On our second day in Chiang Mai Laura and I decided it was time to get out and do some sightseeing, but not along the normal tourist track, we wanted to take things into our own hands. Laura was brave and trusted me as her driver for her first motorbike experience. We rented a bike from our hostel (mistake since it was 50 baht cheaper down the street) and departed early(ish) for Doi Suthep. The main purpose of trekking up the hill was to see the impressive temple at the top, Wat Phra, one of the most visited sights in Chiang Mai. Songthaews will make the trip to the temple but with Laura's potential motion sickness and my hatred of anything organized we opted to do it on our own, and what a wise decision it was!
Before you get started do yourself a favor and read about my first and second days with these goons
On day three I was up early enough to catch the sun rising over the mountains directly in front of us. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful and peaceful morning and spent it doing yoga and daydreaming about this crazy life I've acquired. Laura was up soon after me and we sat drinking coffee (if you can call 3 in 1 mixes coffee) and talking. Chet came out with his gigantic smile and cheerful “goooooood morning” which was soon followed by another round of eggs, toast and candy spread.” Before leaving for our hike back to civilization we took a small walk through the village to get more of an idea as to what life is like here. Chet explained we should have done more of this the night before, but due to the rain and our tiredness, we didn’t get the chance. I met one man who spoke decent English and upon hearing I was from Milwaukee responded “oh famous basketball – the Bucks!” which of course left me laughing, I'm not sure I'd call them famous.
Continuation from Part 1 of my Jumbo Trekking Adventure:
Everyone was skeptical as to how well we would sleep, sharing one LARGE room with elephants, roosters, dogs and other wildlife as our neighbors. After a few months of travel I thought the conditions were fairly ideal, I had a bed, pillow, door that closed and most importantly (for me) it was nice and dark. I guess the other thing that helps is that I always come prepared for the elements of travel sleeping, my eye mask and ear plugs close at hand. I’m not sure who came up with the idea that roosters crow when the sun comes up because it’s not true, those retarded animals crow whenever the hell they want and 3am seems to be their favorite time. The earplugs were definitely used and I slipped my eye mask on as well when the skies began to lighten. I eventually gave up on sleep when the elephants started screaming (I’m not exactly sure how to describe it but it was loud)! Laura and I immediately broke into laughter but it appeared the rest of our roommates were unmoved by the noise.
I'm not sure what I may have done in this or a past life but somehow I have acquired the best luck when finding trekking tour guides. There was my first trek in Australia where the tour guides idea of "soon" were much much different than mine, not to mention getting lost and almost missing the bus home. Then there was the eight, turned 13 hour trek in Taiwan, although that one had bright turn of events. And now, my adventures continue in Northern Thailand; one more trek, another great story and one quirky guide I'll never forget.
After my month of paradise, new friends, and lots of yoga it was time for me to return to the hustle and bustle of the big city, Bangkok. I arrived a bit more rested than my previous train trip to the South and quickly found my way to my new hostel. It was early meaning our room wasn't ready, instead I took over the waiting area with all of my crap and waited for my friend Laura to join me. She was due to arrive on a 7am flight but thanks to a delay, all the transportation and maybe a quick wrong turn she arrived closer to 12 (just as I was beginning to kind of, get concerned)
It's kind of crazy to think back to the day that I first came across Vikasa yoga, from a Facebook add of all places, how long ago it was but short it seems. I actually never click on those things but for some reason the Vikasa add caught my eye and I decided to give the website a few minutes of my deskwarming time. Now, having completed the course I'm pretty happy about those few minutes I gave up. During a month on the island of Koh Samui I met some awesome people, did lots of yoga, climbed one million stairs, relaxed at the beach, learned about myself and ate lots of coconut, oh yeah and became a certified yoga teacher!
Just like that and my time at Vikasa is almost at an end, it's hard to believe it was a little over three weeks ago that I arrived here not knowing what to expect or who I would meet; now as I'm preparing to leave (thankfully with big plans to distract me) I know i'll miss my time here. Some days were a struggle to get through; my comfy bed luring me in, restless legs in meditation, long afternoon lectures and of course the dreaded chaturungas. But when the days were good (which was more often than not) they were good. Mornings filled with beautiful sunrises, peaceful morning meditation, delicious food, hours by the pool or at the beach, massages, and new feats reached when Kosta pushed us the extra inch. I didn't actually come into this training with a full on intent to leave after and start teaching; to be honest I wasn't even sure I could do it. But now all of that has changed just a little bit.
I've been in Thailand now for about three weeks now but I haven't actually seen that much of the country. I spent my first few days in Bangkok, faced restless sleep on the overnight train to Surat Thani and did some hiking in Koh Sok National park, but then the last two weeks slowed down a bit. I'm currently studying yoga at Vikasa Yoga retreat and as awesome as it is, I kind of feel like I'm living in a bubble. Being here it's easy to forget that we're still in Thailand, especially when our outings involve more tourists than locals. All of that changed last Sunday though, when I was reminded of the warm smiles and friendliness of the people in this country, during the Thai New Year celebration, Songkran.
After my adventure through Koh Sok National Park it was time for me to head East, eventually making my way to Vikasa yoga resort on Koh Samui island. In my head I had it all worked out, I found the cheapest route, planned my time accordingly and crossed my fingers. I actually remember texting my friend "I hope everything goes as planned today" but of course that did not happen. The first leg of the journey was simple, the owners of Smiley bungalows drove me to the bus stop and, although 30 minutes late, the bus picked me up with no problems. It was once I was on the bus and decided to read the wikitravel article for Surat Thani that I realized I'd probably be encountering some problems.
Basically my entire trip to Thailand revolved around my yoga teacher training course at Vikasa yoga so I had to plan a travel route around that. I arrived in Bangkok a week before it was due to begin (since that's when my Cambodian visa expired) but knew that I didn't want to spend an entire week in the city. I did a little research and realized I could head south and make a stop at Koh Sok National park to get in a little nature and hiking before being held captive on a gorgeous island for a month. (note the sarcasm).
High on the tourist track for a reason, home of good food (mostly) happy people, rich history and culture. Thailand as many tourist soon learn is just easy. Easy to visit, easy to get around and even easier to stay.