By Andrea Raugland (University of Oslo)
Every year the students of Chiang Mai University hike up Doi Suthep. I was told that this was the event of the year, but I had no idea just how big of a deal the hike was. Every student I met in the weeks before the hike trained for the event. Chants were heard in the darkness of the night around campus and the running tracks were packed.
On the day of the hike, we teamed up with our amazing Thai buddies and had breakfast at some place on campus. As we joined the others a band played traditional Thai music. One of the faculties had a parade involving carrying a girl and boy on golden chairs, while a group of dancers performed amazing pieces. After the faculty chant reached the outskirts of Chiang Mai, we began our journey. Monks blessed the crowd as we made our way out of campus and up the mountain.
The experience would not have been the same without our Thai buddies. They answered every stupid question we threw at them and fought their way up the mountain with us. No matter where in the group you walked, there was always a friendly face to keep you company. New friends were made left and right, the hike was something to be completed together and through comradeship. No other place have I ever experienced such support and unity. If you got tired, your friends would make sure you kept going and there would be support along the way. The supporters would hand out water and energy drinks, and luckily the faculty of nursing is big enough in numbers to have a station at every kilometer.
I will never forget the feeling of belonging to the university and the happiness of those who made it to the top. The faces of joy and relief will remain as my favorite memory of my time in Thailand.