After living in Thailand for around 2 and a half years, something I never thought I’d be doing is renting a motorbike and going on a roadtrip around the island of Koh Chang with my mum and her partner Mark.
Weird, surreal, but kinda cool.
So, breakfast was had at M&M’s resort, KB Resort on Kai Bae. I cannot recall ever having a breakfast like this here in Thailand. They got it free with the room, but for an extra 150B I could join and I had as much pancakes, maple syrup, cereal and egg sandwiches as I could eat. Trust me, I ate a lot. A gluttonous side of me comes out during any all you can eat buffs. So, with my stomach full, and satisfied, we rented out bikes. We donned our helmets and away we went. Off to Bang Bao village at the southern point of Koh Chang.
The roads were similar to that of Northern Thailand twisting and turning their way through the isle’s mountains, only I think a few more potholes and farang nakedness on the way. The views of the ‘big blue’ was insane. It was dotted with mini islands of green surrounded by tourquoisey blue shallows. Note to self: Moment for photo, save up and buy a camera.
So, still a little hazed at the fact my mum is in Thailand, let alone trippin’ through some crazy coastal mountains on the back of a Yamaha. Weird. So, about 14 or so k we get to a sign pointing us in the direction of Bang Bao; a small stilted village. We parked up. We started the farang parade through the pier filled with the usual Thai souvenirs you can find in Chiang Mai’s night bizarre (most of them crap) apart from the t-shirts read Koh Chang. So, as we scooby doo’d passed the snorkels, t-shirts, Buddha statues, snorkels, t-shirts, Buddha statues, snorkels, t-shirts, Buddha statues we made it through the other side with no ghoul in sight, only boats. Lots of them. We took a stroll, vulnerable to the hot midday sun, all the way to a sweet, little lighthouse at the foot or head (maybe end) of the pier.
We gaze at the beauty, we marvel at the array of boats (nah, that was just the fisherman doing that) and we chuckle at the floating bra. Not sure why, just seemed a weird thing to be floating among the plastic bags and bottles of the ‘big blue’. Hmm.. now i’m here, a quick rant. Thailand, you have such beautiful beaches, oceans, islands, land, people and yet your oceans and beaches are often full of shit. Seven!! Eleven!!! Stop dishing out plastic bags. People, if your in Thailand, give the 7/11 a little “mai ao tung” and stick your goods in your pocket. Breeeathe, better.
So, Bang Bao was cute, though full of a lot of crap to buy. A quick Sprite then back to the bikes. Where now? Khlong Phu waterfall just North of Kai Bae on the west coast of the elephant island. We rewound ourselves back through the snakey coastal roads passing concentration camps for elephants and we eventually made it to Khlong Phlu waterfall. We parked our bikes following a vicious request from a Thai lady wanting to make a quick Baht and proceeded to again get ripped off by paying 200B a person to enter the waterfall. It is maybe worth it, however, there are waterfalls in Chiang Mai that are magical, yet free. This I like.
It turned out that the waterfall was for sure impressive. However, it was scattered in faranguanas scaling the rock faces and pools monotonously climbing up the rocks and jumping in. Climbing up the rocks and jumping in. Climbing up the rocks and jumping in. Exactly! You know the score. So, with my shirt, scarf and shorts donned with only my bare feet showing I scrambled over the rock faces to get myself closer to the fall. It was tall and skinny. I liked it. I wanted to swim, instead I sat, pondered, watched and sweated. I scrambly returned back to a thirsty M&M and we left in search of a cold, icey drink.
Where now, white sands. This, was, indeedly crap. The beach and resorts reminded me of Benidorm in Spain and I really wasn’t motivated to stay. And as a result, I am not motivated to write much more. We returned back along the coats to Kai Bae beach. It rained. I stopped. M&M the responsible pair wanted to carry on. I thought. I pondered. I went with it. We returned. Wet, soggy and satisfied we remained unharmed by the concrete snakes of Koh Chang.
A good day.
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.