I’m writing this from a bamboo bungalow in a small town in rural Northern Thailand. I just commented on my friend Kim’s latest post and it inspired me to write about my day, because she is where I was almost four months ago, packing up the entire contents of her life (and discarding most of her possessions) to travel.
I just had a moment where I realized how far I have come, not just geographically, but mentally, emotionally and dare I say spiritually, since that stressful time.
I’m not going to lie, it’s taken me a while to get used to this lifestyle, to process the enormous changes involved with selling our home and leaving my job.
Not that I have missed those things, but rather that the reality of this actually being my life, not a holiday or an extended vacation, took time to sink in.
I’ve been feeling it for a week or so now, maybe since Mum’s visit. Maybe since the amazing day I had with my new friends last week.
A sense of wonder, of gratitude, of (and I’m scared to say this because I don’t want to jinx it) contentment.
I’ve never felt like this before.
And it’s moments like these that I think are partly responsible for this wondrous feeling…
Last week, I visited my new friends house again (I did go for dinner and it was amazing, not just the food but the conversation, everything!). This time, I took along another friend I made when I first arrived in Chiang Mai, as I wanted both women to meet.
It was great, they chatted in Thai for ages, I had no idea what they were saying, but I was glad that they seemed to get on. Uncannily, they both have two children about the same age, 10 year old sons and baby daughters.
As we said our goodbyes, I was surprised that Min began wheeling out her motorcycle. With no explanation (in English, anyway) she motioned for me to get on the back.
“Oh cool, we’re all going for something to eat,” I thought, food on the brain as always.
With my other friend following behind on her motorbike, we zoomed through the narrow back streets of the neighborhood, before parking up at a small shop front.
“Fortune teller,” Min explained.
We made our way to the back of the shop, the front part occupied by hair dressing equipment. I guessed fortune tellers were multi skilled around these parts.
My friend went first. She had some personal questions she wanted answers for, and Min thought this would help steer her in the right direction.
The fortune teller and her sat on a wide wooden daybed, with a low table between them. Cards were shuffled. Hands were dealt. Futures revealed, and questions answered. All in Thai of course, I would have to wait for the translation afterwards.
Then I was up.
I changed places with my friend, Min settling in next to me. She translated the instructions and I did as I was told, shuffling (badly), placing the cards down on the table, cutting the pack with my left hand.
Cards were arranged in intricate patterns, then more shuffling, more cutting.
The lady spoke quickly and animatedly, Min trying to keep up with the translation.
At one point the girls eyes both lit up as the fortune teller began excitedly babbling and pointing to several cards with the number 10. This meant, apparently, that I was rich.
The reading continued. Some things she said were surprisingly accurate, and I definitely felt a sense of deep connection.
She told me that everywhere I travelled, I would meet people with ‘good hearts’, and not to worry about anything, that I would be taken care of. I knew, looking at the two amazing women next to me, who both opened their hearts, homes (and kitchens!) to me, that she was spot on.
Yesterday, we rode a motorbike through the narrow back roads surrounding the colourful small town of Pai, 160 kilometers northwest of Chiang Mai.
We came across a hot spring resort, and paid $3 to bathe in the hot and cool natural spring pools. It’s off-season here, so we had the entire place to ourselves.
Later that day, as the sun was low on the mountainous horizon, we crossed the river by a rickety bamboo bridge, meandering through the dirt tracks that ran alongside rice fields.
Two children followed behind, stopping when we stopped, waving when we waved.
They weren’t game enough to come close, and when I inched slowly towards them, they scampered up a grassy embankment. To reassure them, I made the common Thai ‘wai’ gesture, to which they promptly responded with tiny heads bowed over tiny pressed-together palms.
My heart swelled so much I thought it might burst.
Perhaps it’s moments like these that have led to this sneaking feeling of contentment growing inside me. Perhaps it’s just time. Maybe I’m learning the lessons I need to learn.
This too, shall pass…
I don’t for a second believe that just because I’m travelling, I’m going to be happy all the time. Life ebbs and flows, and I have no idea what’s coming next.
But right now, I don’t really care. The fear, the uncertainty and the stress of changing my life so drastically, has already been worth it.
I wrote this post on my iPhone, whilst lying in bed. Whilst part of me wants to make it perfect with pretty photos and well-edited writing, the other part of me just wants to capture this moment, as it is.