Welcome to Thailand my friends. A new country and a new post.
Lots has happened, days have been full and I’ve not posted as consistent as a result. Here is a post to make up for the days of recent travel.
I spent the last few days of my 30 day Cambodian Visa in Sihanoukville on the coast. It was lovely to be by the ocean and get refreshed before heading to a new country.
A Country I have long-awaited to visit, and a country where more than one friend told me I would love. It was time to come here as I had arranged to meet a friend of mine in Bangkok, and because South East Asia has been a dream of mine to visit for some time now.
To be honest, I came to Bangkok and got overwhelmed. It was a much larger city that I anticipated it to be, lots of buildings spread around a wide radius, highways, transportation, city life going on. There wasn’t as much lights as one would see in an American city, but plenty of going ons. I wasn’t ready to do the city for the next week before I met my friend here. So I crashed at a hostel, left my suitcase in long term storage, packed a small pack and hopped on the first train out to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand the next morning.
It was the best decision I could have made.
I got into Chiang Mai with my small backpack around 8:30pm. I had no clue where I would end up staying that night and that’s okay, because in South East asian towns and cities, guesthouses are easily found and people are more than happy to assist you if you require direction. I sort of like trekking into areas with an intentional flexibility, you let the painting paint itself and it’s beautiful. I throughly enjoy the experience, but I do have some friends who cannot fathom ever doing such a thing with no plans. Hey, we’re all wired different right?
Anyways, I started walking and checked out some of the activity going on, people eating in restaurants, some music here, and I followed the direction where most cars were going. I stopped by an internet cafe to see if my friend Rachel, who lives in Chiang Mai, had recommended any guesthouses for me. She did. It was called Mountain guesthouse, and for about 7 dollars, you could have a nice AC room near the main part of the city. I noted it and found where it was on the map, identified my current location, and stored it as a backup plan as the night moved along.
I decided to check out the local Couchsurfing.org group for Chiang Mai and see if any events were happening. After all it was a Friday night. They had about 1,000 members active and it just happened so that some surfers were gathering outside of a 7-11 to listen to some music and hang out. Seemed interesting enough and the guy who posted the event looked really interesting, having recently served in Banda Aceh for five years after the tsunami and from Bandung, Indonesia where some of my family has roots in. The 7-11 was only a five-minute walk from the internet cafe, so hey, let the paint paint!
I came to the group only expecting to see two or three people, and instead there were about fifteen sitting around in a circle in an open area, some playing guitar, some singing, some chit chatting, and most everyone having a beer or soda of choice. I noticed the Indonesian couchsurfer Freddy, and starting talking with him about Indonesia and we hit it off immediately. As the night progressed, I found that most of these surfers were all working for organizations that fight for Burmese human rights, or enviromental awareness or education. These were all good hearted individuals and it was a pleasure to share a drink with them and discuss life under the moonlight.
Freddy offered to host me at his apartment for the weekend and I accepted, there was a lot to talk about and Freddy was a really unique individual. 36 years old, he lives life to the full. To give you some background, he has over 2000 facebook friends, and over 140 good references on couchsurfing. I have 30 references and have been a member for 4 years. TO get 140 references takes a LOT of experiences. I was looking forward to the weekend.
As the weekend took place, I ate well, explored water falls, spent time with other couchsurfers like Evan from the US, Nicole from Germany, Pan from Burma, Marie from England, John from New York and Sonja who is half Swiss/Half Thai. We went to a K-POP show that was sponsored by MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) It was a free concert that raised awareness to human trafficking and how to not fall victim. Lots of trafficking happens in the Northern Thai and Burmese villages, so it was really good to spread the message to the 10+ thousand screaming teenagers in the audience. I tell you, the K-POP band, Super Junior is big stuff out here!
The weekend continued and Freddy played a great host taking me around town on his Moto bike and showing me the sites. Throughout the weekend we had some of the deepest and realist conversations I have had in a while. It was fully comfortable and refreshing to me to talk to Freddy and we found we had more in common than we thought. We shared stories of our lives by a river in a rainforest listening to the birds and insects. Some rain fell down, it was a lovely time and I was thankful.
After 4 days, I had to leave and it was back to Bangkok.
I think this is enough for now, stay tuned for Shawn’s latest post properly titled “Bangkok’d!”
Thanks for reading~~~~~~