So this time, I'm writing to you from my bed on a sleeper train in Thailand...a MUCH better ride than the sleeper bus of India. It's been a while since we last talked, almost a whole month. I do apologize, sweet fans of mine, but I have been taking a holiday from my holiday, chilling in Chiang Mai this entire time and well, I just didn't know quite how to stretch the days of lying by the pool and the nights of drinking at my favorite reggae bar into an entire blog entry. But here goes...
I went directly from the chaos of India to the comfort of Little Bird hostel, hoping to find some more of the magic that I had experienced there two months before. I knew I could never recreate the family of friends I had made there the first time, but when in less than an hour of me dropping my bags and picking my bunk, Natalie, a welsh friend from my first round at Little Bird came into my room, I knew things were off to a good start. Like me, she was also escaping to her safety zone. Her boyfriend/traveling partner had gone to a meditation retreat at a monastery up north and instead of biding her time in Bangkok, she'd opted for a second dose of good old Chiang Mai. It was so good to hear her adorable little welsh accent as we caught up on the time we'd been away and reminisced about the times we'd had together.
As if one old friend wasn't treat enough, I also had Charlotte from England and Jason from Australia to meet up with. Charlotte and Jason had been here on my first trip, staying at Little Bird while searching for English teaching jobs. Now roommates in their very own adorable and insanely inexpensive apartment, I spent most of this month hanging out with them. Charlotte and I especially, became very close, as it's been a while since either of us has been in one place long enough to have a "bestie." I had forgotten how much I love girl talk and gossip, and I miss her already.
Hmmm...so let's see...I must have done something more than work on my tan and swap secrets with Charlotte. Well yes, every now and then.
I went to a Muay Thai fight. I did that last time, though this one was a bit different. The first 4 fights were between children, for one thing. Young boys, some couldn't have been more than 10 years old. It was interesting I guess, but you do feel a little weird just chilling with a beer while watching a couple kids beat the crap out of each other. Thankfully, the last two fights were adult matches and one of the fighters was even an American guy from Alaska...he won, too!
I also spent a day with a new friend, Chris, filling in for his friend Robbie, who was much to hungover to move. Chris and I went to see a crocodile show where he actually got his picture taken sitting (and even standing) on one of the croc's back! Wanting to keep all of my fingers and toes in place, I refused to go into the pool area, but I did get to reach over the fence to hold one by its tail...which didn't last long (slippery sucker). I was quite happy to be separated by the fence as he slithered away. We saw a monkey show that day, too. A bit humiliating for the poor furry little guys, they rode tricycles and played basketball and did all sorts of other silly tricks.
My favorite thing I did was by far the ladyboy cabaret that Charlotte and I went to see. A proper drag show, those ladies do put on a great show! One even did a number to Frank Sinatra's "My Way" where he started out dressed like Marilyn Monroe, then as the song progressed, removed his falsies, his makeup, his wig, and his dress so that by the time he sang the last big "I did it myyyyyyy wayyyyyy," he was wearing a suit and looking like the man he starts out as every morning. It was pretty amazing to watch the transformation in reverse.
I also spent an evening at Charlotte and Jason's place where their friend Ah cooked up a feast of traditional Thai food (and yes, I even liked some of it), saw a couple of movies (The Avengers and American Pie Reunion) both of which rocked, caught a traditional thai holiday parade (completely by luck), pet a baby elephant while visiting the Chiang Mai zoo, and spent a weekend giving the town of Pai another shot (it is truly way more fun when not suffering from the horrible head cold I had last time) where I swam in a waterfall, saw some canyons, and got covered in day-glo paint at the Spicy Pai full moon party.
All in all, I loved my decision to do Chiang Mai, round 2. I got to see old friends, met new ones, and had some of the best times I've had on this whole trip. Now I'm heading off to Cambodia, and let's just say it's got a lot to live up to.