General, Travel

Whiter than White

This is only the second place on the tour that I am really pleased to be leaving. That isn’t half bad. I’m glad it was only a stop-off. I’ve been eaten alive and it still feels like a prison cell, despite a good night’s sleep. We’ve been looking through Marc’s pictures, and have scouted out some things to do in Chiang Mai. We’re on the hunt for the Kop bar, which looks like it is in the Muay Thai stadium, and we want to see this cool white temple with floating heads. SE Asia has some weird sights!

I’m getting used to sleeping on these buses to waste away the travel times; that, and scouting out the best toilets when we stop. This minor 5hr bus journey had been split into 2, stopping in the Northern city of Chiang Rai. What we didn’t realise when we arrived is that the White Temple was actually located here, and not in Chiang Mai – well that saves us some time and money! I feel like it’s a Disney temple – it’s so white and pristine. That, and they have floating heads in the trees located on the grounds. We also used these toilets in a gold temple next door. We had toilet slippers, and were shown to our own western toilets. Very snazzy. Unlike some of the others, we didn’t pay, and we didn’t have to use a smelly, toilet-paper-less squat.

Once we arrived in Chiang Mai, it hit me that this was the last place we’d visit as a group before heading back to Bangkok. I can’t believe it is almost over. As soon as we arrived in the hotel, Lek asked who would like to have a massage at a Women’s Prison. Now, a) I have wanted to have a traditional Thai massage for weeks as they’re known in this area, and b) it’s not everyday you get to go to a Thai prison, so Jade and I, and a group of us, signed right up..

When we arrived, it was a lot less prisony than I was expecting. Well, until Jade and I were led through and left to get changed into what looked like prison gear. At least there is no worry of being undressed like the last massage. Once in there, I had to ask what the lady was in for, a misdemeanour with controlled substances, better than assault I guess. The massage itself was great. Everyone who has had one has warned they can hurt, but it wasn’t painful at all. Yes, I was pulled, pushed and elbowed in, and into, some weird places and shapes, but it seems to have done the trick.

Relaxing in the pool with Jade, Leianne, and Katja, post massage, I realised how different everyone’s future journeys are. Some are travelling on to Australia, Bali, Singapore, and South Africa, and some are returning home to work. It’s strange, we’re kind of caught in the middle. I’m excited though, nervously excited.

Muay Thai is about as far away from massages as you can get. Post pool and drinks, post-night market (which we barely saw 😦 oh well) and pre-night out, we rocked up to the Muay Thai stadium, with few expectations other than the long awaited Kop bar, and a violent evening. When I sat down, I got chatting to a couple next to me (yes, they were United fans, yes, they were lovely. I know, I know, but the exception proves the rule!) and they ended tagging along for a night out. This is what travelling is like, I can’t wait as it goes on and on for the rest of the year. The fight was fairly brutal, although not as bad as I was expecting. I’d go again, I think.

I think it was also my first proper night out. They don’t do drinking late in this part of the world outside of Bangkok and the islands, and sure enough the club(s) shut around 1:30am, but it was great. A lot of funny things happened, not to mention video-calling in the lobby at 4am. I can’t believe I suffered Hanoi for two nights and only get one here. I never even got to get a drink in the Kop Bar.

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