. These people that I continue to meet who are true long-term travelers, are some of the most intelligent, most cultured, and logically sound people I that I know. Their concept and understanding of the true nature of the world far surpasses that of anyone I have ever met. I have come to the understanding that a person can spend years in a classroom and months with their nose in a book, but a person will not truly grasp the nature of reality until they have traveled the world and seen it from an objective point of view. Americans, particularly, need to pop the bubble that they live in, and travel to other countries. That doesn't mean just traveling to a resort for a weekend, or studying abroad for a few months, but experience true culture and different lifestyles. It is commonly stated that if we want to have any control over our future, we must understand our past. However the saying neglects to point out that we must also truly come to terms with the present.
This internet cafe closes in 20 minutes, so I will try to sum up the last few weeks as quickly as possible. After I left Chaiya, I took a train to Bangkok. It was a 14 hour sleeper train and I had a choice between 2nd and 3rd class. The difference of price was significant, 3rd class being only a third of the cost of 2nd. I naturally took the more economic option. It turned out to be quite an interesting experience. While passengers in 2nd class are given a bed, air-conditioning, and a very comfortable area to sleep and enjoy the ride, those in 3rd class are treated quite differently
. First off, I was the only foreigner in the train, everyone else appeared to be Thai working class. The train was set up like a sardine can, with uncomfortable wooden benches lined up with as little space as possible, and with more passengers than seats. There was simply no room to put my feet on the floor and no possible way I could lean anywhere to sleep. I spent the next hour experimenting with different positions trying to figure out a way that I could sleep away the situation. I had no luck, I sat and truly pondered different, somewhat strange, positions that I could attempt. By the time I gave up, the other passengers started to find their sleeping positions. Rather than staying in their seats and finding a position to sleep in, the other passengers simply found places on the floor in the midst of trash, filth, and bugs. There was no other way out of my predicament. I grabbed my traveler guide, plopped it down in the middle of the narrow aisle to serve as my pillow, and laid down. I had Thai feet poking at me from every direction as people slept. When I looked to my left I saw 3 pairs of feet all hanging dangerously close to my face, to my right I saw several more pairs of feet, and a spider slowly crawl onto the head and out of my sight of a poor sleeping Thai child. I got woken up several times through-out the night, either by a foot softly poking my face, or by a passenger needing to get by on the way to the bathroom. It sounds like an uncomfortable situation, but after ten days sleeping with a wooden pillow on a wooden mattress, I was used to it, and for $5, I couldn't complain
. The next day I spent in Bangkok, spectating the political situation and getting some major shopping out of the way, I left Bangkok that night on another 13 hour sleeper train to Chiang Mai... This time I opted for the luxury of 2nd class, I deserved a good sleep.
I arrived in Chiang Mai the next morning. The town was packed. This day marked the first day of the Thai new year, Songkran, which is celebrated by a massive water war, in which every person takes part. After some difficulty finding a guest house to stash my stuff, I met with a good friend that I made in Tonsai. She knew I was coming and found a cheap guest house with 2 beds, $3 a night. The city of Chiang Mai is surrounded by a dirty moat, which provided an unlimited supply of water to fill up buckets and water guns. It was a lot of fun, and well-deserved after the last 2 weeks. After Songkran ended, my two week course at the International school for Thai Massage began. The next two weeks were mostly uneventful, as I was focused on my training. During the weekends I drove 40 minutes away with a few friends to go climbing, and on Sundays, I explored the massive Sunday Market, filled with miles of art, handicrafts, and delicious Thai delicacies. After the massage course finally ended, I took the cooking course, and took the weaving course. I can now make a piece of jewelry in under 20 minutes at a cost of a fraction of a penny, I can sell it for an average of $5 depending on the difficulty of the weaving technique and the quality of the stones. After the course I took a bus to Pai, a small town on the northern tip of Thailand, surrounded by rivers, waterfalls and jungle. It was a welcome relief to be back in the fresh air, and Pai was a lot of fun. Thailand has three seasons, the hot season, the hot wet season, and the slightly less hot season. Unfortunately, Pai wasn't quite as spectacular as it is during most months as Thailand is currently at the very end of its hot, dry season and the river is completely dried up. I would have liked to spend more than 2 days there, but my traveling partner's visa was about to expire, and we were both ready to head to Laos.
I just arrived back in Chiang Mai and I plan on catching a bus that leaves at dawn to the Laos border. My time in Thailand has been absolutely incredible, the learning experiences that I have absorbed are invaluable. My experience cannot truly be described or explained, but one thing is certain. My life will never be the same, it has reached new, incredible heights and I will remain in this mental state for the rest of my life
It has been quite some time since I wrote my last blog, I have been so busy learning and studying in the past three weeks. Since my arrival in Chiang Mai, I am now a certified Thai Massage Therapist, I can cook over 10 Thai dishes from scratch, and I can create all sorts of jewelry in the form of bracelets, anklets, and necklaces. All of these new skills I learned for my own personal enrichment, however all of these skills, except cooking perhaps, I will be able to use to help fund my travels as I go. As incredible as the experience has been, living in a city in the past three weeks has not been easy for me after living for so long in the jungle. The constant noise, the cars, the pollution; it wasn't easy. To offset life in the "big" city (tiny by any western standards), I have met some incredible people. One, who is currently my traveling partner, is just about to finish up her travels and go back to Canada after 6.5 years, working along the way. It is inspiring to meet people who are ending the adventure that I am just beginning. Another UK couple have been traveling for years across the world in their camper van, another striking example of the possibility of such a lifestyle