Journey to the unknown: Thailand – Chiang Mai
I was in Thailand, in Chiang Mai city, and I was traveling alone and I had lasted much longer than I had anticipated. It had been 10 days since I landed and things were getting better and better each day. For some reason getting up early had become the norm since there was so much to do and so many places to go and so little time here. 3 weeks seemed a short period now to experience all that you could.
The memories of the last evening were still playing strong. As it usually happens with me, my mind will take the incident and change a parameter and try to simulate the whole thing again. It continues over and over again you give it a mental kick saying Enough! I wanted to sleep, to calm my mind and make peace with everything but finally I decided that coffee might be the better solution.
While I was staring at myself in the mirror, brushing my teeth I had a realization. Until I go out and make new memories, the older one will continue to dominate. So I went downstairs for the buffet breakfast. Food, hot coffee and juice. Just what I needed. I was sitting idly taking a long time over my breakfast and happened to see a Thai woman seated alone at the next table. She seemed a little unhappy. However the worst part was that I started to wonder if she was a hooker who had just come from the room of a patron. But then I seized my mind and told it not to assume things for once.
I checked with the tourist counter to see where all I can go. The Doi Inthanon mountain caught my fancy again. Yes, it might be quite a touristy spot but then it was the highest point of Thailand and somehow I wanted to go. I had so wanted to rent a nice bike and do a road trip that this just seemed perfect. I packed a little bag and decided to head out. It was supposed to be around 100KM to the peak. At first I was amazed at how expensive the bikes I wanted were. The basic 125cc bikes were cheap (250B/day) but I didn’t want them. The heavy >500cc bikes were 1200B/day and too expensive. I hoped to get a 250cc bike for around 600B/day. Finally after a little searching for Honda CBR250R for 800B/day. For 290 THB I had a full tank. I headed down to the highway. The entrance to the park was only about 65KM. In India that would have meant about 2 hours of mind bending traffic. But here there roads are gorgeous and empty. I could easily and consistently go above 100KMPH and in between to satisfy my thrill I went up to 155 KMPH. That was the limit of the bike but not of my adrenalin rush.
In about an hour I got to the entrance. Before getting there I stopped at a local small restaurant and tried my basic Thai. I asked for coffee and learned that Hot = RAWN. I also said Tho rai (how much) and then the Khao pad (fried rice). Had a nice 30 minute break and then headed to the park. The entrance fee was about 200B and 20B for motorbike. Just a couple of KMs later I found this nice waterfall spot. However it was surprising to see tons of camps.
From that point onwards the uphill climb began. It was a little difficult on the wrists and the last 10KM were chilly. But overall it was a nice beautiful ride. At the summit of Doi Inthanon, I got a cup of hot latte and started listening to some music. For some unknown reason it made melancholy. Found this little trail and walked around.
One of the informative sign-boards there talked about Living Together. How that is essential for a forest to exist! There is an ecosystem and everything works accordingly and we are all a part of the same. I spent a good 10 minutes pondering on the thought. Then I came to a nice wooden bench and sat down to write my journal. A few minutes later a Korean family came and sat there too. We started chit-chatting and it was fun to know about these strangers. It turned out to be a wonderful conversation.
Finally I decided it was time to head back and so I took the bike and stared going back down. I stopped every once in a while to breathe in the spectacular views. The only disconerting thing was that it was a steep slope down and hence there were moments of heart-in-mouth moments when I thought I had lost control of the bike. It was burning hot and I was wood-stiff. I stopped at the same place as I ate in morning and had a chilled coke. I was really tired but I really wanted to get a shower. Back again on the highway and I was going like crazy. I kept driving constantly above 100 and the heat was starting to affect me. The more frustrating part was the few KMs of slow city traffic. I mustered all my strength to get to hotel and parked. I got to my room, threw off the clothes and looked at myself. I looked like shit! Like i had been lost in the mountains for a few days.
The hot shower felt wonderful. Nothing can compare with that feeling I would say. I met a friend in the evening and we had a couple of drinks. Luckily she spoke good English and we had a wonderful conversation about Life and its mysteries. She left around 10.30PM and I hung around at the bar with my drink and various thoughts to ponder over. It seems like your mind makes you. It can play havoc on your life by suddenly making an inappropriate mental connection leading to emotional trauma. To get over this trauma you do things that make you feel better but might be the worst thing you ever did. And later comes the guilt. All in all it is tricky to be aware of when your mind is guiding you right and when it is fucking you up. The one who learns this can be the happy man. Or woman.
That night sleep came easy for it had answered one of the great mysteries.