Chiang Mai : Travelling without moving.
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 90 of 268 › view all entries
'You expose the film in me, we're drawing :
Rings around the World.
Sooner or later we will melt together and draw :
Rings around the World.'
- 'Rings Around the World', The Super Furry Animals
And so it is, in the comforting embrace of SpicyThai Backpackers Hostel and the soothing environs of lovely Chiang Mai that for the first time in my journey I surrender to near total, necessary inertia. “Hey, it’s Christmas after all!”. The weather remains hot.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t succumb 100% to sitting on my bum in my time in Chiang Mai. But near enough. There are occasional moments of inspiration; unexpected bursts of energy that tear me and the gang away from the home cinema setup, free internet and beer fridge and catapault us out into this scenic city. There are the tigers of course [see previous blog entry]. I do a good couple of my usual walking tours of the Old Town central spread of the city.
There is an abortive attempt by Noom to very kindly take us all in the SpicyThai-mobile to the greatly revered hilltop temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (Doi Suthep for short). This journey though soon grinds to a halt in a morass of honking car horns, motorbikes, police cars, glinting steel fenders and scrambling, opportunistic street vendors. Confusion, chaos and sweltering, exhaust fume laced heat reigns. It turns out, one of the Royal clan has decided to make an impromptu pilgrimage to the temple and stay at the ‘palace’ in its proximity. Word got out. The entire world, his marigold chain and his monkey have consequently dashed out here in an attempt to get up the hill and cop a glance.
Because this is one of endearing facts about travel; long term travel, I am finding. Whilst you continue to float about the globe in your own incidental way, it goes without saying that you will meet many, many wonderful persons, fellow travellers and adventurers as you go. Some, if not many of them will, hopefully, and if only for a fleeting moment or matter of days become friends. Whether this be the case or not, it is assured that conversation will near always be dominated by “How are you?” - “Sohowlong’veyoubeentravelling?” - “Sowhichcountries’veyoubeentoo?” - “Sowheredoyouplantogonext?” - “What’sbeenyourfavouritecountrysofar?” and so on and suchlike.
And it’s great (if a tad repetitive sometimes) for we are constantly painting paths for one another through our words and the relating of our experiences. As we start to utter our adventure and routes we are crafting little maps within the minds of our audiences. You can see the little red dots appears on these maps before the minds eye, being joined dot to dot as you gab away. Paths well trodden. Sometimes less so. “OhI’vebeenthere!” - “Ohyeah! Likethatplacewassoooobeautiful!” - “OhI’mheadingtherenext.” - “Anyrecommendationspal?”. And so we start to travel through others too within our own journeys. An exchange of anecdotes, advice and ideas.
And this happens a lot. This interchange of ideas, when you stop still for a while. Call it a cross-pollination of destination. There’s a firm group of friends forming here over the week at SpicyThai, over easy beers, breakfasts, endless DVDs, Star Wars drinking games and games of poker and speed-Jenga.
Many moments are enjoyed in Chiang Mai amidst the lethargy and Chang beers which I won’t write about too extensively about in keeping with the lazy mindset of the time. Doi Suthep (Paul, Henry, Patrick and I did eventually get up there another day) is an impressively ornate and beautifully decorated temple although its principle golden chedi was covered in restoration bamboo struts. Its hilltop position commands amazing views back down over the broader sprawl of the city of Chiang Mai. The airport and so forth.
For the most part us SpicyThais just mooch in and around the confines of the moat-bordered Old City or head out to the villages and trekking hills about. I pass on the latter activity having done very similar things in Nepal recently. There is - as already mentioned - a good number of fine and interesting temples within the city, Wat Chedi Luang being the oldest and most impressive, sat at the heart of the City square.
But all good things must come to an end. The travel urge; the itchy feet reawaken from the beer-induced coma after a time. So, slowly fragmenting from the whole, in the days following on from Christmas we all start to peel off from the main group, and move away, alone, or in little clusters come together for company on the next legs of our respective journeys.
So P, J (NYC) ‘n’ me, we all headed up to Pai for New Years. B, he headed south to Phagnan for Full Moon and the promise of getting laid. JC, C, S, A and (Canada) J, well they all stayed at Spicy a little longer. And L & R, they went to trek. And then P, J (NYC) and me, we all split in directions three. Chiang Dao, Phagnan and Mae Hong Son respectively. I return to SpicyT where once again A, L, R and a comatose (Canada) J still reside and they all are off to Laos. Meantime JC & S, a visa run and then Ko Tao maybe. P & C bumped into each other in Phi Phi, and P in Sukhothai had also met me.