Woah! It’s been a whirlwind. I haven’t slept in one place for more than two nights in a week. If I’m keeping track properly, I think my sleeping schedule has been something like: last night in the Dominican Republic – NYC – NYC – 27hrs of airplanes/airports – Bangkok hostel – sleeper train – Chiang Mai hostel.
Door to door: Brooklyn to Bangkok.
Phew. I’m finally settling in. This whole solo-travel-where-I-don’t-speak-the-language thing has been a heavy weight on my shoulders the past few weeks. I’ve been terribly nervous. My first two days in Bangkok I felt self conscious, unsure, and nervous. I got ripped off by a taxi driver on my first excursion outside the airport because I couldn’t bear to stand up for myself when he named a high, unmetered price.
I got into Bangkok at 7am on Tuesday, so I walked around all day, but turned into a zombie after a while and accidentally fell asleep after I laid down in my hostel before dinner.
The next day, I met two younger travelers, Maddie and Millie, and traveled with them. They were taking a gap year between high school and university. They were at the tail end of their trip, wrapping up 3 months of travel. They walked around with ease, walked away from the canal ticket salesperson charging 100 baht and found the local selling tickets for 9 baht. Watching them have such a handle on things encouraged me to pull myself together and at least pretend to know what I’m doing.
Riding around the canals in Bangkok.
After spending two days in New York and two days in Bangkok, I couldn’t stand another moment in a city. I was so excited to get on a train and head towards some mountains. The hectic nature of Bangkok forced me to get my wits about me. After two days I felt I had a bit of my confidence back.
When I left for the train station, I even turned down a tuk-tuk driver who wouldn’t lower his price and caught a motorbike taxi for half the cost! An exhilarating, fume-filled, and heavy mode of transport that eliminates traffic at the apparent expense of personal safety, weaving between lanes, holding onto the driver with a 30lb pack on. Sorry Mom.
The sleeper train was so cool, and I was sitting with a few other travelers. We chatted for an hour, and then they put the beds down at 8 and we all tucked in for the night – 13 hours to Chiang Mai.
Ellie is psyched to sleep for the next 12 hours! Though sleep might be a strong word…
I arrived in Chiang Mai this morning and walked all around the city, exploring temples, monuments and museums.
It’s so beautiful here – and we’re in the foothills of the Himalayas no less!
A sunrise view from the train. Jet lag is good for something!
A proper Thai breakfast.
The dragons are outside to guard the temples.
Every temple looks a little different. The Buddha’s always have a slight smile though.
A 3D map of Chiang Mai and all of the different wats (temples).
There are bells hanging all over the temples and they fill the air with a beautiful twinkling sound.
Note the sign and the kitten.
One of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai.
We had the pleasure of listening to the monks and novices chant.
Some furry friends joined the chanting.