After nights of jolting awake by surges of sadness and days of staring at my world through the tainted rims of my tears, I've decided to be selfish; to let this overwhelming phase of life to be a mere part of my travel experiences.
After my 20 hours 3rd class train travel from Bangkok's Hualampong Station to Chiangmai Train Station, all I could think and in need of was proper bedding and food, though I couldn't be happier that I met a Singaporean Couchsurfer on the train and finally had some company after days of solo travelling. Little (maybe never) did I expect to discover real feelings for someone at the last leg of my backpacking journey.
Dropping my haversack at my Couch host's, Eric, apartment, we headed to the night market with Wenpu (Singaporean Couchsurfer) and quickly bonded over street food and philosophical debates. Maybe it was the intellectual stimulation I lacked and craved for the past month, I started feeling fluttery for Eric inside.
|Temple at Doi Itanon|
Sticking to the plan Wenpu and I made on the train, we headed up to Doi Itanon the next morning in high hopes to find leaves enveloped by the frozen morning dew. Lost, literally and in communication, the scorching sun has already took its majestic place when we reach the highest mountain in Thailand. The closest thing to morning dew was the beads of perspiration forming on our faces.
|Weekly Muay Thai Match|
It was not till the second night when we found familiarity and comfort in each other. Forcing my extra obnoxious backpacker's elephant pants on him, we went for my first Muay Thai Match together. As if we were the opposites of those shy mimosa plants, we shared our inner stirrings (or at least I did) as we sat close in between breaks of the matches, battling the winter breeze.
Despite the supposed meet up with my mates in Bangkok, I knew I had to extend my stay in Chiangmai to know this person better. I couldn't bring myself to cut off whatever (lack of) connections we established. I needed more. I wanted more.
|Countdown from Doi Suthep|
If someone pops the "if you had a chance to turn back time" question now, my answer would be New Year 2014 with Eric, without a doubt or hesitation. We grabbed fire crackers and Thai Whiskey and rode up Doi Suthep, this mountain not far off the city centre. Spare me from the lavish countdown parties and getting drunk in Singapore, cityscape with never-ending fireworks was all I needed to kick start my year.
Bounded by my impending school opening, we were only left with a few nights together before distance got better of us. We came up with a "dress nice, eat classy Friday" themed date up the mountains. Like we needed more memories to our bank, candles and utensils were replaced with joss sticks and hands-in-plastic-bags respectively; the motorbike's tire gave way too.
Maybe I didn't know myself as well as I thought, I was my own source of surprises. In life and travels, it was the feeling of uncontrolled falling I craved, and the lessons and adventures that were inherent. Unlike back home where everyone would question my daily life and my tangible life goals, there - it seemed that neither of us had a past or future; we were just enjoying ourselves until time runs out.
There was when I thought wrong, I actually wanted a future.
During my painstakingly long awaited summer holidays, I found myself with turbulence-like emotions amidst the clouds. I was on my way to meet Eric in Chiangmai again.
I was cruising around Chiangmai city with my favourite blob of blonde mess once again. An unfamiliar mixture of excitement and exhaustion. Everything seemed so vivid yet so new, it felt as though it was the first time I stepped out of my own doors. I decided to learn how to love.
I revisited the places that I missed so dearly. Huay Keow Waterfalls. Smelling DeJaVu, I stripped to my bare feet and frolicked in the clear waters.
|Dirty feet @ Huay Keow Waterfalls|
No longer a backpacker, I could afford some cafe hopping and they served one of the best pastries I ever tried.
|Happy Birthday, you. Whatever you wished for then, I hope it came/comes true.|
|Chai and Thai Coffee @ Bear Hug Cafe|
|Key Lime Pie on the left, to die for.|
My experience in Chiangmai has been and will always be too surreal to me. I've never been a real backpacker in this city. What I can accurately recollect from this city is my arms tight around my favourite being, joy-riding to hunt for good eats and watching the sun meets the horizon each day.
Months of wallowing in self-pity and weaving reunion stories that hilariously will never happen, I realised that no relationship is equal and there is always one person who comes back for more; always an imbalance in this equation. I wanted to say it was an awful feeling, but in fact, like most things connected with one's innermost desires, it was wonderful and awful at the same time.
And before these beautiful memories of Chiangmai city refused to rise anymore and be replaced with hateful resurrection of jealousies, ugliness and miseries, this is the best travel log I can provide.
Chiangmai, never again.