Ciao Ciao Chiang Mai

Trip Start Jul 20, 2006
Trip End May 10, 2007

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Friday, February 23, 2007

You may have noticed that the title of my travelogue changed from "World Partners Fellowship" to "From World Partner to Wanderlust Associate" well that's because i'm leaving Chiang Mai next week. My fellowship is not over, but I am over Chiang Mai.

Oh Thailand. I cannot believe I've lived here for 7 months and tonight is my going away party. I have that same slightly nauseous feeling waving over my body that I felt at my welcome party. But this time, I'm asking for the food to be extra spicy instead of bland and I can ask in Thai.
I've resorted to using the Thai fix-it-all yellow oil for everything from insect bites to headaches and I even have a menthol thingy to cure my "vertigo" hanging out of my nose half the time. What can I say? I like to sniff Thai herbs, just like the Thais. How Thai have I become? 
I find the black sea of ants crawling up the wall of the bathroom at work endearing and the fact that I have to manually flush a quicker way to wash my hands and more water efficient. I enjoy spraying my arse clean with a water hose rather than rubbing it with toilet paper. And, my legs are in great shape from squatting to pee and I never once went to the gym.
 I love eating dinner for 50 cents from a street vendor who washes the dishes mid-traffic next to the motorbike with black smoke spewing out the muffler. I'd rather eat hot boiled rice soup for breakfast than Cornflakes. I wonder where else I will find fresh cut tropical fruit and fresh squeezed orange juice for 10 THB?
I enjoy waking up to the sound of the crows, the singing of the birds, and the bells from the temple echoing through the mountains. I like that at the end of the day I have to scrub my feet raw because I've walked around barefoot in the office all day.
I prefer the disorganized chaotic confusion of Thailand to the neat, clean, and orderly lifestyle back home. I don't see why our children need car seats in mini-vans while here they seem to do just fine in the arms of their mother on the back of a motorbike.
 I still have not experienced a Thai man and still have not found where they sell "Asian goggels." I continue to cringe at the sight of a hot young Thai woman with a sleazy white sexpat (not an expatriate, but a sexpatriate), I will never get over it. Thailand is a meat market for white men and a baron desert from white women. I'd live here much longer, but seeing as one day I'd like to find love, get married, and have 2.5 children, I have to get out of Thailand. Perhaps when I'm 50, divorced and rich I'll return like all the white men here do.
 I've lived with hill tribes, hung out with corn farmers, drank whisky with fisherman, cultivated rice in the fields, hiked through Asian jungles, and danced with fair trade prostitutes.
I've lived through Giardia - that's diarrhea for two months folks and a motorbike accident that left me 6 feet to the left of my bike spinning through traffic during rush hour. I walked away with a scratch on my foot - but you should have seen the other girl, it was her fault anyhow, she hit me.
I've chanted in a prayer hall filled with monks, I've meditated with hippies named Rainbow, and done yoga with true Indian yogis. I've stood atop waterfalls overlooking untouched valleys and hills, swam in fresh water the color of toothpaste, and bathed in sulfuric hot springs.
I've celebrated New Years 5 times in 7 months: Rosh Hashana, Hmong New Years, Traditional New Years, Chinese New Years and Thai New Years (forthcoming April 15th). Always a good excuse to drink!
I've been through monsoon season, dry season, winter and hot season is now here, f*uck it's hot and humid. And, man I've been here a long time. Wait while I pinch myself, ouch... I still have to remind myself that I am living on the other side of the world and I'm alive to talk about it.
I've been fortunate to be a part of an amazing chumchon. Chumchon is Thai for community and it is the most beautiful thing I can take away from having been a part of this community of NGO's in Northern Thailand. I fondly recall winter nights around the fire with the girls singing old anti-communist songs, cooking western food for our Thai friends, sharing my Jewish heritage over potato latkes, listening to Manop strum his guitar and singing traditional Karen tunes, being invited to celebrate marriages and attending house warming parties and learning to cook Thai food in the comfort of a Thai home. Breaking all molds and celebrating Thanksgiving minus the china and crystal, Christmas minus the tree, eggnog, and family and Hanukkah minus the menorah, but, having been included in the celebrations of this chumchon I've been blessed to find in Thailand.
So, what now? The one question everyone loves to ask and the one question I hate to answer. Do I have to have an answer for what my future holds? Do any of us truly know what our future holds? No, not really, so stop asking me people. I have no Germaine Greer said "the essence of pleasure is spontaneity," and I believe him, whoever he is.
My best friend Alex said to me the other day, "you can't go on traveling forever, you know you have to come back and settle down sooner or later." F*ck that. Why? I live in more of a real world than half the people I know running around Hollywood pretending to be living their lives.  So many people preach about living in the moment but no one really does it, I am doing it.

I know this much, my dear friend Monica arrives tomorrow morning to bring a little western back into my world. One week later my newly engaged best friend Jenny arrives with one of our closest friends Limor and we'll travel with them for 10 days and afterwards Monica and I will forge forward into the unknown.

I am about to dive into the wonderful world of wanderlust on $25/day and no plan for an unknown amount of time, all the while it turns out that those Texans will have the chance to follow along with my adventures as my blog will officially be published beginning on March 4th. Hmm, censorship's a bitch but it looks like this  super Liberal Prada hippie will have to learn to hold her tongue.
So, I'm packing my bags (and I have a lot more than I started with) and I'm moving South. Where to you ask? This mountain girl needs to get back to her beach roots.  So, stay tuned as I travel South, these blogs can only get better.
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