Sometimes I almost have to pinch myself to make sure I’m really not dreaming all these beautiful experiences up…not that traveling solo is all laugher and merriment. It’s not. It’s mixed times of incredible loneliness and unfathomable beauty; frustrations and new friendships; missed trains and breathtaking mountains; deep-fried tarantulas and tiramisu. Crazy highs and the darkest lows. Basically it takes a lot of guts, a lot of foolishness and a lot of wisdom to travel – to REALLY travel: saying “yes” to barbequed rat offered by a village host, “yes” to spontaneously changing plans, “yes” to new cultures and viewpoints, “yes” to bamboo bridges, slippery trails, hard mattresses, and squat toilets, “yes” to motorbiking through busy city streets, “yes” to being unsure what the hell you are doing – alone – thousands of miles from home; “yes” to experiencing life and this lovely world we live in.
The last few days I have had so many “moments” that it begs the question where to even start…. Basically, I radically changed my “Cambodia only” plans and ended up in Northern Thailand at the encouragement of some lovely people I met in Siem Reap. Through previous experience traveling, I have learned to listen to people who say “you absolutely have to go to such and such…” ! It pays to pay attention to those exclamations of beauty and excitement – the eyes lighting up and the heads nodding in agreement. Walking through the streets of Pai – North Thailand – this afternoon I was so grateful that I listened and followed my own constant search for beauty as well.
Pai is a little mountain town off the beaten path – precisely 139 km and 762 curves in the road from Chiang Mai – due North. The drive up there is not for the faint of heart but the views as you climb higher and higher through mountains of green jungle forest is so breathtaking that its worth every hairpin turn and the hours it takes to get there. I’ve truly never seen anything like this landscape. Tomorrow’s adventures will find me on a scooter or motorbike (yikes!) prowling around the vista points and local attractions. Can’t wait!! The actual town of Pai is a haven for hippie travelers – full of that laid-back energy: guitar players on the riverbanks, hipster little bars, yoga, but still very Thai too…massage shops all over, Thai food, street vendors, souvenirs and tour businesses galore. Just wonderful to walk around and take it all in. I kinda ate my way around the town this evening: roasted corn on the cob, spring roll, pad thai, whiskey…so much fun.
Anyway, this was supposed to primarily be about the overnight trekking trip I did to the mountain Karen tribe/villages outside Chiang Mai…but I don’t want to this to get too long so I shall save that story (and pictures!) for tomorrow night (I hope!) Allow me to say that it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced: slumber party in a remote tribal village; breaking down language barriers with lots of laughter and thumb wars; communal tobacco and hot vodka; trekking through rivers and torch-lit caves; bumping down backroads in the back of a truck, and making new friends. I will never ever forget this.
Till the next post, take care and here’s to 2015!! May it be truly be all that we hope it to be!