Monday, June 13, 2011
Chiang Mai - The bitter and sweet
I was lost. I thought I knew where I was going - I was headed towards an aromatherapy shop that I found off of one of the canal streets of the old city. I wandered for over an hour, before realizing that I was heading in the wrong direction. I pride myself on my sense of direction, so you can imagine what was going on in my head.
I tried to catch a red taxi (the best) - out of the several I tried to flag down, one stopped and then drove away shaking his head because he didn't know the place I was looking for. I was frustrated and sweaty, and starting to get really peeved. I stopped for a while on one of the bridges, and took a picture of the brown river below (it was still beautiful). The sun was bright and there was a light breeze that lifted some of the sweat off of my face. So, I just kept walking.
Finally, I found a driver that stopped and took me close to what I was looking for. When I got to the shop, I found it closed and that pushed me over the edge. I started to think about everything I didn't like about this place. The previously mentioned air pollution, the old white men with young Thai women (everywhere), the puddle of fish guts I accidentally stepped in, the stink of feces mixed in with food, no car seats or seat belt usage, kids/toddlers/babies on scooters (no helmets)... and on and on. I was hating this place at that time. I was stomping around on blistered feet feeling bitter and angry. It didn't help that I was sweating for the millionth time.
I put my headphones on as a distraction, and flagged down another cab. I think the driver could tell how irritated I was, and didn't argue with me when I asked for a ride for 60 baht. He just nodded his head and took me to where I was going. I noticed he kept watching me in the mirror - I was just listening to David Gray and tried to get cool. After a bit, he asked me where I was from and we struck up a conversation. He was easily the nicest driver I have yet had. He asked me if I missed home (and I do now a bit), and told me it would get better. That was all I needed to turn my day back to where it should be.
When I got back to the guesthouse, I gave him 100 baht and told him to keep the change. I was just happy to be back, where Cory was waiting to take me to the monastery on the hill (of which I will blog about later). The day was turning right around for me.
I was able to get back to thinking about the good stuff that I like and will miss about Chiang Mai. The ride to school - first stop at McDonald's for breakfast (English muffin for me and juice with B-Vitamins and some sort of sausage thingy for Cory), then drive down the back alley to Ratchamasomething road. Cross by the women's market and over the bridge. Turn left when you see the sign with the Thai Justin Bieber look alikes - down the narrow road past the British pub and turn right onto the road that takes us to school. I have the sequence down in my memory. I will (and already do) miss my teacher, Mint and going to class. I will miss the daily stretching and bending and even the sweating. I will miss the countless fresh fruit stands by the side of the roads, the lovely Thai women in their super high heels, the vans that drive around and promote who knows what on loud speakers. I will miss the bike - driving and riding. Mostly riding though, because of my expert chauffer. I wll miss my beloved Japanese Sauna, where they know me by name now too.
This city has much love for me and from me. I can't beleive that today is my last day here before I head off to the South for some beach time. After all this hard work I have been doing, I know it is time for some rest in the sun. And more fun...
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