Sitting on a Bangkok Air flight awaiting take off to Chiang Mai, Thailand. An in between sensation, not really anywhere, been somewhere but not anywhere yet. Like 70, perhaps, been a lot of places and now the form forward is somewhat unshaped. So in the present, I have orchids in my hair and am writing , which I’m enjoying.
I never really noticed how strange air travel is. It bridges solid land realities but in itself is a dissociative entity. At Bangkok, a jumbo international airport, one travels through extended duty free zones , with video displays of skin whiteners modeled by both Thai men and women (with looks both translucent and suggestive), name brands boldly advertised, worldly destinations on gates as I move past, until I arrive at domestic and there is a mini food alley replete with Subway, Burger King, Macdonald’s, Krispy Kreme ( I couldn’t resist ), a fast food ramen place and a bar. All overlooking a huge garden sculpted into a lotus shape. This temporary world that exists between places. I am suspended.
We are now descending . Coming into yet another space. More adjustment; so many just below the surface: new smells , somewhere between sweet incense, putrescence and the best BBQ. Or how to walk; in the street, on a sidewalk, in an alley, edges and ledges, dips, street vendors, motorbikes; unexpected dimensions that are processed subliminally but “catch” your awareness. We know nothing about our accommodation…A “good news, bad news” review: cheap but a dump, A.C. but windowless, clean but cramped, bed so hard we could shoot marbles, in a good neighborhood but by this time who cares?
We walk around Chiang Mai, Thailand. An old walled city with a moat framing a delightful 1.5 kilometer square. A bit of a hippie enclave, definitely all tourist driven, but kind of nice with schools and wooden pagodas and lots of great looking street food but we are also fretting over our lodgings and what to do. Following little signs and passageways and seems everything is booked or way too expensive. Much more expensive than Cambodia. No dollar use here. Different country, different money and the Thai baht requires some mental translation after a month of Cambodian riels. Some freaking out vibes are creeping in. And I remember it is my birthday and am about to give way to an entitlement tantrum when I notice a charming sign painted in the same colors of the interior of my home. I stroll into the breezy dark space and inquire; No vacancy. I’m not swayed, I inquire further. Maybe, yes on 3rd floor. May I see? We hike up the big cement stairs. ” Oh, it’s great” I gush (though Steve says it smells). Only good for 2 nights, then move. Ok where? Next floor up-Steve wants lower. Lower available but faces the street. I negotiate and with a 10% discount I take the upper with a balcony and mountain view for the last 2 nights. Fingers crossed. The dealing with the current place was messy but there you have it. What it is like not working with an agency or tour company . Without local knowledge or language (I can say hello and thank you in Thai) it is challenging.