Arrived a day early, left a day early. I think the heat, the cars and the city are getting to me. Never before have I dreamed of mountains, beaches and hills of green green grass. After countless days of walking with cars zooming past you at 50 MPH and scooters coming out of every direction of the road, it can get tiresome. The pollution can get to one’s head. Chiang Mai is a beautiful city, full of culture and beautiful art. However, I feel like I’m part of the crowd that heard Chiang Mai was beautiful and am part of the thousands of tourists flocking the streets dressed in pants that cross between MC hammer and your worst 80’s nightmare.
Last Thursday I attended the Loy Krathong festival which means “to float a basket.” According to H.M. King Rama IV, writing in 1863, it was a Brahmanical festival that was adapted by Thai Buddhists in Thailand to honor Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama. The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements.
Let’s just say based on my experiences of moving back home to Flagstaff, I needed to set afloat a lantern and basket.
That night the streets filled with people, parade floats, lanterns, flowers, lights and an abundance of delicious Thai food. Everyone was taking to the streets lighting paper lanterns, taking pictures, making a wish and setting afloat their paper lanterns into the sky. That evening amongst the full moon, thousands amongst thousands of paper lanterns dotted the sky for hours on end. Despite the slight rain that evening, it was a momentous occasion for everyone that participated in Loy Kathrong. I’m not going to say what my wish was but those close to me probably know what I wished for. It felt like a new beginning watching the negativity of the past two years float away down the Ping River.
The rest of the evening was a celebration of fireworks, standing in the rain and walking back to the hostel. With my feet and skirt covered in mud, it was a long day but well worth coming a day early to Chiang Mai.
The next couple days, well, that’s when I finally got homesick for the first time. I had my own room in a guesthouse further from the city, I thought “Privacy!” But little did I realize backpacking on one’s own can get lonely. I ended up watching a movie that I saw back in Seattle for two nights in a row called “Tracks.” I bawled like a baby those two nights and asked myself what am I doing? I then realized I wasn’t following my heart. I was following an agenda. An agenda I have been following the past two years that would throw out any emotional or spiritual growth. Which in result has left me dry to the bone. I needed to follow my heart (sounds cheesy I know but I say it to so many people yet I wasn’t doing the same).
Most that I have encountered in Thailand are here for vacation. They are either running away from their problems or finding a bandage to ease the pain with beer and cheap kicks. After ten years of cheap kicks and just being plain stupid sometimes, I come to the realization , enlightenment doesn’t exist at the bottom of a bottle. Maybe that’s why Thailand was not the right place for me, right now. I am on a journey to face my problems, face my uncertainty and the restlessness of every decision I have made. I needed to let go and see what else was out there. I am on a journey not vacation.
The next day I booked my flight to Kathmandu. Nepal.
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