After a day in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and when I had parted ways with my single-serving roommates, Justine and Michael, I was alone again.
Lost in Translation and Confusing Sois: Never Getting To Where I’m Going
I had seen a post on a free yoga class at some studio at 10am that morning, which was a way away from the first guesthouse I stayed at with my Belgian friends, so I figured I’d take a stroll over, get to know the city a bit more, and find a cheaper guesthouse / dorm to stay at.
It took me an hour to find it, rendering me 30 minutes late, and when I got there, the class was apparently cancelled. Great.
So I tried to catch another yoga class in another studio at 12noon, and as my luck would have it, I got lost again, confused by the street (soi) name system, and I was 30 minutes late again. I had a pleasant chat with the owner though, and going over to the area helped me find my current residence Mint House where I pay 100THB/night — 133PHP/night — for my dorm room (to be blogged about in another post).
The Onset of “Loneliness”
That day wasn’t so good for me because when I had parted ways with Justine and was constantly not getting to where I intended to go, I was discouraged. Compound that with my indecision to stay in Chiang Mai longer or head over to Pai, and no longer having a Hanne to travel with.
I realize now that the stress I was feeling at that time was really brought about by the overwhelming pressure to SEE things and DO stuff, as if BEING here wasn’t enough. Not knowing how long I’d be staying in Chiang Mai (and feeling the pressure of my short 2-week overland visa) made me feel like I had to “accomplish” things ASAP.
Being In The Now: Monk Chat & Meditation with Tiko at Wat Sri Gerd
Fortunately, in my rough plans for the day, I had scribbled down a 3pm monk chat at Wat Sri Gerd, not far from Mint House, so I headed over there, had a cheap 25THB vegetarian meal across the Wat (but I probably shouldn’t have done that right before meditation), and hurrah, arrived on time this time.
There I met Tiko, probably one of the most amusing monks you’ll meet. He shatters preconceived notions of a monk, in a good way. Being with him for 3 hours, along with other travelers, and listening to him share his experiences with meditation and monkhood, and having maybe an hour’s worth of meditation, was really what I needed to bring me back to the ground, and remind me of my preference for slow travel.
I am not familiar with G.K. Chesterton’s work, but I stumbled upon a quotation that is enough to make me respect him without having to go through a novel’s worth of words.
“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
After leaving Wat Sri Gerd, I had a calmer, less frantic state of mind, and I had decided that I would stay in Chiang Mai a bit longer. And as with Hariharalaya, my decisions to stay somewhere just a little bit longer instead of rushing off to the next destination or feel pressured to see the next “great sight” a.k.a. touristy thing have paid off so far.
I’ve made some friends, chatted with more monks, and I’m just happy hanging around without much of a plan or a to-do list to cross things off of and just going with flow, playing things by ear, and simply appreciating the surprises, big and small, that I come across in my solitary wandering.
My mind is still murky, though not as muddy as it used to be, and I find that I am getting clearer and clearer about the things I want to do, or rather, the things I don’t want to do, or how I don’t want to live my life, or what I don’t want to make decisions based on.
That night, upon getting back to Mint House, I dropped a bomb, a metaphorical case of Hiroshima, that has been a long time coming and will drastically change the course of my future. I don’t want to say much else now, until it becomes more formal, suffice it to say that I made a decision that the general public will probably be baffled by, but something my closest friends and loved ones know has been in the recesses of my heart for a while now.
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