Chiang Mai, Thailand

One day in a group, one day alone

From Maesod I take a bus to Tak and from there one of the buses that go back and forth between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Having arrived I share a tuktuk with a nice Israeli lad and a smiling French lady. I recommend Julie’s Guesthouse to them and go to Wat Sum Pow to meet Jean. I stroll around while he finishes his last massage.

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Buddha caught in barb wire on the border bridge at Myawaddy/Mae Sot

We drive to his place. Wonderful cottage in the Northwest outskirts of Chiang Mai. I stay two nights and then move to Julie’s downtown. We also find the time for an Ohashiatsu treatment at the temple with Thai masseur watching us. I feel a lot better afterwards. There is a definite change in attitude and general sense of being in the world. After my personal Burmese days when I found it hard to do anything because of heat and unstable digestion it is great to be able to take two stairs at a time again now that I am Thailand.

To get around I rent a scooter for two days. And I decide to join a group of people driving 20 km south of the city to go swimming and jumping off rocks into the river at Opkhan National Park. We are thirteen – quite a flock of farang to be seen in a spot like this! It is so kool to ride a (motor)bike in a convoy setting like that. We are looking for a waterfall but what we eventually find is a river. Except us there are only locals. Some do a salto so we do salti, too.

In the evening Kristen and I check out a local market to have a fresh coconut and try some appetising pows (dumplings filled with black bean and custard cream) and then have a feast at an Indian restaurant ‘New Delhi’ where every dish is delicious and the waiter is the most sincere I’ve ever seen. We share our thoughts on life, the universe and everything. We have a great talk about the Middle Way.

Next day some of my friends from the day before drive to a canyon. I stay in the city and chill out. I know I will go to Pai tomorrow morning and then scooter my way around the Myanmar border. It’s a well-known loop around here. It goes Pai -Mae Hong Son – Mae Sariang – Chiang Mai. Takes about 4 or 5 days. I will leave my big backpack at Julie’s Guesthouse.

Before going to sleep I book the ticket to Berlin where a friend awaits me. Then I read some pages in Orwell’s personal Burmese Days. In the morning suryanamaskar – yoga on the roof with a view over Chiang Mai. I feel at home. No need to go anywhere. In the days to come there will be enough motorcycle riding. I take a day off and chill out. Here in Chiang Mai there is always something to do: cooking classes, massage courses, trekking, swimming, elephants to see and touch and ride, rafting, biking, zip-lining, and of course what you can do anywhere and what seems to be so easy to get accustomed to in Thailand… booze your brains with Chang beer, padthai your body and shop til you drop.

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