As the dust settles…

I’ve traded back and shoulder pains for calf knots. With every step, my calfs scream at me as I wander for miles around town almost every night, but as painful as it is, it is just as rewarding. Plus there’s always a Thai masseuse yelling at you from across the street to come sit for a massage. At three dollars an hour, it’s quite hard to justify not walking your legs to anguish.  The funny thing is that these pains came when I decided to rest my bags in Chiang Mai for six weeks, catching up with work, sleep, preparing for Songkran the Thai New Year’s water festival, and most importantly trying to process everything that has happened since I flew into Phuket.
I began traveling Thailand five weeks ago, landing in Phuket airport and immediately heading to Surin Beach. There, I was thrown in with a wild bunch of amazing people from all over the world, all ready to cut loose for our friends’ Yui and Richard’s wedding. They got married on Surin Beach at sunset, surrounded by friends, tropics, fireworks, traditional Thai sky-lanturns and an unexpended storm that added more to the experience than it dampened the mood.
A few friends joined me from California to travel
Thailand, either during the wedding or shortly after. The momentum only gained as we traveled away from Puket with Chiang Mai as our destination, experiencing lightning storms in the water at Koh Lanta, seclusion at Koh Muk, rock climbing at Railay, a smorgasbord of interesting experiences in Bangkok, monkey invasions at Lop Buri, a different life at Phitsannulok (Pizza-Noodle), and ending in my favorite part of Thailand: the hub of northern flavors such as khao soy, eclectic spice, elephant love, hill tribe refugees and a slower and more friendly pace of life.

As my friends departed a week ago, I settled in for the long haul.  Chiang Mai is a cooler climate and one of the cheaper parts of Thailand.  Usually dubbed one of the top favorite places for tourists, the population of Thais are around 175,000 and the number of expats and backpackers can probably push it past 200,000 at any given time. Expecting a quiet place to catch up with photos and videos, I’ve found that unless you use headphones, most likely someone will invite you over to their table or invite themselves over to yours.  From my experience, I gauge it as the slower, more artistic and happier of the larger cities in Thailand.  The San Francisco of California, but without all the money or trends.

Laos and Myanmar are waiting for me only a bus ride away, but I feel that they can wait for a time.  Yesterday was the first day of summer here, which is not a welcome feeling for the Thais.  The heat mixes with the smoke from the burning fields (best fertilizer there is) and from others’ stories, soon after the water festival will be a great time to move further up north.  Until then, I will be posting regular entries, videos and photographs (or at least trying- even a city this large has a lot of internet problems!)
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