Travel Days & Arrival

Traveling leaves me with a surreal sense of time. I woke up in my own bed on Wednesday morning, missed my bus and took a taxi to Schiphol. 3 flights and 3 countries later, I’m lying in my guesthouse bed in Chiang Mai. It’s 4:45 in the morning, 2 dates later. Friday.

After checking my bag in Schiphol, I heard my name. It was one of my clients. I knew that her daughter and daughter’s family were on the same flight, and there they were. They’re not bound for Chiang Mai, though. I’m idly curious where they decided to live for their 5 months in Thailand, but forgot to ask. 

Weather in Amsterdam: moderately cold but no wind for once and seemed dryer, so I wasn’t very cold in my light layers for travel. Here’s the view:

The flight was uneventful, my favorite way to be able to describe a flight. I had an exit row seat.

We landed in Helsinki. There was snow and I remembered how lovely Helsinki is. I should go back to Finland. But not in winter. You can’t tell how pretty Finland is from the airport, but here it is:

The layover was only about an hour. I stretched my legs by walking around. I’ve been having trouble with my left leg for a while. It starts aching in pain when I sit in a chair for longer than about 10 minutes. This wasn’t improved by injuring one of my left toes badly the other day. I can’t wiggle my toes or stretch them right now, which makes my leg cramp up even more.

The next leg of the flight was the long one, to Bangkok. I thought I’d gotten very lucky when I saw my seatmate, a tiny pierced and tattooed girl, about 20 years old. She was nice enough, but replaced excess size with cramming all kinds of stuff into the seat with her. And I’ve never been elbowed so often on a flight before. I don’t think she was doing it on purpose, just very unaware.

It was a bad flight. Finnair was fine, no problems with weather or plane. There was, however, a toddler just across the aisle who screamed during almost the entire 9 hours. Open-throat, full screaming. During one of the infrequent sleeping periods, I watched it start screaming before it woke up. I am not exaggerating. I wear earplugs, always, on flights, but this was too nearby for them to do any good. And when the baby briefly stopped screaming, the 2 Finnish business men behind me would actually talk louder. How can 2 people talk for 9 hours without pausing?  The point of this is to say that, even after taking a sleeping aid, I didn’t sleep. My eyes were bloodshot when we landed, and I was feeling kind of hazy.

Bangkok was foggy at 7am, so I didn’t take this picture until the flight out.

Bangkok airport is like a garden. It was less festive than last time I flew through, though. I suspect that has to do with the current unrest there. As Thailand approaches elections, there have been demonstrations that turned violent, culminating in a state of emergency being declared a couple of weeks ago, and military order. Don’t worry, family people. This is not going to affect me in the north at all, and we’re staying with a friend when we go through Bangkok later on the way south. Besides, that friend said that its actually much safer now that the military has stepped in. So from that perspective, everything’s fine. For all the other perspectives, read the news.

I had a bit of stress sorting out this transfer. I had 2.5 hours to get through customs, puck up my bag, check in for the next flight, and get to the gate. And it was more than enough, especially since I asked if I could go through the priority lanes. I shouldn’t have stressed.

I had an exit row again for the last flight, next to a young american couple who were so stereotypically american that I was slightly in shock. If the girl said “thank you SO much!!!!!” one more time to the flight attendant, I was going to explain to her that she gave the impression that she would have died if another second had gone by without the help said attendant proffered. How many times can you over thank someone during one pass-by with the garbage collection? It was a one-hour flight. Thank goodness.

Welcome to Chiang Mai!!

Not much of an impression. But I like it. There are mountains here, hurray! And lots of trees.

I got my bag and took a cab to my guest house. I’m not so sure about my guest house. I’m giving it a day or two to see, so more later. The people are really nice, anyway. I have to speak Dutch with them, which is funny.

After unpacking and showering, I went for a walk. I remember so much from 3 years ago, but it’s confusing. Matt and I weren’t in town much, last time. We went on a couple of area trips and also stayed at our cooking school a few days. Town is even smaller than I remembered, and I’m curious to see what I think, spending this much time here.

I wandered the route to get to my first days of classes, and stopped in to ask about motorcycle rentals, which was reassuring. Nice chat with the guys there. I think I will probably go ahead and try it, but we’ll see. If I do, it won’t be for a couple of weeks, anyway.

Then I went to the blind massage place for a 2-hour massage.

I had to use the toilet when I got there, and as I waited for it to be available, I was nearly run into by 3 careening masseurs. One of them turned out to be mine. The one that had fallen through 2 doors, headbutted his colleague, and in general been the moist clumsy.

But luckily, he wasn’t clumsy during the massage. He was awesome! It started very very slowly, with lots of palm pressing up and down my leg. The left leg, so I was super happy.

He used mostly Wat Po protocol and technique, but not strictly. I was impressed by the slowness of the double thumb presses, which gave them a very different feel. I’m going to skip most of the detail here because I’m tired again and want to nap a little before my alarm goes off in an hour.

After the massage, I had a crappy pad Thai in a tourist place on my way home, bought a big bottle of water at 7-11, and went to bed. It was about 6pm when I fell asleep.

I woke up at 8pm thinking it was 8am, even though my clock said 20:00. I freaked out that I was late for class, then looked at the clock again. Back to sleep!

And that was my first day. I will try to write every day, and I promise more pictures, too.