Day 35: Dice can't beat 'meh'
Can't roll my way out of a funk. Photo: Carbonlifestyle.com
CONCEDING the day doesn't seem like a terrible options. There is no particular reason to throw in the towel and lick my wounds like a feather weight boxer who's more focused on the fact that his dog ran away than having his face pummeled in the ring.
There has been no pummeling.
However, Chiang Mai is overwhelming for someone who has no direction. The dice are great for determining a specific path, but they still need to be given options. Chiang Mai, the cultural hub for tourism in all of Thailand, is full of options, but a lackluster attitude is getting me nowhere.
I need a partner in crime. Hell, I need the motivation to at least commit a crime.
At the moment, there is simply too much juggling to be done in one day: writing, video, photography, magic, tourism, fitness, eating, motorcycling, website and the list goes on. I have 24 hours to myself each day. It's disappointing to see the days disappear with so much untapped potential.
Today, however, I'm willing to concede. Back at the hostel, I climb into my bed, finding space among the tangle of charges to take a nape.
The hostel is not a good fit for me. The post-modern white walls and concrete structure is very nice; it has an appealing minimalist design and is spotless. Magnetic key cards buzz you in and out of the room. However, being on the posh side of town means that all the dirtbag travelers and adventures that I might rub elbows with in a the common room are across town. The clientele here are medium sized groups of educated Thais and other Asians, though there are a few other Westerners.
Though I'm in a shared dorm room, I've got the place to myself again, which is great for me re-packing and spreading my shit all over, but bad for the loneliness. It's a bit pitiful that I'm suffering from loneliness at all. I'm in constant contact with people on Facebook, I've got a swiping addiction on Tinder and it's easy to find people to talk to. However, the feeling is there. I'm aware of it, the same way a teen is painfully aware of their parents being in the room when a PG13 movie gets hot and heavy.
Perhaps it's the fact that there are so many options and I “should” be making more connections on Tinder that causes the loneliness to settle in. I can only hope that once I'm more isolated, I'm able to find better connections when those connections are available, as well as absorb the beauty of solitude when that is what is in play.
As it is, the dice send me to Blue Diamond for some healthy grub. Eventually, I find it down a narrow, unmarked alley in the heart of Old Town Chiang Mai. It's closed on Sundays.
Feeling a bit peeved with the dice for choosing options that are not possible to completely fulfill, I select a nearby restaurant that's also rated as one of the top dozen health food joints in the area.
At Dada Kafe, I maintain some control and select veggies with eggs and end up having two yummy health shakes with avocado in them.
Sitting along the street, I watch people in their 20s walk by, shouldering massive packs on their backs and day packs strapped across their chests. A solo female traveler flips through the menu in front of the cafe. I decided to ask her to join me, if she ends up staying. She has a plain face and long brown hair. However, it's simply the look of someone on the move, she's actually very beautiful.
The girl moves on, so I go back to my phone, trying to sort out what the hell I'm supposed to do in Chiang Mai.
The original plan was to meet up with Lindy. However, due to the complicated issue of me writing about everything, as well as her being sick, the likelihood of her meeting me in Chiang Mai is now close to zero. Nonetheless, I had it in my mind that I needed to get here by Saturday, without having spent a moment thinking about what to do once I arrived.
There are temples to see, massage classes, Khun Fu, Hilltribe day trips, Thai Chi, Chi Quang, markets and the list just keeps going. But what do I want to do today?
That is the problem, because the answer is nothing. I don't even have the motivation to go for a run – and it's a stunningly beautiful day.
This morning, I took care of the basics, finally washing my riding pants, which had developed such a funky sour smell that it seemed to follow me, even when I wasn't wearing the pants. In fact, the whole lot of clothing got a good wash. Only the second time they've seen water and soap since the trip started.
The clothes aren't dry by the time I get back to the hostel, despite me being further delayed by a Yamaha test-driving pop-up event in a vacant car park. Several dozens red and white cones outlined a curvy track for people to take the bikes on.
I'd decided to jump on a FJ-09, which is a 850cc sport-tourer. Nervous and awkward on the bike, I'm unable to really enjoy the experience. The brakes are too sharp and I have a niggling fear that I'll just drop it. The saddle is noticeably higher than my fully-loaded CB500X, creating a different point for the center of gravity on the bike.
I wobble through the curves a couple time, but never get comfortable, bringing the bike in before I have to. A sales man, dressed in a blue Yamaha shirt asks me how I like the bike.
I'm nice about it. I say the right things.
“Yes, it is a very light bike,” I parrot back to him.
I feign interest in the financing they have for the bike and take a price sheet, because, well, that seems to be the right thing to do.
Waking from my nap, I put on a “Happy Music” playlist on YouTube. Music makes everything better.
I need to pick up new headphones and get some tunes on my phone, so I can shake these funks better.
Despite the complete lack of chemistry with Andrea the night before, I throw the die to see if I should invite her along to browse the famous Chiang Mai Sunday Market.
The die thinks it's a good idea. We'll see about that.
I agree to pick her up at a nearby mall on the bike.
Worried about safety, she borrows my helmet.
Less than a minute into the drive the bike shutters and jerks beneath us as I pop the clutch and kill it in the middle of traffic.
“Glad you're wearing the helmet now,” I say with a smile.
A number of streets are closed to traffic in the heart of the Old Town for the market. We make our way across the ancient square mote at the center of town, passing the crumbling brick walls that once protected the city, but are now lit with soft orange lighting as part of the aesthetics of the 700 year old city.
The city was built as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, kingdom of a million rice fields.
“After centuries of defending itself Chiang Mai was successfully invaded and incorporated into Burma as a vassal state in 1557. Over the next 200 years Chiang Mai fell at various times under the rule of the strongest invader, be it Burma or Siam,” explains VisitChiangMai.com.
The entire area eventually was incorporated into Siam (modern day Thailand) in 1932.
Once in the market though, what little evidence of the Lanna Kingdom there is dissipates into the crowd of tourists and Thais, many munching on local food as they browse the handcrafts.
To be far, the local vendors in the market are selling real art and plenty of cute items that can be appreciated by domestic tourists, as well as foreigners from Hilltribe jewelry and traditional textiles to paintings.
Stall after stall of “handcrafted” items, however, begin to blend as we shuffle through the crowd, occasionally finding enough room to stretch our legs.
I stop to take a few touristy photos, apologizing to Andrea for doing so – as an expat some touristy things are just too much. However, she doesn't mind too much.
Though walking single file through the crowd, we talk. After stopping for food, we have a few sparks of banter – nothing that really takes off, but just those fleeting moments of genuine conversation.
It's not sensational, but it's nice. I buy a Joker sticker for the laptop, as well as some sealing wax for those letters I still need to write before calling it a night.