sugar cube manufacturer & had some passion fruit (delish!!)We also visited a pastor's home to buy some handmade bamboo jewelry and I spied this gentleman outside their home.
Traveling with her was a great experience and in a way gave me a preview as to what traveling would be like when you’re older. I personally never want to stop traveling, so seeing her strap on a harness and go zip lining (will explain in the next post) with a big grin and such positivity was really wonderful.
She’s also excited to return to the US and start her own dream business, a café, which I really admire and appreciate. So often people discourage themselves from pursuing a dream because it’s “too late” or they’re “too old” and she’s living proof of someone who continues to reject the stereotypes and expectations of age. Could be the fact that she’s lived in 14 different countries and has worked tirelessly for herself and her kids, but it’s just a testament to her strength and perseverance. I’m very much in awe and inspired by her, and grateful was able to travel with her.
Next stop, Laos, my new favorite country.