2 months seems to have gone by really quickly (1 and 3/4 at the mo), it has been a unique period in my life in that, I don’t think I have ever had 2 months to just sit around mostly doing whatever I want. Normally when we have free time in life we try and fill it with activities. 4 weeks a year, 1 or 2 days each week, this is our alloted time in the west, and we try and use it to do the things we can’t for the other 80% of our lives. So to have time to just do anything or nothing, well, it’s not easy! Especially in Chiang Mai.
So what have I done with my time? Well I rode a bicycle up and down a mountain, I also drove a car up a mountain, and then down an “offroad” path, ate a cricket, got a shave, went to the movies a few times and rode a scooter through one of the windy-ist roads on earth to a remote hippy village called Pai, at the hippy village I swam in a natural mineral pool, fell through a bridge and swam in a waterfall, which I got to by riding a scooter up another hill. I also spent a day with elephants just outside of Chiang Mai, feeding and washing and such, that was cool.
Around Chiang Mai
My birthday this year coincided with the need to extend our Thai visas, and since we only needed a couple weeks we decided to head up to the border town of Mae Sai, basically you cross over to the Burmese border and back, drop about $10 and they give you the 14 days, we decided to go this route because the month extension is expensive, and I am running out of pages in my passport. We rented a car and spent 3 days driving around the mountains and looking for cool stuff around the north of Thailand.
We stayed in Chiang Rai for a night (not really my sort of place, like a small boring Chiang Mai) and then went to Chiang Dao, a beautiful out of the way town with bungalows in a natural setting, the food was good and the people friendly, Sarah even got me a cake from the 7/11 and our hostess sang happy birthday to me (cleverly supplementing my name with an extra “happy birthday”).
It was a great way to see the north, and I would recommend to anyone who enjoys driving to skip the usual drollness of minibuses and hop in a car. Although the way Thais drive can seem crazy at first (130km an hour is fine on a 2 lane, and 3 cars fit easily side by side, no matter which way they are going), once you get into the swing of it, it seems a more natural way to drive… and fun!
Well all that would take up a grand total of about a week, so what about the rest of the time?
The rest of the time has been difficult, easy, exciting, boring, conflicting, relaxing and all manner of other “ings which I can’t really think of right now. I took up the guitar and learned how to play a bit (a bit being the operative word), and I spent a lot of time learning a couple of gaming engines, the intent being to eventually make small quirky games and apps to sell online.
As much as I have enjoyed this time to do the things I have always wanted, it is still very conflicting with what my mind and body have known before. I often spend days sitting in front of my computer, making blocks move across the screen, applying physics to a circle or making stick men run and jump, but when I get up and poke my head out the door for smoko, Chiang Mai, Thailand jumps up a slaps me in the face, reminding me that there is a world outside, yucky.
There is a weird kind of anxiety which comes with not having to do anything, or with not having anything to do. Sometimes I stop and tell myself to remember there is more to the world than my glowing screen, but then I also remind myself that I love my glowing screen and there is plenty of time to do other stuff.
So Chiang Mai is done and here we are in Bangkok again, preparing ourselves for the next stage, Marty and I are off to China, and I have no doubt that when in China the days of sitting in an air conditioned room making boxes move will seem a million miles away.
China is going to be tough I am sure, squat toilets and even less english spoken than Thailand, backpacks on, huge distances to cover and confusion abound, it is going to be an experience. I have long wanted to go to China, I like the people, I often hear it said that the Chinese are rude, personally I think it is just the language and cultural differences which may sometimes seem that way, I have never had anything but good experiences with them.
I know the cultural differences might be a bit of a shock, the spitting and all that, I know some places are polluted as hell, I know dog and fetus will sometimes be menu options, I know that it isn’t going to be easy, but it will be one hell of an experience, and after a distinct lack of travel experiences over the last couple months, it is probably exactly what I need to get me going again. So come on China, hit me with your best shot!