Yesterday I woke up feeling a little shaky, but so much better. I still had the sunken in look to my eyes, but I actually recognized myself. I made it to school for abdominal massage day (at first I was hesitant, but quickly realized that it was helping me settle my tummy). As the day progressed, I held closely to the diet of rice, bananas, electrolytes, bread and water. By the end of class I was raring to go.
I have to give props to my roomie for getting a scooter. He told me he would give me a ride after we got back yesterday evening from class to check out the city. For 200 baht a day, he has freedom to come and go as he chooses. I am jealous :) I asked him to teach me how to drive it...
So we hopped on the bike around 5:30 and set out to see Chiang Mai. He (Cory) was able to assimilate quickly, maneuvering in and out of traffic and following the break neck pace with surprising ease. Even more surprising was how much I was at peace on the back of that scooter... I wasn't nervous - I was exhilarated. I wanted him to go as fast as possible (again, the heat?) - so we headed out of town onto the open road and cruised. My stomach was iron clad in it's resolve to hang on to the meager lunch I had hours before.
Choking on fumes (the air pollution is horrendous here), we decided to stop and get some water and look for sunglasses. It is tough to ride around without some protection on your face. For whatever reason, finding sunglasses in this town is a major challenge. The locals just don't seem to wear them. No luck for us on that count. So we decided to look for the mall to grab some dinner.
At an intersection, we found another westerner friendly enough to offer directions to the mall. Turns out, his sister is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa - go figure. It is SUCH a small world. He was a friendly, hippie, ex-pat who gave us his take on life in a couple of minutes at the intersection. Find a woman with money, get lots of massage, and don't trust a massage therapist who doesn't like to receive massage - that is the sure sign of a control freak. His words - not mine :) We laughed with him and shouted our thanks over the roar of the traffic as the light changed.
We headed toward the mall (ironically, we were just up the road from it) and stopped at an outdoor Mexican cafe for some truly authentic Mexican food. I was ravenous and a bit over zealous in my enjoyment of real food (yes, I did pay for it later). However, in the moment - dirty and covered with road dust and pollution, free of abdominal pain, and starving from days without much to eat, I just didn't care. I had the best burrito of my life and a very strong Mojito.
After dinner, we walked the mall for a bit (still no sunglasses) and then on to my first scooter lesson. It was an experience I still can't stop laughing about. Cory assumed that because I was older or whatever that I knew what I was doing. Clearly I didn't - I almost ran us into traffic, and then couldn't back up properly. So, Cory got off the bike and backed me up and then let me practice on my own - (he was too scared to jump on with me). I circled around the parking lot of the gas station for a while, nearly running into the back of a truck in my confusion about braking and accelerating - almost took out a tent, and then caught the attentions of a local vendor who was there to set up shop for the next day. Between the vendor and the gas station attendants, I was a great source of amusement. :) After a few minutes, I had the balance down and the braking and acceleration were coming along, however, Cory didn't trust my new skills in the hectic Chiang Mai traffic. Seriously, people don't stop in this country!
So, we hopped on the bike with Cory driving, laughing about my attempts as we headed off into the muggy, frenzied night. Behind my shoulder, I could see the mountain in the dark - watching over us as we sped away... Cory weaving in and out of traffic like a scooter master. Maybe it was the combination of the laughter and the near death experience for the third time on this journey, but I almost felt like I was 20 something again. Having the burrito re-visit me in the middle of the night didn't even phase me later ;)