Travel Blog: Week 56

Chiang Mai Week 56: 02.12.2013 – 08.12.2013 Monday:- Still feeling a little raw around the edges this morning I had a lazy breakfast, updated my blog, sent emails and did a workout. Today I reached my goal of 10 proper push ups! It’s been a long time coming! I made myself lunch then relaxed on the bed and watched a movie called ‘In Time’. I thought it was surprisingly good and the concept of time being currency was very enlightening. I

Chiang Mai

Week 56: 02.12.2013 – 08.12.2013

Monday:-

Still feeling a little raw around the edges this morning I had a lazy breakfast, updated my blog, sent emails and did a workout. Today I reached my goal of 10 proper push ups! It’s been a long time coming!

I made myself lunch then relaxed on the bed and watched a movie called ‘In Time’. I thought it was surprisingly good and the concept of time being currency was very enlightening.

I was meeting Leo, Luise and Christy at a new shopping mall situated on the superhighway. Every large shopping mall in Chiang Mai seems to be called ‘ Central’…something. This one was called Central Festival. I made it around the superhighway, which is Chiang Mai’s equivalent to the M25, and found the place. In fairness you can’t miss it. IT IS HUGE! Newly opened and partly unfinished I parked up in the scooter park amongst a sea of scooters – seeing is believing. I arrived as Luise did and so we navigated our way around the rutted mud parking area and into the very plush mall. It’s surreal to be in such a modern, chrome and marble place after the street stalls of the old town. Everything is expensive here, just like home, and I now find it hard to contemplate and justify how much I’ve spent in the past on things I just don’t need. This is one reason why I’m glad to be here over Christmas. I want to keep it simple!

  

As it happens we missed the cinema showing we came to see and so popped into a Japanese restaurant for miso soup and gyozas to pass the time until the next screening – the food was good but the sugary versions of Christmas songs they had playing did my head in! It was a good hour to wait and as time ticked away I felt tired and cold in the air conditioning. I also didn’t relish travelling back along the superhighway late at night. I bailed and left early – I’d seen The Hunger Games movie anyway. I left the girls to enjoy the film. I’m glad I headed home early as it was already dark and getting chilly as I sped along. Note to self – I should invest in something long sleeved!

Tuesday:-

Not for the first time did I wake this morning to the sound of dogs barking. There are LOTS of dogs in this area and they really know how to time their outbursts!

I guess I was supposed to be awake early today. I’d completely forgotten there was a Qi Gong class at 9 and this was something I wanted to try again. If you’ve followed by blog you may remember that months ago, when I was on the verge of dengue fever, Leo took me to her class. I passed out!! So anyway, I was awake early and had time to make and partially digest breakfast before the class. I decided I would go. I arrived just in time and took my place in the main studio. I knew a few faces which is always reassuring. Forgive my novice description but to me this discipline is like a mix of yoga and Thai Chi. Very centred on breathing, stance and the natural movement of energy. It was a 90 minute class and about half way through I suddenly felt very hot and rather sick. I sat down and just observed the class. After 5 minutes or so I felt better and rejoined the class, taking it easy on the power of my breathing. I got the hiccups and my stomach rumbled continuously in the peace of the class – apparently these are sure signs of energy shifting. I felt fine for the rest of the session and was careful to consider my posture and breathing. It’s more difficult than it looks. Very subtle changes in your body’s balance can make a huge different. Anyway, I finished the class, proud of the fact I’d managed to stay conscious throughout!

Feeling buoyed by the whole experience I drove round the old town for a while in the glorious sunshine. I stopped at Dream House to speak to Waew. There I met a guy called Rich and we shared travel stories. I gave him some ideas for things to do in Chiang Mai. He had just arrived and was about to embark on a Muay Thai training week. Much kudos to him!!! I went to the market near to Dream House. The area was buzzing and I realised how much I missed this part of town. Some of the locals remembered me and it was lovely to chat with them. Ladened with bananas, papaya, ginger and fresh coconut I returned to Dream House and continued my conversation with Waew in between of slurps of fresh coconut water. For the first time since Thailand has been in the news about their political unrest I passed a convoy of peaceful protesters on the moat road. Watch this space. By now I was zonked, the Qi Gong will do that. I made myself lunch – some of the things in the fridge needed eating. So I had bacon and eggs on toast – eat your heart out ready steady cook!

I was out again early evening for Dance Mandala. I wanted to dance and shake away those thoughts that had been bugging me for the past few days. It was an emotional session but I was kind of expecting that considering my current mood. I’d rather deal with these feelings and move on. After the dancing there are always plates of fruit available for us and I joined the group that had gather around it. I met two lovely ladies, one in particular seemed to be on her own journey of discovery and we had much in common. I jumped back on the scooter and made it back to the apartment. What to have for dinner – but of course, potato salad. Thank goodness I like it!

Wednesday:-

Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, I really do but I could shoot those god damn dogs!!! Really! It was still dark when they began barking. What puzzles me is that no one does a thing, they just let them bark. I guess I need to take a leaf out of the Thais book and chill. I managed to get back to sleep until they started up again around 8.

I had breakfast and geared myself up for sorting out my finances. It’s been a time of challenges in this area too – the house back in the UK is no longer paying for itself (Aylesbury people – if you know of anyone suitable who wants to rent a room, please let me know) and also the central heating has needed a repair. Both my credit card logins have blocked me and the only way to reset them is to call the UK! And now my bank is changing its internet banking security – I need a secure key apparently. I’d emailed them to explain I was abroad and could they answer a few very specific questions. I got a standard answer – you know the one which politely says ‘go away and find out for yourself via the FAQs’. Well this morning I waded my way through the FAQs which didn’t help so I decided to follow the instructions and set it up anyway, only to find my trusty old iPhone does not support their necessary App. Huuuuhhhhhh! Thank goodness for music – Mylie Cyrus was playing on my iPad….

“I can almost see it.
That dream I’m dreaming, but
There’s a voice inside my head saying
You’ll never reach it
Every step I’m takin’
Every move I make
Feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin’
But I, I gotta keep tryin’
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down, but
No I’m not breaking
I may not know it, but
These are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep goin’,
And I, I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on, ’cause

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb

Keep on movin’
Keep climbin’
Keep the faith baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa, whoa, oh.”

Deep breath, it’s a beautiful sunny day here so time to go out and forget about everything else. I did just that. I went to the pool as I figured exercise would do me some good. The pool was empty and I enjoyed the cooler than usual water. I managed 70 lengths again and it was getting easier. Just as I was about to finish two guys turned up disturbing the peace and the beautiful still water! I got talking to them – they were Danish and had just started to live here running their marketing business remotely. One of them was dishy and said ‘we should go out sometime’! Sadly when he left he didn’t leave his number. I lay by the pool in the warm sun and dried out whilst listening to music. As I left I thought carpe diem – I wrote down my number and left it with the pool reception. Maybe he’d come back and my number would be passed on!

  

 

I went back to the old town and had lunch at one of the street food kitchens. I realised yesterday that I’d really missed walking around my old stomping ground so I went back today and immersed myself in it.

  

A quick stop to see Waew and then off to Airport Plaza to the movies. I went to see The Counsellor – it was OK, but I think I should just stick Sci Fi! The cinema was freezing and I ended up huddling under my damp swimming towel. Never a good environment for movie watching. Still cold I dropped into Tops then back to the apartment. It was chilly driving back too. Reinforce note to self – long sleeved top required.

I had a warming bowl of homemade soup for dinner and snuggled under the duvet to watch movies.

Thursday:-

Awake early again but managed to wile away the entire morning doing pretty much nothing – I did workout though! I also got a call from Waew who then passed the phone to the guy I’d chatted to there a few days ago. I’d left my notebook at Dream House so after showering I headed over there. Rich, the guy – I know, it’s taken all my powers not to say “I’ve been looking for a rich man” but it’s just so cheesy – was there and we chatted a while until I dropped by to Free Bird to deliver my bagful of clothes for them to sell.

  

  

I had a wander around the old town, bought a few things and had lunch at Beetroot corner. Beetroot salad (obviously) and a carrot, apple and ginger juice which packed a punch. It was the King’s birthday today, also known as Fathers Day, and there were going to be celebrations at Thai Pae gate later – not much going on at the moment apart from some graffiti art and someone handing out badges.

 

I went back to the apartment passing hotels which had changed the standard light bulbs lighting the the outside corridors to blue and red bulbs. It made them look like huge Thai flags. There really does seem to be such loyalty to the king here.

  

It was really cold in the evenings now so I did a quick change into jeans, the warmest top I could find and my scarf and went back to the old town. It was the kings birthday and I felt like I should be in the old town to join whatever celebrations there might be. I parked up and was hungry for Khao Soi so headed for the little street restaurant on Soi 6. I was sidetracked when Ocean waved me down, so I chatted with her for a while – Alex was also there playing the piano in the bakery. What I lovely moment!

So I sat at the low table. The lady recognised me and knew I’d want Khao Soi. I sat next to a couple, Diana and Mark, from the UK and we talked for well over a hour. They were only in Thailand for three weeks but were already wishing they could stay. They too were trying to decide the direction of their lives. We finished our meals and were about to part company when I realised they had been charged for my meal too. I guess they thought we were all together the way we were talking. I tried to hand the cost of my meal to them but they insisted I kept in. Dinner was on them. These are the priceless moments of travelling.

As I walked to Thai Pae gate to check on the celebrations I got a text from Klaus – the guy from the pool. He’d got my number and had made contact. He was working (he was on Danish time – doing business with his home country) and would be for a while. He would call me when he was done and we’d go from there. Thai Pae gate was quiet. The celebrations were over apart from the occasional lantern being released.

  

 

Many restaurants and bars had closed for the night but I wasn’t ready to go home just yet. I went to a place called Tee Tree. They had a jam night on a Thursday. Not your classic jam night – it was Tom Tom drums and didgeridoo. There was also hula hooping going on in this hippy vibe veggie restaurant and I joined in. I really wanted to learn how to get the hoop to move up my body as I twirled. OK, so having it explained and then actually doing it were two totally different things. I’d have to work on it. I spent my bonus dinner money on a drink, hula’d some more and then called it a night. I got back to the apartment around midnight.

Friday:-

Today saw the passing of Nelson Mandela – a great man by anyone’s standards. Facebook was filled with his words and I’ve chosen a couple of quotes I felt particularly drawn to ……. and should keep in mind!

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

When I turned on my phone in the morning I noticed Klaus had eventually texted me at 12:30 and then again at 1:30. OK, much that I would like some male company, texting me at 12:30 to arrange to meet (that night) did not really work for me. Is someone messing with my head??? Is my choice to compromise who I am for the sake of company? As it happened when I tried to text Klaus that morning my phone was out if credit – was that my answer?

I stopped at Dream House, bought a phone top up, texted Klaus, (who by the way I never heard from again!) and then went in search of long sleeved tops at the second hand market. Worawat market seemed to call to me as I drove through so I stopped off and had a wander. I ended up buying some underwear which was no mean feat – as although I could try the bra on at this place, most don’t let you, I had to change in the middle of the store! I don’t know what everyone found so funny – a girl can get a complex you know!! Onto the second hand market – I ended up buying three tops for less than £2. One was a zip up white hoodie which would not only keep me warm but would help me glow in the dark too – handy when travelling on the scooter.

So, as I was leaving I saw the very sad looking ginger tabby sitting under one of the trestle tables. He was painfully skinny, dirty and his heart was pumping almost out of his chest. I bought him some food and opened the bag just next to him. He sniffed it without any interest but slowly and awkwardly raised himself with a small meow. I gave him a stroke which was, I think, all he wanted. Sadly, I think he probably had a thyroid deficiency and his days were very much numbered. Thank goodness I don’t live here, I’d have a heard of cats by now!!

I had one earphone in my ears and was listening to happy music as I crossed back over the river – I love the freedom of the scooter. Over the bridge and straight into the waiting clutches of the police. They pulled me over, just for the sheer thrill of it, and slapped me a fine for not carrying my international driving license. Such a driving license, I have to admit, I don’t actually own. So right there and then I got a ticket and, as I was handily close the the police station (I’d been there enough times with Taywin to know where it was), it was “suggested” I might like to pay the 500THB right now and then get my scooter back. Cha-ching! Grrrrrr! These things make me mad!!! I made it to the police station, took my queuing number and waited with the others – a mix of tourists and locals. A hunched Thai woman shuffled towards the door and I got up to open it for her, she preceded to ignore the queuing system, went straight to the desk where she was seen straight away and then left. She forgot to take her bag of shopping with her so I got up once again and took it to her. It was then my turn to be seen. Now, if you believe in Karma, you might believe one good turn deserves another. This may take days, months or years to play out but for me when I got to the desk my 500THB became 200THB. Go figure!

I went back to the apartment for lunch (including some chocolate cake – not sure how that jumped into my shopping basket, but check out my awesome parking space!) and then some meditation.

  

This afternoon I headed out of town to see my next potential home sit. It was further out than most of the journeys I’d taken and along the superhighway. It’s not such fun on these roads but it is interesting to see the landscape change and the temperature fluctuate. Apart from a stop to ask some security men on the front gate – amusingly they all saluted me when I arrived – I found the place on the first attempt. As a gated community it’s pretty grand but still in the early stages of its development. Many plots still laying empty. Anahit, the lady who lived at the house, returned home just as I arrived and I was welcomed warmly.

  

She introduced me to my charges – 2 cats and a dog – and showed me around the place. It was one storey, wonderfully light and open plan and backed onto a kind of canal system. The canals were filled with the most gigantic lily pads I’ve ever seen. It was peaceful and would be a wonderful place to stay a while …..even if it was a way out of town! It was dark and bloody freezing by the time I got back. A quick change into long trousers and long sleeves and back out. I was having dinner with Marian and Irene at their place. I stopped off for some beers and choccies. The roads were manic as there was a festival on at Nimmanhaemin. I thought I was being clever by taking a side road but it was gridlock – not even a weeny space for a scooter to get through. I turned back around to try another route finding I was blocked both ways. I did eventually find that weeny space and wiggled through.

At dinner I met Elizabeth, the lady who’s house I lived on for a few weeks. It was a great evening and the food was fabulous – a Thai style Spag Bol with salad, followed by apple crisp and icecream. I enjoyed the first and second helpings – nom nom! We were then treated to a slide show of Irene and Marian’s pictures from their recent trip to China. Another destination to add to the list.

Saturday:-

I woke really early today and for no apparent reason. I was up and ready in plenty of time for yoga this morning. The yoga teacher today was a lovely lady called Esther. I’m guessing she was originally from the States. She was a gentle soul as many yoga teachers are but she had a no nonsense approach and a great sense of humour (sarcasm is not something you hear from the Americans very often but she had it down to a fine art) – my kind of lady! The class was gentle yoga, I’m still building myself up, but the poses stretched parts of my body long forgotten. There were only 7 of us in the class which was perfect for spacing on the floor and also so we had individual help with getting the pose right.

I dropped by at Dream House before heading to the Da Bakery for a proper breakfast. I’d just had a smoothie before the class, mostly because the fridge was just about empty. I would have to move out in a few days time as Matt was returning on Monday. Anyway, breakfast was French toast and fruit. Something I hadn’t had in a while – delicious. I was at a loss of what to do today…..

I headed for the pool. It was busy but most people were toasting themselves in the sun. The water was freezing, so I did my lengths got out and went home. I had a late lunch, relaxed a while and then went out for Dancemandala. It was the best session so far and I really lost myself in the most amazing music – earth, air, space, fire and water! And then escaped into peace during the meditation at the end.

Another quick turnaround and out to meet Luise at the Nimmanhaemin festival. It was heaving again tonight but luckily for me I could park at Marian’s and Irene’s. There was live music and craft stalls. A different vibe to the Sunday market and the night market – this was very trendy!

  

  

  

 

  

I was cream crackered when I got back to the apartment.

Sunday:-

I braved yoga again despite my very achy body. What a difference a day makes! The class had 18 people attending – more than double yesterday’s attendance. Ooo, ouch I felt about 100 and just about made it through the 90 minutes. Back to the apartment for a shower and an early lunch then out again. I stopped in at Dream House briefly, had a unfruitful trip to Worowat market and went back to the apartment. I stopped at Birds Nest for a drink, got talking for so long that I ended up having dinner there too. Back to the apartment – just wanted to chill now!

I started my packing and got ready to move out in the morning. I seem to accumulate stuff without even thinking about it. As well as my clothes etc, I’m lugging around things I really ought to send home, my hula hoop and now household things too. A few bowls, cutlery, necessary condiments (like marmite), and boxes of rice and pasta. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things but it’s enough when moving as often as I do and doing it all on a scooter. I was pretty much sorted by the time I turned in. The rest could wait until tomorrow.

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