The Trials of Doi Hang

I never imagined that an innocent, pleasant afternoon like this one would make me see the world in such a different way. I gazed up at the gorgeous turquoise sky; the scent of fresh cut grass around me brought memories of summer days I’d forgotten. Walking bicycles out of a long rocky driveway with my tenacious and determined older sister, we set off into the wilderness, and began, an unanticipated adventure into a rice farming village that had recently become our home. At first, we effortlessly peddled our faithful bicycles along a quiet stretch of road. While we were not at home, we took the chance to admire fruit trees and overgrowth of pure jungle. Our destination? A Buddhist temple on a mountain. Not necessarily being my idea to go, I was confused as to why my sister would want to go to a Buddhist temple. A thought shot through my brain, “Gunya is a Christian, because she loves Jesus with all her heart. She may have followed the Buddhist practices two years ago, but certainly not now.” I thought. “So, why in the world does she want to go hike a mountain just to see that?” In short- I was very confused. You see, Gunya is Thai. Raised in a tribal village where she worked for her meals, she experienced things people never imagined possible. So when she saw that slope shooting up into the distance, standing right up in front of us, she had absolutely no intention of slowing down.

The idea, in my head, of a calm afternoon bike ride, quickly charged downhill. Or should I say, uphill. Neither Gunya nor I could force our tired limbs to pedal further, so we continued on by walking our bikes up the hill; with heaving breaths we trudged up. The peak was just ahead, with one last overly dramatic war cry we reached the top, air forced itself into my lungs, I helplessly looked at my sister, she had a fiery determination in her eyes, and all my hopes of turning around at this point, shattered into millions of pieces. Then like lightning, we skidded down the other side of the hill. As I unwillingly took on more of these monstrous slopes, I found myself completely in awe at my sisters never ending perseverance, no matter what we faced she fought as hard as she could to keep going, I took a look at myself and realized, if I was here on my own, I would have given up back at the first hill. “I should really do things like this more often.”  I said to myself.

Our next trial—the ‘death hill’

We screeched to a stop, my hair was blown in all directions from the previous monsoons of wind and tsunami sized hills– no exaggeration at all. We were waved over by some local Thais, out of pure exhaustion; we dropped our bicycles flat on the muddy ground and drug our feet to the confused, but smiling faces. The air now felt humid and harsh, the sky was turning to a cloudy grey. Rain? Would it even matter, my skin already feels like I ran through a football field full of sprinklers. YUCK.

We approached the kind-hearted locals for directions, which they cheerfully provided, sending us on our way refreshed by their kindness I stepped around facing one of the biggest  mountains, and biggest challenge yet. My eyes practically jumped out of their sockets when they saw the narrow, dark road shooting straight up to who knows where. Again, I reluctantly looked to my sister. That fiery eye determination thing was getting annoying. My legs started to feel like two wet noodles attempting to knock out a water bottle…or a rock, a rock. That sounds more courageous. With a mouse’s war cry, I hesitantly followed Gunya up the mountain. Luckily, the kind new friends had offered us to leave our weary bikes by a banana tree. Unluckily however, that meant we had to walk the dangerously steep slopes. We admired the terrifying drop off on one side of the road, plummeting down and leading to certain death. “Great.”  I thought sarcastically.

After an hour, we reached our destination. Red faced and exhausted, I took a breath of the fresh, cool mountain air. Every part of me hurt. I heard Gunya squeal with delight, looking at my surroundings; my heart beat faster as I noticed, we didn’t come all this way for a temple. I gasped in awe of the simply breathtaking creation in front of my eyes, every ounce of effort, and every forceful step, led to this. And in that moment, I regretted nothing. A gorgeous sunset stretched across the horizon; the sky was a soft orange with wisps of fiery red. The lushes green hills and tiny lime colored rice fields. An indescribable feeling of joy and God’s love for us washed over me, and all I could think was, beautiful. If my sister had never been so completely determined, and pushed both me and her past our limits, we never would have experienced this amazing creation of God. Never before have I seen God so clearly, and understood just why, he called the earth, ‘good.’ A quiet but powerful surge of peace and His never ending love exploded in my heart. And all I wanted to do was share it.

I admire my sister’s patience, her perseverance, and amazing faith. I learned that you have to work hard and stay strong to reach your goals, even if you don’t quite know what they are. God has beautiful plans for each and every one of us; sometimes it just takes a difficult challenge to get there.

  • written by Spunky, age 14


  1. Beautifully written
    This is a wonderful story that accompanied by scripture verses makes for a beautiful devotion. Glory to God!

  2. At the beginning I was thinking “I hope she posts pictures”. By the end I realized you didn’t need to. You described the scene, and the trip getting there, beautifully.

  3. I love this story and the beautiful way you’ve described it, but mostly how it opened your heart. A heart that is already full. You know how much I want you home so I can wrap my arms around you and hold you tight, but what your learning is so worth it. Never stop writing, it’s God’s gift to you. I love you Baby.

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