Arrivederci

My week stint in Chiang Mai has been nothing short of  adventurous, colorful, informative and fun.  I’ve stayed in numerous places, met many people, made friends with an American (there aren’t many of us here) and an Austrian.  I’ve studied Thai every day with my tutor Rassada who has – in addition to helping me learn the Thai basics – given me a bird’s-eye view into her life, Thai culture and the city of Chiang Mai itself.

I have had Thai massage, spontaneous dinners with Israeli new-agers, and have exchanged travel stories with people the world-over.  I’ve heard some horror stories in addition to wonderful tales from the people I’ve met. One of the many joys of traveling alone is you are wide open to everyone around you and the exchanges come often and easily.  I’ve visited three hill tribe villages, danced with tribal Akha women, discussed herbs with a Hmong man who showed me dried tiger penis (used as a medicinal sexual enhancer), been asked on a date by a half-Greek half-British chap, toured many temples (wats), chatted with monks, discovered Mexican food (hot damn!), and wandered through the winding paths of many markets.  I’ve shot many photos, strolled the length of the city moat, explored the city’s graffiti, and have even found some down time to read and study.

Hmong Hill Tribe Woman

I’ve grown quite comfortable here. Chiang Mai is mellow enough to be a walking city with more things to do than there are hours in the day.  It’s also big enough that you have access to many amenities including herbal steam baths, clubs, bars, coffee shops and used book stores.  Wifi is pulsing throughout the city and if you need a break from Thai cuisine you can choose between Mexican, Italian, Japanese, and Korean.  Not bad.

You can study just about anything here.  Chiang Mai is undoubtedly a city of universities and learning centers.  Should you want to learn how to cook Thai food, learn Thai massage, Reiki, Yoga, Meditation, Thai language or herbalism – whatever you want, they got it.  There are small pockets of hippies and  yogis who have made their home here.  They’re mostly middle-agers who have clearly grown tired of the Western way of life, have jumped ship and don’t plan on returning any time soon.  I don’t hang with them much but their very existence here means I have access to organic salads with avocado, kombucha tea and vegan ice cream.  For that, I thank them.

Blue Diamond Restaurant – Your Home for All Things Natural

I’ve conversed in Thai with taxi drivers, guesthouse managers, and the women who do my laundry.  Each and every time, upon hearing me try to speak their language, their eyes light up and they welcome me in.  My Thai is far from good but at least I’m trying and I think the Thais take pride in this.  They laugh at my mispronunciation and correct me when I’m wrong.  The Thais continue to amaze me with their kind-hearted openness.  Such remarkably friendly people.  I seek out authentic Thai markets when I can and often I am the only Westerner there, sitting at a table by myself or with other Thais, eating some amazing street food that never costs me more than $1.33.

But our time has come to an end.  For now at least.  Tomorrow I head to Mae Sai which is about five hours north of Chiang Mai on the border of Burma.  I’ll arrive around 5 p.m. and will finally meet my DEPDC volunteer coordinator who I’ve been talking with periodically on the phone and via Skype since December.  He has arranged an apartment for me which will cost roughly $80 per month.  No contract.  No deposit.  I’m really excited to head to my home for the next four months, fully unpack and settle in, and begin my work with DEPDC.  The next chapter is about to reveal itself…

Sunday Walking Street Market

I’m spending the evening relaxing on my lovely private balcony overlooking Moon Muang Soi 7.  Google Earth it if you want. I’m waving to you right now!  I’ve got some chocolate cake – a sweet score from an organic bakery – some True Blood for later and a one way ticket to Mae Sai in the morning.  Things are good.  They are better than good.  Reporting live from Chiang Mai.  Romeo, Alpha, Delta. Over and out.

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6 thoughts on “Arrivederci

  1. Whew!!!!! I’m all caught up now!!!! AND TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY!!!! Reading your “voice” has completely re-ignited my wanderlust!!! I’m caught between writing down tons of questions I’ll ask you someday, squirreling away ideas for future travel, and TOTALLY lamenting the fact that I did not travel the way I dreamed in my 20’s in Missoula. Too wrapped up in “nesting” at too early of an age… But past is past and if it meant that I wouldn’t be where I am TODAY, then I wouldn’t go back and change a thing! And there is always a future. So THANK you, because you have re-opened my mind and stimulated me to, at the very least, look into things…get ideas….set goals….make a plan. Solo travel is not gonna happen right now, but what a great time me and Miles could have…or how fantastic would it be to introduce our kids to bits of the world early on!!!!??? Some kind of travel/family volunteering gig?!

    I’m taking myself out on a date to a great thai place the next time I get a good tip at work! And now I’m intrigued with trying thai massage…it’s time to learn new modalities!
    I so look forward to hearing more about your adventure! I have always thought of you as such a rare gem of a woman. The most OPEN and accepting person that I have known. Fuckin good on ya, girl!!! You stay safe and continue to have an amazing journey!!!!!!!!!
    ~Dana

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH, Dana! We’ve come along way since MDSC, right? I encourage everyone to travel, especially to the developing world where life is lived in the streets. It is a rare and raw experience that has changed me indefinitely. Americans often have excuses as to why they can’t travel – money, kids, political instability – and to all that I say, “Horse rubbish!” I meet backpackers with very little means exploring all of Southeast Asia. I meet families with small children traversing countries like India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia. I think it’s invaluable to turn your children onto other cultures and ways of living. It might even be better than a college degree. My advice – just do it!!! One thing I know for sure – the media is a fear mongering machine, used to keep people afraid and complacent. Turn off and tune out. Come out and see it for yourself. You will never regret that you did.

      If you want a real take on world events, turn off CNN and MSNBC and Google Al Jazeera. You’ll see things more clearly once you explore this amazing news network.

      Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I love a good dialog and I will do my best to answer accurately. I have so much to say on my blog. I could easily write another three posts on this last week in Chiang Mai alone. But I don’t want to lose my audience by making it too lengthy. I’m glad you have enjoyed reading. I have certainly enjoyed writing. I love to share this experience with all who are interested. I also love hearing from passionate people as yourself who are inspired, intrigued, curious. Thanks for staying tuned. Thank you also for all your encouragement, support and kind words. You melt my heart, dear one.

      xoxo

      N

  2. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  3. Some great pics you shot. What are you going to do in mea sai?

    I rent a car every three months travel chiang mai – mea sai to renew my visa but I usually just walk in and walk out. Just the first part with all the stalls and shops is really annoying to me, I dont really like getting hasseled to buy things i dont need or want every 2 mins. Just wondering what other things there are to do there besides the 50bt copied DVDs ect.

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