Chiang Mai, take two (and an unexpected trip back to stormy Sukothai)

6am is the new 8am.I regularly wake up at this time; no alarm required. In fact, when the alarm goes off an hour and a half after I have woken up, I feel pleased and productive.

While the others slept I finished my book whilst sitting on a step next to a cat facing the car park. In the morning it is not too hot, it is best to make the most of this time. Chiang Mai is pretty far away from where I live in Thailand: 475km in fact. I knew that I had to plan my transport precisely so with a little help from an Internet café around the corner I found out train and bus times. I was surprised that at 7am on a Tuesday morning the Internet café was full of children (about 10-14 year olds) playing video games.

After feeding the others croissants for a quick and easy breakfast we went on a fairly epic walk to the riverside. En route we passed by an incredible bookshop called ‘Gecko Books’ which sells thousands of used books in European languages, including a fair few classics. I managed to pick up ‘The English Patient’ by Michael Ondaatje and also ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf for about £3 in total: not bad really.

For lunch, after being pointed in various (and opposite) directions by different Thai people we found ourselves at an open fronted vegetarian restaurant. Here, rather than every person having their own dish, a selection of different dishes are ordered and people just share and get a taste of everything. We got a vegetable soup, some noodles, pumpkin curry and rice. I particularly enjoyed the pumpkin and have seen it in the market before so will have to cook some for my housemates; a Mauritian specialty.

Lunch at the little vegetarian place.

Lunch at the little vegetarian place.

We got to the bus station about an hour before the bus was set to leave. I thought that this was pretty good form. ‘Full’, ‘Full’, ‘Full’; all of the buses to Sak Lek (which is about 6km from where I live) were packed for the rest of the day because it was a public holiday. Because of this I decided to get the bus back to Sukothai with the others and to get another bus from there to Phitsanulok. It was the only option as the trains wouldn’t arrive into Phichit (30 km from mine) until after midnight, and at this time I couldn’t expect for anyone to come and pick me up… or bear the thought of walking for 6 hours in my own on the dark.

En route to Sukothai I got a phone call from Frenelly, who I live with, asking how I would get home. Without going into too much detail the conversation revealed to me that it was impossible to get home that night; totally impossible. So, the only option was to miss half a day of work travelling back to Wang Sai Phun.

I read ‘The English Patient’ the whole way to Sukothai. As soon as the bus turned round the bend to Sukothai Historical Park we heard the thunder clatter and saw the darkness and the rain, fall like a blanket over the city. Occasionally the sky was lit purple by thunder and it is at times like these when I can see the rainy season is upon us. When we left the bus station, the three of us piling again onto Lek’s motorcycle, the rain wasn’t falling but the sky was sweating and ready to open up.

Stopping by 7 Eleven was perhaps not the best idea considering the weather, but we were hungry and did so anyway. It was here that I discovered Lek is terrified of frogs, there were many enjoying the rain, and I felt childishly amused by her fear (sorry!). The rain fell fast and heavy, unceasing. We waited for over an hour for it to die down a little, but when we left we still got totally drenched. My skin was cold and I felt it through to the bone. I think this may have taught me to carry an umbrella, but I still don’t have one. I saw that one of the neighbours had rigged an umbrella to their bike: see the photo.

Until next time! Image

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