Most people when their VISA is coming up to expiration, they jump in a little, crazy, capsule of claustrophobic’ness and shoot up to the Thai-Burmese border town of Mae Sai. Pick up circa 7am, drop off circa 7pm.
Most of the day is spent in a poorly window’d, much smaller than big minivan, driving as if, both the van and the driver were spiked with Yabaa (mad drug). Once there, you say, “Hey!” to Burma, buy some cheap spirits or Chinese imitation electricals, and then solemnly return to Chiang Mai an an equally uncomfortable and depressing atmosphere of smallness.
This ain’t my cuppa tea.
Just the words;VISA run kinda sounds exciting. Well, the word ‘run’ gives this sense of freedom and experience; ask the chickens, they know! It is only VISA that has necessity and bureaucracy embedded within it making it sound like a boring chore of an expat in Thailand. You want advice on how to get a VISA from Mae Sai?
Ensure the stamp has an experience embedded within.
What better experience than taking my motorbike. I am a chicken out on the run. Prior to leaving, I was debating on whether to take Nong-B, my beloved ridiculous ‘bat bike’ of a bike, or my rented 110cc Honda Wave. The reasons being that Nong-B isnt that mechanically sound right now. As I am driving 300km into the thick of Northern Thailand then I don’t fancy it going pear-shaped (for Adam, that means wrong). On a long drive like this, I feel like a want a proper bike.
If you read my previous post (motorbikes and mindfulness), I mentioned the alive’ness I felt being this vulnerable, mortal being cruising along at 80km/ph with the fear of sudden death perched on my shoulders constantly reminding me that my soft-tissued skin was nothing compared to the hard, concrete skin of the road.
How can I feel more alive? Kick, rev, bite and go faster!!!
So, I chose Nong-B, my 19 year old Honda NS150 that I purchased for 7,500THB (that’s around 130quid and Adam, quid is not a fish). This was a NTNK (never try never know) decision. Stupidly thinking if it breaks down along the way, then at least I will know the 7500THB was worth it or what needs to be done to make it more reliable.
This was however, until I drove past Bikky Chiang Mai motorbike rental shop on Huay Kaew as I was leaving the city. The compulsion to stop and look lead me to rent a Honda CBR 150R. Hahaha….. I left Nong-B, 4000THB deposit (that wasn’t mine) and my license as deposit.
Kick. Rev. Bite. Go.
I was on my way from Chiang Mai – Mae Sai with the newly rented CBR, my nutshell, and my camel shorts habitually stuffed with unnecessary items. A post will be coming soon regarding these camel shorts.
Now, let me digress for a few lines. The last 5ish weeks I have very rarely drunk alcohol. The last 3ish weeks I have been meditating 2 hours a day. This has seen my mind change. It is beginning to flower.
I was aware.
I was mindful.
I was sharp.
With this and the teachings from Eckhart Tolle’s amazing book, ‘The Power of Now‘, my ability to stay present and conscious now came more easily and less likely to be distracted by the mind. My senses were more aware. All 6 of them were alive as I snaked my way through the countless mountains and provincial towns of Northern Thailand. The focus was my respiration. I did not alter my breathing, I simply watched and observed it. How fast was I breathing? Was the breath cold or warm? What smell was being channelled through my nostrils and hitting my olfactory system? Was the smell pleasant or unpleasant? I know what you’re thinking and it was not a distraction. This focus on my breathing kept me exactly in the present moment. This presence opens up your consciousness and you become so much more aware of your surroundings. You begin to appreciate the blossoming trees, the passing Buddhist temples, the blueness of the sky and the shadows on the ground creeping across the road with every minute of the day.
“The present moment is all we ever have” – Eckhart Tolle
I finally arrived in Mae Sai with only a few stops to refresh my contact lenses and take a shot with my rented Honda CBR with a temple as my wallpaper. I arrived, tired and back-broken, but alive. Not only was I alive, but I arrived feeling alive. The stamp now had an amazing experienced embedded within in it rather than a choreful, crazily cramped and claustrophobic car ride (Wow! Try saying that with a lollipop in your mouth).
The return to Chiang Mai I shall leave to your imaginations.
The motivation behind this blog was how one women inspired me. It seems only right that I mention other people that have inspired me in similar ways
Life can hand out some crazy shit to us all and quite often, there are one or two connections that come into our life just at the very perfect moment. This was unexpected as my years in Chiang Mai has seen me make many friends, but very few I had a real connection, a real bond with. Up until now, I accepted that it was rare to come across a friendship like this while travelling. But but but, back in November, a stocky, bearded guy from California arrived in Chiang Mai.
He arrived as a stranger. He left with me calling him a brother.
If you stood us side my side you probably wouldn’t think we had too much in common. This is simply because, on some level, we didn’t. He is highly motivated and driven. I however, lack motivation if there is no instant reward. He drinks shots of wheatgrass. I drink shots of Jim Beam. He practices yoga, fitness and meditation. I am lazy, love to sleep and, up until lately, have been a part-time meditator. He wakes up at the crack of dawn. I press the snooze button several times before I wake up momentarily hating the world and it’s early morning singing birds.
Despite all these differences; we shared a connection. A connection I can only relate to having with my own brother or sister. I was at a point in my life where I was in desperate need of family, but had chosen to return to Chiang Mai. I naively returned, in an attempt to chase my previous life, not knowing how desperately I would need unconditional acceptance of my emotions and behaviours. This is what family is for right? Well, he come along and very early on gave me the green light that I could be myself, no matter what mood I was in. Every aspect of me, it seemed, was accepted; my sadness, my lost’ness, my British’ness, my sense of humour and, to some extent, my decision to buy Nong-B.
But, like all things in this chaotic and swirly life of ours, things inevitably change and last week, he left. His purpose of being here in Chiang Mai was fulfilled. It was time for him to hug the ocean in Bali, touch base with his family and live out his dream of beginning a life in Southern California, or ‘So Caaal’. Innit?
The day he left I posted a note on his Facebook wall for all to see. I had this urge to let his friends and family know how much he had supported and inspired me during his time in Thailand. Due to my laziness and the efficiency, these days, of copy and paste, here is the post::
Normally i’d keep this more personal, but I want people that know you to know this.
You came into my life back in November2011 and for me, it was perfect timing. I was going through a dark time in my life, lost in an ocean of sadness with very little direction. I reached out to you and you gave me a much needed hand, filled with compassion, respect and brutal honesty. You were not afraid of my darkness and accepted the dark night I was, and still am, enduring. This hand showed me light and prevented me drowning in my sadness. Something I will be forever grateful for.
I respect and admire your drive and motivation in this life and it will always inspire me. You have been on a journey for the last five years and I feel you have reached a point in this life while being out here in Asia. I’m proud of you man.
I know and understand we are different on a certain level (fitness and health, hmm and EGO), but the level of consciousness, outlook on life and love we are on the same page man. We have the ability to love, the ability to connect and the ability to feel. We feel pain to an inexpressible amount, but we also feel love in the exact same way. Through this, we have shared a connection that I can now call you a brother.
Take it easy bro. Enjoy Bali. Enjoy life.
I’ll see ya on the other side
“Never try, never know”
Now, he has gone. However, in the last few months we have knotted, not only a friendship, but a brotherly bond that equals only to that of my own brother and sister.
P’Adam, brother, I am forever grateful.
PS Gonna miss ya on the other side of this world, but i’ll catch ya in ‘So Cal’.