It’s been exactly one week since I arrived at Monfai Culture Center in Chiang Mai. As much as I tried to mentally prepare myself for this part of the trip, there’s no way you can prepare for everything. Has it been everything I thought it would be? Yes. Has it been things I didn’t expect it to be? Yes. Is that a good thing? Yes.
Most of my time is spent working on my project or doing things that allow me to work on my project. I’m very fortunate to have support in place which was one of the pleasant surprises which I didn’t expect. My sidekick Dev has taken me all over Chiang Mai, got me a motorbike (and gotten me lost a few times), took me up into the mountains to visit a Hmong village, critiqued my work and offered very constructive feedback on how to take my work from being “just a pretty picture” to a place where it could be considered art. It’s been a blast and I really couldn’t have asked for more.
The staff at Monfai are wonderful to work with. Everyone has been extremely welcoming. Arjan Rampad Kothkaew and Khun Shukit Panmongkol are my hosts and I meet with them informally on a daily basis to discuss my work, the progress, and the needs I have to move forward. They have both been instrumental in the progress of the project and since it centers specifically around Lanna culture have provided me resources to work with. I have everything here from costumes to accessories to actual dancers and performers. Yesterday was the first day of production for my project. I think I’ll blog more about that at a later date.
Outside of working on my project I’m having a blast. Getting the motorbike was the best thing I ever did. I’m free to go and come as I need. As I walked out the door on the day I rented it the man handed me the keys and told me, “You got your wheel, now you are freedom”. “Yes my friend,” I replied. “Now, I am freedom.”