dinner on the overnight train...with anna! and john!
john and i met anna in bangkok...a lone white face among throngs of asians and arabs. we spent what felt like days (probably only an hour or two) at the most confusing, busy mall i have ever been to in my life, so that i could replace my camera (AGAIN!) and anna could unlock her phone. despite the fact that it's slightly ridiculous to have spent our entire time in bangkok inside a mall, it was a really new, exciting experience! people pushing all around, seemingly endless stores, electronics everywhere... but enough is enough! on to the overnight train, to arrive in chiang mai the next morning.
the train ride was also surprisingly enjoyable. the toilet drained straight through onto the tracks below. the 'stewardess' (what do you call them on trains?) was flirting with john (with all of us?) and she poured herself a glass of our beer and chugged it.
we made friends with a bunch of christian kids from texas, on a mission to save thailand. we had way too much food. we ate breakfast in our top bunks because the people below us slept soooooooo late. [if you get a sleeper train, get the bottom bunk - then you have a window, and the freedom to open your table whenever you want.] chiang mai is big and pretty and busy and touristy. cool market. next!
electricity buzzes in the air, the atmosphere fully charged. ash floats down from the smoke-filled sky, burning our lungs and our eyes. we zoom through the countryside on our motorbikes, dodging dogs and people. spent my birthday riding around, hiking in pai canyon on the most sketchy path i've ever seen, eating pb&j on pita, trying to find a mysterious hot spring that turned into a desolate wasteland, delicious veggie dinner (sauteed morning glory!), hanging out in my new (!) travel hammock.
relaxed at the witching well (an amazing cafe) and ate many delicious meals there. we all felt at home in pai, comfortable, connected. power and confidence was oozing from my skin, this perpetual excitement and anticipation...everything is inspiring! discovered my new passion: riding a motorbike! it was really hard to say goodbye to pai, although now i have another place in the world to come back to (NOT in march when it's on fire...november next time?)
a last-minute flight to bangkok brought us in on saturday evening, and we went straight to rex's place. i left my phone in chiang mai (of course), so we just tried to figure out how to find him...and we did! i guess life is
possible without mobile phones? hmmm, maybe.
we wandered around with rex and his sweet girlfriend som in his neighborhood, nibbled on some spicy fish cakes with cucumber, watched a bunch of fat thai men wearing plastic-covered pink boxer shorts hack apart pigs in a cement room, took a ferry across the river to wind our way through an endless maze of teeny tiny little markets selling watches and club clothing and sugar gliders and chinchillas in mini cages and cigarettes and deep-fried bugs, stepping around a legless man dragging himself through the street pushing a beggars cup ahead of him, then an extravagant street dinner. a rough taxi ride separated john, anna and i from rex and som, and we went to seek out the sex shows at soy cowboy that bangkok is so known for. where we ended up was not enticing, exciting, sexy, erotic.
..it was like being at a middle-school dance, where the girls stand around awkwardly, kinda chatting and being very self-conscious and shy...and topless. it was upsetting and icky, so we left....only to sit down in a cave-themed club with lady-boys on the rotating stage! they were much more interesting than the little girls, but we didn't stay long there, either. home, sleep, then, completely disconnected from the fact that anna and i were about to be in INDIA, a few hours later a rushed good bye with john and rex.
it's really cool to approach anna and john standing together, two very important people in my life... two worlds bridged in bangkok.