The Easy Street of Chiang Mai
Collectively i’ve spent years wandering through India, a place that never stops swirling itself up around you in muddy waves of worry and wisdom, a place that tears you open mercilessly and teaches you to lick the wounds, wrap them up in dirty gauze and then keep moving on… because she doesnt wait, she moves at her own unpredictable rhythm, and she doesn’t have the space to hold you.
After spending so much time living and traveling through one of the most difficult countries in the world, I had low expectations for Thailand, naturally. I expected to be exhausted, sick, frustrated and lost. I expected a challenge to my agility and ability to survive. I expected the inevitable welling up of tears at the sight of stray dogs and begging children.
I have not felt any of those things. I have not seen any of those things.
In fact - i’ve felt amazing. I’ve spent the days walking through the city, sipping on the most delicious smoothies i’ve ever had, eating incredibly healthy and freshly prepared meals, sitting in hipster cafes (The Art Roastery in particular) and meeting amazing people from all around the world that have settled here into the culture of digital nomads, a settling of which i've come to envy. My hostel (Yuan Hostel) has come to feel like home and I would highly recommend it to anybody that visits here (especially anyone with a love for bikes as Kaito is the owner and he let me ride his Ducati Monster 1100s…). It is clean, affordable and within the prime location of Nimman. The streets are dabbled with some of the most well designed cafes i've ever seen (the young Thais are incredibly talented artists and designers) and they offer high quality brews of local beans and tea leaves. Sidewalks and doorsteps are warmed with friendly, sun-bathing cats and Mountains of tea lay just North of the city in the beautiful country of Chiang Rai where Elephants sleep in loving homes and the mist hugs the mornings. The motorcycle scene is vibrant with a plethora of moto inspired cafes, custom shops, and bars utilizing unique and retro builds for decor. The food is a never-ending menu of fresh alchemy and spices and most importantly the kindness of the people is reminiscent of the Nepalese.
And the birds sing beautiful songs in the morning.
Everything is easy here.
It’s almost too good to be true, honestly. The only real downfall (and i’ll be honest, its a big one) is that it has the second highest rate for foreigner death in the world due to traffic accidents. For a girl obsessed with seeing the world on two wheels, thats a little difficult to swallow, but i’ll take my chances here because the edge is always where life flourishes.
Alas, I am supposed to leave Chiang Mai for Varanasi, India in one week. Varanasi is the city that unveiled to me the faces of my own Godheads. It is the city that captivated me with burning bodies, cannibalism, and the simultaneous prayers of millions of people on the banks of the Ganges River.
Varanasi is the place where my spirit cracked through my callouses and softened me to surrender.
It is also the city that sexually assaulted me more than any other city. Its the city that infected my stomach so badly I laid in bed motionless for days, whimpering. Its the city that broke me… in so many ways.
The transition from Chiang mai to Varanasi is sure to be shocking, overwhelming and bittersweet. A huge part of me has considered staying behind and letting my Holy City be a place for a future version of myself...
But I think i’m just nervous to return because I know the darkness and trials that await me there.
As much as I love Chiang Mai, it simply doesn't stimulate me in the way that I am seeking. I embarked on this journey with a limping collection of wounds that needed some healing and some emotional weight that needed to be released.
I think I need the fierceness of India and the heavy water of the Ganga to help me do that.
But Chiang Mai will be there when I need a soft place to fall.