After the road trip, we had a few days back at The Smith Residence, Chiang Mai, which had served as a comfy home for the previous two months. TWO MONTHS?! Had it really been that long?
It seemed at once both a grand stretch of time and a mere blink.
I’d experienced so much, not epic adventures perhaps, but little ones, the type that only come with spending time.
I’d ridden a rickety bike back and forwards to my friend’s house, and meandered through the neighbourhood with her, understanding none of the local chit-chat. I’d dipped balls of sticky rice into spicy curries in the homes of people I didn’t know, because it was considered weird not to.
I’d participated in Songkran with glee, got fined by the cops for not wearing a helmet on the back of my friend’s motorcycle (nobody does), and had my fortune told in the back of a hair salon.
I’d read a few books, but to be honest probably spent more time lingering in The Lost Book Shop than I did actually reading (I’m obsessed with bookstores). I’d been stretched and manipulated within an inch of my life at various Thai massage establishments, and added Pad Krapow Moo (stirfried pork with basil leaves) to my favourite Thai dishes.
Oh, and I bathed an elephant (in case you hadn’t heard!).
And in all of this, there was a lot of time doing not much at all – I managed to become addicted to the television series “Homeland”, and watch a LOT of Aussie Rules Football on satellite TV. Ironically, Tyrhone is now a convert to the game since leaving Australia. He now questions me on my knowledge of the rules and it’s REALLY annoying.
Writing this now, I can see why I was at peace with leaving Chiang Mai. By that I mean, I could have stayed, but was also happy to go. It was Tyrhone that was struggling with the concept of leaving, which was less to do with Chiang Mai itself and everything to do with fast wi-fi and icy cold air-conditioning.
The day before we left, my friend Min took me to the most amazing place, Vieng Joom Om Teahouse:
It was the perfect end to my stay, only I regretted that I had not discovered it until after Mum’s visit to Thailand. I don’t know how the tourists have missed it since I was the only foreigner there, but I highly recommend it if you are in Chiang Mai. They serve delicious, beautifully presented food and wonderful teas, blended with ice or in traditional china pots, in the most magnificent setting on the Ping River.
Mystery Solved – The Case of The Missing Fit-Flops
(You know you’ve been somewhere too long if you can create a mystery, then solve it…)
As we loaded our stuff out of the taxi at the train station, I grasped a bag of food Min had just delivered (astounding me once again with her obscene generosity). Whilst watching my step as I alighted the pick-up, the driver’s feet caught my eye.
‘Oh, that’s funny, he’s wearing fit flops’, I thought, momentarily believing us to the same taste in shoes.
‘He’s wearing MY Fitflops!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ My thoughts raged, contained only by the shock of the ridiculous situation.
Suddenly, in a matter of seconds, the mystery of my missing Fitflops was solved:
After Songkran, I’d taken them off at the entrance of the hotel, so as not to drench the floor. I must have carried them to the small shop inside the lobby where I bought drinks, and put them down to get my money out.
My hands full with bags, I’d not noticed them missing till the next day. Believing I must have left them at the entrance, I’d checked with the hotel staff, but never the kindly shop owner, who we had actually gotten to know quite well.
The shop owner was mates with the taxi driver who used to hang out there sometimes waiting for customers.
I can imagine it now, “Hey mate, someone left this pair of shoes obviously suited to an aging male, you want them, or should I chuck ’em out?” (In Thai of course)
Unbeknownst to them, I had since gone into shock, then grief, then blame (Tyrhone’s fault!) over losing my expensive, super comfy (did I mention expensive?) Fitflops! Thankfully, Mum had bought me a new pair when she came to visit.
I stifled my laughter as the driver hobbled off in my shoes, his heels hanging off the back in an absurd final signal that I had definitely been in Chiang Mai too long. Long enough for a taxi driver to steal my shoes.
I nudged Tyrhone, scream-whispering in his ear as he paid the fare, “They’re MY frickin’ Fitflops, they’re MINE!’, to which he was proportionately confused, then amused.
‘They don’t even fit him properly,’ he responded, characteristically calm.
So Where To Now?
We took the overnight train to Bangkok, and returned to our old haunt, Sathorn Saint View Apartments. It’s an aging building, but excellent value for $20 per night with A/C, TV, a fridge, pool, gym and daily cleaning. We booked in for the week, awaiting our flights to our next destinations. Yes, that’s plural.
I decided a while ago that I wanted to go to Bali to meet up with some girlfriends, and Tyrhone and Marty then decided to go to China. Whilst experiencing an extreme case of FOMO* when they got their visas, I knew that the time apart would be good for us. I mean, China will always be there, won’t it?
I couldn’t be in Bali and China at the same time, so I made my decision.
But as the time drew closer, and our days together were numbered, we both began to get a bit nervous about our parting of ways. Still, we knew it would be good for us to experience travelling apart, and I was pretty excited to see my friends, as well as spend some time alone to write, think, read…whatever.
But as the taxi pulled away with my beloved on the back seat yesterday afternoon, I felt like we’d made a terrible mistake.
I felt like it should be me going to China too, but there I was at the hotel, not knowing what to do with myself.
I hoped the morning would bring a change in my mood, which luckily it did. I awoke with positivity at the prospect of a solitary day in one of my favourite cities.
After meeting an expat friend for coffee, I took myself down to the river and took a ferry to Wat Pho, home to the enormous ‘Reclining Buddha’. As I had offered to take the large DSLR camera with me, I began to try to learn how the hell to use it.
I can’t say I mastered it, but it was fun trying.
Afterwards, I dined solo at the amazing local restaurant next door, then treated myself to a one-hour Thai massage.
Hmm, I’ve definitely had worse days! I still miss Tyrhone, but I am getting really excited about Bali and beyond. I have a few loose plans, but also heaps of time to explore on my own, and perhaps venture to some other Indonesian Islands.
So as one adventure ends and another begins, I thank you for reading and look forward to bringing you along with me. I guess it won’t be a lonesome journey after all!
*FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out, a chronic affliction faced by neurotic 30 something female’s named Sarah