To the North…

Sun 19 July 10:30am  In Bangkok Airways, “The Boutique Airline” lounge. Quite posh, free grub, internet, coffee, etc. My flight is at 12:30; 2 hours away. Last night, when I mentioned at the reception desk of my hotel that I would be departing the next day and could they order a taxi for me, I as intending to get to the airport about 90mins before the plane departed. This would give me enough time, I thought, as it was a domestic flight with no passport control or immigration. Oh no, no, no, they said at the desk. You should be there 2 or 3 hours before, this is how it is in Thailand. Ah well, I said to myself, no problem, when in Rome etc etc. I had an early breakfast, checked out and off to the airport at 9:15am and arrived about 20mins later as there was almost no traffic. I was expecting huge crowds and long queues but not a bit of it. I was through check-in and security in the wink of an eye; almost as quick as a politician puts a brown envelope full of used fivers in his back pocket. Now I’m in the Interzone, in the land of the mugwumps and awaiting transition.

The hotel I stayed in for the past few days was the first time I ever stayed in a 5 star hotel. Golly, the luxury is very seductive. It’s not that I’m mean but generally prefer to work to live and not live to work. This means that I avoid, so far as is possible, anything that needs a substantial financial outlay. This means that I avoid fiscal servitude, as I see it. Others have a different view, I know, but that’s fine. I generally stay in fairly low cost hotels, 2 or 3 star and they’re generally perfectly adequate. However, this time, when I was booking online, I noticed a deal with Raddison Hotel in Bangkok that was about a third of the usual price. Oh, go on, I said to myself, push the boat out for jaysus sake and don’t be mean. So, I did. I applied this theme to meals etc and was expecting a huge bill when I checked out this morning but it only came to €150 or so. Cool. Just like the air conditioning in my room and Doctor Who’s bow tie.

I didn’t sleep very well last night which is unusual for me. I thought that jet lag wouldn’t notice me if I kept very quiet but notice me it did and came calling last night. I was watching TV at about 11pm and suddenly felt very tired. I nodded off for half an hour or so and then woke up and continued watching some mindless shite on the box and then went to bed and spark out almost immediately. I woke up, wide awake, at 2am and couldn’t get back to sleep. It felt like I just had an afternoon nap; which it was effectively as my body clock was still on Dublin time and thinking it was early evening. So I started reading a book for the next few hours and went back to sleep at dawn, at around 5:30am and slept fitfully and with vivid dreams until the alarm went off at 7:30am. I had a shower and a huge breakfast, delivered to my room by an astonishing beautiful Thai man who had the most most beautiful smile. Or was I still dreaming?? I’m now saying…

I’m reading, on my ebook reader, a book by a SciFi author called Dan Simmonds. It’s the Hyperion series and is four volumes of about 500 pages each. Perfect mind candy as it is intelligent, emotionally pretty sophisticated and demonstrates tremendous imagination. Oh yes, it’s well written too. All this is a perfect foil to the pretty turgid academic textbooks I generally read. It also doesn’t demand the concentration, engagement and reverent attention that literature would demand and neither is it simplistic rubbish. Grand.

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10:00pm same day  Did the whole flying through the air thing and now ensconced in an hotel in Chiang Mai. Just remembereed to put in the ‘n’ before ‘hotel’ The flight was very stress free. The Thai people seem to possess a great equanimity and never seem to loose their cool. It makes what could be stressful situation fairly ok. I had a smaller baggage allowance, 20kg instead of the 30kg allowance I had for the Dublin to Bangkok leg. I took the whole allowance as I might be here for a year and the dress code at work is smart or business casual so I packed long trousers and 12 shirts as I usually need to change once a day due to excessive sweating. This meant that I would be surcharged for the excess baggage. This was no problem as work would pay the difference but the women at the checkin desk was apologetic as she informed me “sorry, sir. I may have to charge you a little extra for extra baggage” She then wrote it down on a piece of paper and pushed it across the desk to me while not maintaining eye contact with me. Sweet.

I didn’t get much of a chance yet to see Chiang Mai but will over the next 10 days. There are many old famous Wats or Buddhist monasteries in the area and I want to see a few. I did go for a long walk to the nearest market to find some food. The place I’m staying at is outside the central area and seems a bit rural. It’s on the banks of the Ping River. I found a market with the usual mamasans making food at the side of the road. It smelt delicious and I was going to buy some but thought better of it. My O’Flora and MacFauna haven’t quite gone native yet. I thought that there might be a bit of aggro if I introduced them to the local lads. All in good time. Slowly, slowly, monkey catchee. Instead I went to, yes, you’ve guessed it, Tescos. The buggers are even here, althought they call themselves Tesco Lotus but have the same branding.

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Chiang Mai seems very different from Bangkok and there are very few high rise buildings around and, at least where I am, none of the typical tawdry tourist trade. There’s very little English on the signs anywhere. I was the only pinkish person I saw the whole afternoon. By the time I got back from my walk, I was drenched in sweat. Thanks be to all gods for air conditioning and power showers, eco-unfriendly as they may be. Looking forward to a good nights sleep tonight to make up for last night’s battle in the time wars. Off to work tomorrow morning at 8:30am to meet the rest of the team and see how they work in The Cabin. A car is picking me up. I enjoy meeting new people and thankfully my social anxiety and crippling shyness is now a thing of the past. Long may it remain in the shadowlands and only resurface occasionally to keep me in touch with the cultivation of the attitude of gratitude.

That’s it. Off to bed now.

More soon possums…

2 thoughts on “To the North…

  1. Hello Brian – following you on your travels … and enjoying what you day is like. so work is where and for how long? spent the day at home in Bristol for the harbourside festival – hot and lots of people and less stages than last year so not enough performances – dance or music or poetry but good spending company with friends in recovery. love rose xx

    1. Thanks Rose. I’m in Chiang Mai until the end of this month and then off to Hong Kong to work in an outpatient clinic. The job is permanent so I’ll be here for the foreseeable. I remember Bristol with fondness. Hugs in recovery. Brian

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