03.10.2011 - 08.10.2011 23 °C
After vipassana I met some amazing people that I had been meditating with fr the last 10 days but couldn't even say hi to! We spent 2 lovely days and an evening together after the course kindly hosted by Sanjay. We ate a lot chatted about our experiences during the course, laughed, shared stories, checked emails and discussed our plans for where next.. I was tossing two plans for where next in my head the options where to the North to do Chang Mai OR South to the islands to start my diving course.. then Kate suggested we both head to Chang Mai and travel together into Laos - I decided that was a great idea and we excitedly made our plans together - Carpe Diem!!
Before we left Bangkok i had one of the best massages I have ever had at a company called health land - check them out if you are ever in Bangkok - 5GBP for a 2 hour massage mmm!!
Buses, Tuk Tuk's and meat
We made it back to central Bangkok just in the nick of time, the travel agent we went into on the Koh San told us the last bus North was leaving in 10 minutes and we had to leave right away!! We had a should we, shouldn't we moment before deciding to go for it! We got in the taxi and then realised we had no ticket, no idea where the bus station was and no idea the name of the bus, oh and also we had no money and no food!!.. mm the tour agent had talked to the taxi driver and he seemed to know where he was dropping us so we just went with it.. The taxi dropped us in front of a random hotel with no bus in sight, he spoke no English but kind of pointed us up the road!! We started walking in that direction and asking and finally we found the office for the bus we got tickets and got told to run for the bus as it was about to leave!! Laughing all the way we made it onto the last 2 seats on the bus with money from a quick ATM stop! We were off!! Kate had come from India and me from Africa so we were pleasantly surprised with the luxury of the bus, reclining seats, air con and free snacks!!
We hadn't eaten all evening so we were pleased when the bus finally stopped at midnight to get food. The stop was kind of like a service station. plastic wrapped snacks were at one end and food stalls at the other. We spotted what we thought was tofu and had that in a soup. We are now convinced that the tofu was actually lumps of pork eek!!
The bus journey was around 12 hours, we talked a lot of the way but managed to fall asleep after getting told to be quiet!!
The beautiful old city of Chang Mai
We arrived into Chang Mai early, tired and hungry. We met a local with a crazy mustache and beard, one that twists off at the end he told us we were lucky not to have been there yesterday as there was major flooding and the water was up to his knees! I experienced the crazy rains in Vipassana and I can now see why there is such a huge amount of water in Thailand right now, the rains are intense for nearly the whole day.. We found a guest house from the guide book, dumped our bags and went to explore. We quickly found food in a local street cafe, we saw our "tofu" balls and established they were pork so decided salad was the way forward! When it arrived we ate hungrily until Kate said "Ang you do realise your eating fish brains" eek there was whole fried small fish in the salad gross!!!
Chang Mai is split into an old and new city. The old city is separated by a moat that runs all the way along the outside. The pace inside the old city walls is different, people seemed very relaxed and happy, there is an old beautiful temple on every street corner almost, the streets are small and windy and there is very little traffic as cars are not allowed inside the old city. Outside the city walls the cars buzz along the perimeter, there is a lot of traffic and noise and it seems a totally different place.
Kate is into yoga so I decided to join her for her first yoga class, i am obviously a total novice but I managed to complete the easy class which ended in handstand practice which I did!! On the way back from yoga we dived into a lovely cafe in the middle of a beautiful botanical gardens to escape the rain! We sipped tea Kate with her signature iced green tea frappe and me with a normal green tea and relaxed and discussed life. We had so many amazing conversations about life, love the past and the future!
We found a lovely area in the old city with a great vibe and found a great guest house called smile with a pool and yoga just round the corner! That night we headed to the famous night market, there was everything there you could want from fake mont blanc pens to clothes, jewelery and even a fish tank for fish to clean your feet very random! We had a fruit shake - one of many and had a good look round. Much to Kate's amusement I secured some great bargains haggling hard with the locals!! haha my purchasing experience really comes in use sometimes! The next morning I ran around the old city there was a lovely path next to the moat all the way round, it was so nice but interestingly i didn't see anyone else running this route - im guessing Thais don't enjoy running us much as we do?!
The area we stayed in was lovely quite boutiquey and alternative but still touristy. We found a amazing salad bar there which we could make our own salad.. it had been a while since we had both had a good salad so we both went for it and made enormous salads full of spinach, beets, egg, etc etc.. yum!
One late afternoon we were in a beautiful old wat meditating when we heard a gong and then an older monk came through the door, we suddenly realised that we may be sitting on the monks mats and quickly got up and apologised! he was OK about it and invited us to stay and listen to the evening chanting and to come back in 2 days for a teaching in meditation! The chanting was amazing, so moving in such an old location. We went back to meet the monk on our last day, it was amazing he talked to us all about our vipassana course and answered some of our questions we had about the practice. the most profound thing he shared with us and what i took away was "I don't want happiness. I want peace. This is greater than happiness. And without peace, how can anyone be truly happy? "
We both loved Chang Mai but it was regretfully time to say goodbye and continue our adventures to the countryside of beautiful Pai just a 3 hour bus journey..