Scenes from Chiang Mai.
Five stories from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
I am an awesome carton of unicorn milk.
It was a little awkward being back in a place where I knew I’d be seeing a guy who had slept with me and then ignored me every day. I kept trying to work up the nerve to tell him I wanted to talk, just for a bit of, I don’t know, closure, I guess, but I didn’t. Sometimes I’m just the same old me.
But I also figured it probably wouldn’t do any good, make any difference.
I tend to not be able to move past things. I’m working on that.
Sure, I could have saved myself the trouble by going somewhere else or staying somewhere else, but I liked the hostel and the people there a lot.
I only broke down once, really. On a bar crawl similar to the one where we had officially met. Because he was still avoiding me. Because I missed Beanie. Because I felt stupid caring so much about some idiot when I had had a really good thing in Pai.
I ended up leaving early. If you can consider two in the morning to be early. Though I had been having a nice time hanging out with new friends and talking to the owner of one of the bars.
But sometimes I know when I just need to escape.
Martin and the fantastical hat.
I met Martin on one of my first nights back in Chiang Mai. He was wearing a hat that he’d bought in Bangkok, a baseball-style cap covered in sequined elephants. One that on most people would probably look ridiculous, but he kind of rocked it.
We went to the Saturday market in hopes of finding me a similar one, so we could match, so we could be sparkle twins. We never ended up finding one, but I fell in love with a kitten-ear headband instead anyways.
It fit me better anyhow.
You smile like a Thai.
“You smile like a Thai.” That’s what Peapod had said to me at the hostel bar. I was just chilling around, thinking I had a quiet night ahead when he and two of the Thai’s who worked at the attached tattoo studio came in. We talked for a bit, he tried on my kitty headband.
And then I noticed his tattoo. I looked closely and when he saw me staring he moved his arm so I could get a better view.
He had the University of Illinois’s chief Illiniwek logo tattooed on his arm.
I was dumbfounded.
I’m still not sure why he had this particular tattoo. The music had been loud and his English choppy, so I wasn’t sure what he was saying when he tried to explain it to me. But I was impressed all the same. It’s not often you run into something with your alma mater’s symbol tattooed on them. Especially a foreigner.
Then he told me that I smiled like a Thai. That they were happy people, smiled a lot. Big smiles. It’s true too, the people in Thailand are some of the friendliest I’ve met. It’s true too, I’ve been smiling a lot lately. It’s hard not to be happy sometimes.
Peapod then invited me to come with him to a birthday party at a bar, so I hopped no the back of his motorcycle, and off we went. Perhaps I shouldn’t get on the back of a motorcycle with someone I’ve just met. But, sometimes, you can tell.
It ended up being a fun night, talking to locals and expats, drinking Sang Som. Dancing to 80s music…
Touch me, it’s so easy to leave me.
One of my first questions when I arrived back at my hostel was, “where’s Starfish?” Starfish was a cat that had been coming back to the hostel daily and hanging around the last time I was there. I loved him.
Unfortunately, Starfish stopped coming and no one was sure what had happened, but they didn’t have high hopes.
There was a new kitten, though. A little orange one. And I fell in love. Again.
I guess there are as many kittens to fall in love with in Thailand as there are men.
We played together a few times as he hung out at the bar. But one of the guys who worked at the hostel took him in to take care of.
Then one day, yet another kitten turned up. This one a little gray one who was terribly timid and shy, but started to open up and play with me a bit.
The guys at the hostel asked me if I wanted to take him to my room to keep with me and take care of. He was a baby and needed someone to take care of him.
Ummm…yes, yes I would.
Unfortunately I had to say no, because I was staying in a dorm room, and it would have been unfair to my roommates to bring in a constantly meowing little guy.
But I could have had a kitty all my own.
Of course, then I probably really would have never left.
A home away from home.
It was hard leaving Chiang Mai. It got comfortable. I had friends there. I could have had a cat.
When I walked down the street to get an iced latte at a nearby shop the woman at the counter said “you usually get it hot.”
It was becoming a home away from home. Somewhere where I could just be.
But, it was time. For now.
When I told the woman at the front desk the day I was leaving she said “are you sure?” I told her I was sure. I had a flight booked.
When the owner came by as I waited for a ride to the airport she asked me if I wanted a coffee. “It’s free for you,” she said, “you stay here long time.”
I didn’t necessarily want to leave. But I was getting too comfortable there. And there is still so much left of the world to see. I had to start traveling again.
But I will be back before I go home.
I will be back.
Sean and Jenny practicing her Muay Thai boxing moves.