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I’m not going to lie. Thailand and Laos was a bit controversial. While the scenery was absolutely ridiculously stunning, the people did bother me a little bit. It wasn’t that they weren’t kind and helpful. That wasn’t it at all. I like to go naked when I feel like it, spending most of my time in nude beaches and such. This is totally not okay in these countries.
One day I was walking along in Pai in search of the tattoo parlor. I found it, and the man inside was incredibly kind in telling me that walking around in a bathing suit top, which I was, was totally inappropriate there. Oops. I of course didn’t know this, or I wouldn’t have done it. I shuffled my way back to my hostel, and never went out in a bathing suit top again.
The thing is I will respect a culture I’m in, but I didn’t exactly respect that part of the culture.
To boot, I am incredibly individualistic. In Western society we are taught to be that way. In many Asian cultures, however, conformity is the norm. People are very bothered by what others might think, and how their friends and family might react to this or that. Okay, I guess many are like that in Western countries too. It just seemed more so here.
Alas, I was still in South East Asia, and I had to do some exploring. It all began in Bangkok, where I landed but certainly didn’t want to stay. I messed up big time. I’d booked a flight straight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, but when I arrived I realized one key point: I booked the flight for the previous day. I’d gotten all mixed up with the crazy time change, and suddenly I had no flight out of Bangkok. To boot, I was incredibly broke.
Fortunately there was WiFi, and I hopped online to check out AirAsia airlines. I’d booked with them before, plus everyone told me they were incredibly cheap for flights within Asia. Naturally, I was so broke at the time – just waiting to get to Pai where I could work and earn some money – that I actually had to borrow money off of a friend. There I was in the Bangkok airport with little more than a dollar, having to use the WiFi to ask a friend to send some money so I could, you know, survive. It was an ordeal, but one I entirely did to myself.
Sure enough, I found affordable airline tickets. Thank god. Less than $100 later and I was on booked in for the next flight to Chiang Mai. I had to switch airports, but it wasn’t really a bother; there was a free shuttle. You just had to show your ticket onward, evidence that you needed to switch airports.
I arrived in Chiang Mai and quickly got to the hostel I’d booked. It was simple, but nice, right in the centre of town. My friend who lived there (who I met in Peru, but was English) raved about Chiang Mai. He said it didn’t feel like a city despite being one.
I disagreed. It felt like a city completely to me. We met up and had some drinks, but before long I was out of there. Nope, cities are just not my cup of tea.
You can’t fly into Pai, so you have to take an incredibly windy road to get there. Be warned: you probably want motion sickness medication. But within three hours we arrived, and I was happy as could be. Pai was much smaller than it’s giant cousin Chiang Mai, and I could walk everywhere. Now that was my more my pace.
And so for the next month I stayed in Pai, loving every minute of the slow pace of life. I even renewed my visa to stay longer, though I had to venture to Chiang Mai to do that.
Alas, it was eventually time to go, and I hopped on a bus from Chiang Mai to the Laos border, where I took the slow boat to Luang Prabang. It was an absolutely marvelous adventure, which I highly recommend.
In all, I had an amazing time in Asia, though perhaps it’s not exactly on my return-to list. Who knows, though. The future can lead to anything.