I spent 5 days in Bangkok and loved every minute of it. From the Monks walking around with their Mobile Phones to the cheap and tasty street food, it was a pleasant assault on the senses with so much going on. I visited Temples, meditated, walked around barefoot and made prayers and offering’s to Buddha
. Entering Temples in Thailand, it’s difficult not to want to join in with the local traditions and culture. It was really nice to sit in a Temple, eyes closed and spend time just being quiet and giving thanks to all the many good things in my life; I left feeling so peaceful and content. As well as the main tourist attractions, a friend recommended I go to the Museum of Forensic Science and being attracted to gore I decided to give it a go. Jumping on the back of a motorbike Taxi, I was transported through the streets of Bangkok and I’ve got to say it was better than any pre-booked city tour you can buy! Clinging on tight with the wind blowing through my hair, the driver navigated the heavy traffic with ease, zigzagging between cars and Tuk Tuk’s in one of the most hair raising rides of my life – I loved it! The Museum was unlike anything I’ve seen at home. It was full of body parts in jars and even the mummified remains of two prisoners that had been sentenced to death after being convicted of Rape and Murder – gruesome but interesting. The next few days were spent sight-seeing, including taking a river boat taxi around town, eating delicious food in China Town, seeing the Bridge over the River Kwai, riding an Elephant and visiting the Tiger Temple where after being asked to walk a Tiger back to its pen on its lead, it proceeded to piss on my foot! Thanks for that…..
After much deliberation, I decided to head North to Chiang Mai for Christmas and booked in to Deejai Backpackers in the Old Town
. I had literally been in my hostel 10 minutes after travelling 15 hours on the train and was invited out into town. Dumping my pack I headed out and it wasn’t long before I had a few beers down me and was belting out Christmas songs on the Karaoke! It was the first time since being away that it felt like Christmas and I actually began to look forward to it. Waking up feeling worse for wear the next day, I headed out in search of a massage to try and ease my weary body. I’d heard about a rehabilitation programme at the local Women’s prison where inmates due for release would be trained to be Masseurs. I decided to give it a go and once in my trendy purple PJ’s they’d given me, I lay down and closed my eyes ready to have a relaxing massage - Only “relax” would not necessarily be the choice of word I’d use in hindsight – “beaten” would be more appropriate. This Woman whom I towered over (bearing in mind I’m a midget) punched, kicked and slapped me before bending my body in way’s a contortionist would be proud of. Wrapping my legs around her waist and twisting me round, I thought I’d wandered into the Wrestling academy and even contemplated “tapping out” on the mat WWE style. All said and done though, it was a brilliant massage and as I left the Prison, I walked down the street with a stupid grin on my face with “just been dragged out of a hedge” hair feeling great.
I had noticed that here was a Temple just outside of town called “Wat U Mong” and after my initial giggle (people back home will understand this better) I decided to hire a scooter Christmas Eve and head there. Two guys from the Hostel decided to join me and we set off down the road in heavy traffic. I only made it round the corner though before I was cut up by another scooter as I made the turn. Braking hard, I ended up over turning in the middle of the road! The phrase “What A Mong” now rang in my ears instead as I picked myself up and limped away, pretending I hadn’t hurt myself whilst fighting the urge to cry like a 3 year old! Needless to say I took the bike back and jumped on the back of one of the other Bikes instead, dented pride
Christmas day was soon upon us and everyone in the Hostel was in the same boat – away from their loved ones and in a foreign country surrounded by strangers. But instead of feeling sad,
we pulled together and made the most of it
. Laughing and joking, telling stories and reporting how their families were doing as we each made Skype calls in differentiating time zones. We had a party with live music and great food provided by the local restaurant owner and as we set of Lantern's into the sky at midnight I felt content to be here (and even a little grateful as at least I got out of playing Monopoly)!! Moving on a couple of days later, I spent New Year’s In Pai, a cool hippy town 3 hours West of Chiang Mai before going to a farm in a local village called the Happy Healing Home…….
Following the directions I’d been emailed, I took a Tuk Tuk to the Warawat market in Chiang Mai and was greeted by a hoard of yellow “buses” that to me resembled the converted ambulance in
the Ghostbusters films. I asked which one was heading to Pang Turm Village but was greeted with blank stares and confused frowns. After several attempts to find the right bus with no luck, I sat down on my backpack and wondered whether this was a wind up. A few minutes passed before an old man approached me and happily told me he’d take me to the Village and had been waiting for me. Bewildered I went with him, not even knowing how long the journey was going to take me, and sat in the back of the bus for 3 and a half hours, picking up multiple sacks of
rice and baskets of unknown produce on the way
. I was eventually dropped off in the middle of nowhere and told to walk down a path towards the forest. Echoes of my dodgy volunteer experience in Kenya entered my mind as I wandered down the isolated path and as I turned the corner I heard someone shout “Welcome Pee Naan Lorna”. Being pulled into a warm embrace usually saved for those closest to you, I realised it was my host Jim who then led me to the house. I was pleased to see a group of travellers already there and was made to feel very welcome. They explained that everyone was called Pee Naan there which meant Brother/Sister and was shown around this amazing and beautiful farm In the Thai countryside.
In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I made friends with a girl called Jess I Met in Kenya who I played several practical jokes on. Well, when she first joined the overland truck I told her jokingly that we regularly bought a live chicken that we would kill and eat and as she was the newest person on the truck she had the honour of completing this task. Well, Karma sometimes bites you in the arse as on my first night at the farm, I was informed that this was what was going to happen. A chicken was selected and as a group, we hung it before cutting its throat to bleed it then plucked it
. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be and to be honest it was good to actually eat chicken so fresh. That evening we were all sat by the fire when someone offered me “Wood Tea”. It was passed around and I couldn’t help but giggle to myself as the words “Cult” and “Waco” rang through my brain as I drank the strange brew.
All the food we ate at the farm was grown there and part of our job was to collect plants and herbs from the garden to cook with. There was always something new to do such as building
bamboo huts, collecting firewood from the forest and learning how to prepare traditional Thai/Lanna food. As well as the physical work, there was also a focus on meditation and we would spend 20 minutes each night as a group meditating. I have spent time practicing meditation on and off for years and it felt good to be able to spend time doing it again. One day when we were walking in the Forest I came across a clearing that was surrounded by Bamboo next to a stream. The sunlight here filtered through the tree’s creating a hazy picturesque environment with only the sounds of nature audible. I liked the place so much I decided to go there the next day to meditate
. I spent an hour sat cross legged in the middle of the forest and when I sat up I felt wonderful. Standing up, wearing my long hippy skirt I began to twirl around
like you did as a kid and fell down on the floor laughing like an idiot, feeling truly happy. Call me a hippy, I don’t care – I’ll even admit to wearing socks with my sandals on the cold evenings (although I refused to have hairy armpits!). To experience a moment of true happiness and contentment that wasn’t inspired by anything except for sitting quietly in a Forest – I’ll take that
All too soon it was time to leave this peaceful community and head back to Chiang Mai. My 30 day Visa is due to expire so I’m heading into Laos in the next day or two. I’ve loved Thailand and
I’ll be back at some point in the future I’m sure………………………………..
Arriving at Bangkok Airport, the sadness I felt when leaving Kenya melted away and was replaced by excitement.Needing to get to my Hostel I shunned the taxis and decided to make my own way. Heading for the Skytrain I was easily able to navigate the rail system and change to the underground in order to get to there. Costing me £1 in total rather than £20 in a taxi, my mission to be a cheap skate whilst travelling in South East Asia had begun!