Sadly I left Chiang Mai today.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time here. The hostel was amazing, the people friendly, the activities plentiful, the town small and authentic. It was everything I look for on my travels.
But it’s time to move forward – onward to Laos.
Well, in a few days anyway.
I’ve decided to slowly go into Laos meaning rather than taking a long bus ride to Chiang Khong which borders Laos I took a (relatively) short 3 hour bus ride to Chiang Rai first where I’ll stay a couple of nights before taking another short 2 hour bus ride to Chiang Khong.
This way I’m not trapped on a bus forever, I get to see some more of small town Thailand and I get some time to figure out just what in the hell I’m going to be doing in Laos.
Because the buses to Chiang Rai run so frequently I decided to sleep in and head to the bus station around 10:30am. I figured a noon-ish bus would get me there around 3pm which seemed like a good time to checkin.
Of course when I reached the bus station I was promptly told the next available bus was leaving at 12:45 as the others were full.
So I found myself with close to two hours to kill.
I spotted a sign for McDonalds across the way and headed over there for some air conditioned and free wifi.
Well, not completely free as I had to buy something to get an access code.
So, I had to buy a hamburger.
I was actually happy for the extra time because I was able to pop together last night’s blog and catch up on a few things web related.
At 12:45 I boarded the bus and by 4pm we reached Chiang Rai.
I was so thankful the ride was only 3 hours as I was starting to feel a bit queezy halfway through.
As I stepped off the bus I was once again hounded by people asking if I wanted a taxi/tuk tuk/place to stay.
Ah, that never gets old.
I was confident in my ability to find the hostel on my own as their instructions were pretty descriptive and it was only a 15 minute walk.
Of course even just 15 minutes in the sweltering heat and humidity with a huge, heavy backpack on your back is quite a workout.
By the time I reached the hostel I was drenched in sweat and so happy to plunk down the backpack and checkin.
By the way, as a side note – there is a certain level of accomplishment and self satisfaction that comes with finding your hostel in a foreign city.
Of course that accomplishment and satisfaction would soon be tempered by my inane ability to also get lost in a new foreign city.
The man at the front desk showed me on his little map where a good place to walk around and get some dinner was.
It seemed pretty straight forward so I headed off for dinner.
I never did find the area he had described and, in fact, ended up wandering around residential neighborhoods for almost 2 hours.
Yup, I got lost big time.
At least with major streets you have some sort of direction or you can catch a taxi to get you back to point A.
On the residential streets I felt like I was walking in circles just hoping the next corner would lead to a major road.
There were actually a handful of times I came upon a major road and thought I had made it only to soon discover, nope, I was still lost.
Add to the fact that I stubbornly didn’t ask anyone for directions and, yup, it adds up to a couple of hours.
Why didn’t I ask for directions? Good question.
I think part of it was pride. I didn’t want to admit I had gotten myself into this predicament (again). The other part was I really wanted to get out of this by myself.
When I finally did reach a major road it was a little too major. Like a major 6 lane highway leading in 3 different directions and I had no idea which way to go and any way I chose looked like I would be walking for quite awhile longer.
I finally gave in and flagged down the first tuk tuk I saw and for 60 baht ($2) he drove me for 5 minutes back to my hostel.
Incidentally I was heading in the right direction but it would have easily been another 20 minute walk and I probably would have second guessed myself halfway there and turned down a street heading in the wrong direction.
When I finally got back I didn’t go inside because I still hadn’t eaten!
I walked back to the first major street I was on and stopped at the first street food stall I saw. They had chairs and tables setup so I could eat there.
On the stall was a little digital clock/thermometer that read 8:00 and 28C. Yeah, that was a fun walk!
I had an order of fried chicken with rice for 20 baht (60 cents) and it was so good I actually had a second order. Plus I had a much deserved Slurpee from the 7-11 next door.
Yup, that was my day. Another city, another fun time wandering around lost.