The last week of Thailand was so packed with friends and adventures that I never took the time to write about those last amazing moments. I also intentionality wanted to take that time to be alone, to not check my e-mails and to just sit with my friends in a foreign country, before I had to step back into the “real world”. We were all anxious about that moment, when we had to start working and paying bills and being ourselves again back home. In Thailand, we were perpetually vacationing, with no worries, really.
After a night of Muay Thai Boxing in Phuket, I flew solo to Chiang Mai. I bid my Canadian friends farewell at the Backpackers Hostel, where we slept in a 10 bed room, 200 bt/night. That was probably the best place we stayed; air conditioner, TV with DVDs, internet, laundry, and close to all the action. I headed to the airport, where I saw them again, and said goodbye, again. Writer Canadian was heading back home, but Canadian Buddy was headed to Chiang Mai so we figured we might end up seeing each other there. I flew to Bangkok then took a taxi to the bus station, slept there for a while, then took a bus to Chiang Mai.
Once in Chiang Mai I headed to Julie’s Guest House with two young English girls that I had met on the bus. We were early, so we napped in the lobby until the reception desk opened. While waiting, my Koh Tao Ferry English friends showed up, this time with a large group of Brits who quickly became my friends. Later that day Canadian Buddy walked around the corner, he was bunking at the guest house next door, and introduced me to Aussie Dude. There were two girls from California even. The group of us was huge. I really bonded with two young women from England, “N” and “M”…and we just fell in love with each other. We had great girls nights out dancing, before the curfew was set in place. One night the three of us had an adventure after the Sunday market with a tobacco pipe and Ronald McDonald. The next night, about six of us girls went out dancing. The fun never ended. And the shopping in Chiang Mai was amazing. There was a night bazaar on Saturday and the Sunday market was incredible, it literally went for miles. I stayed at Julie’s Guest House in a two bed room until my Travel Buddies met me in Chiang Mai on Tuesday. Everyone welcomed them, some friends they already knew, and some were new. But my friends N and M fell in love with Travel Buddies too, and were just a happy group of gals. “M” especially, she became the fourth wheel in our three wheel show. The four of us spent the rest of that week together, up until we had to part ways in Bangkok. Most of us ended up moving next door from Julie’s. It was a little more money, but cleaner and cooler. The political issues with the Red Shirts were migrating from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, so eventually a curfew was set in place. We didn’t mind. We ended up staying up all night on the balcony drinking and playing cards.
There was tons to do and see in Chiang Mai. Aussie Dude joined the three of us on a “Night Safari”, which was basically a zoo tour at night. Canadian Buddy and Aussie Dude went with Travel Buddy 1 and me to a cooking class where we made pad thai and papaya salad. I headed to Pai for a night with the other three girls, where we just palled around, and ran into some other friends from the guest house. I headed back one night earlier so that I could do the zip-line adventure. That was fun! I rode zip-lines over the jungle in Chiang Mai, well worth the trip back, but I did miss a fun night out in Pai with new and old friends there. Rock climbing friends from Tonsai even showed up in Chiang Mai. Everyone seemed to either stay at Julies or next door. Most people started at Julies because it was cheap and popular, but eventually figured that the place next door was cleaner and with better fans. Chiang Mai was the finale, literally. It was like anyone who was still in Thailand went to Chiang Mai that week. One night the curfew was lifted and we all went out dancing. While out dancing I even ran into Pool Table buddies, who I hadn’t seen since Phi Phi.
Because two of our friends ended up with Dungai Fever we spent a lot of time at the hospital in Chiang Mai as well. It became obvious that we had built some sort of family out of the people we were traveling with and the friends we met along the way. Their week in Chiang Mai wasn’t as memorable as mine, I’m sure, but they knew they were loved, and that had to mean something, being in a foreign country away from their loved ones.
Eventually, it was time to say good bye, and over the last two days everyone started dispersing. Some were headed home, some just out of Thailand; India, Laos, Australia. The four of us girls took a train back to Bangkok with our Koh Tao English friends. The six of us played cards and reminisced and shared our anxieties about leaving one another and going home. A little more shopping was done in Bangkok, and then the three of us said our final good byes to M and got on the plane.
The adventure was over. “Are the three of you together? Well, welcome home” We held hands as we walked back in to the United States of America…