1/9/18: 12 Hour Journey to Chiang Mai

I woke up at 4:15 am and got my stuff together, checked out, and cabbed to Bangkok Bus Terminal.

One thing I’ve noticed in Asia is that everyone, almost immediately upon meeting me, will ask me about my ethnicity. In all the countries I’ve visited thus far: Taiwan, Philippines, and Thailand, all the locals think I’m a local. Taiwanese think I’m Taiwanese, Filipinos think I’m Filipina, Thai people think I’m Thai. It’s kind of funny how it’s the first thing they ask me… I feel like in the U.S. it’s seen as offensive to ask people about their race before getting to know them, but here it’s almost instinctual.

Anyway, the cab driver asked me why I look Asian when I told him I’m from the U.S., and then (as I’ve learned to do after receiving so many questions about my background) I explained that I’m half Japanese.

I got to the bus station at 5:15, 45 minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave. The bus turned out to be pretty nice: double decker, and large, EXTREMELY reclinable seats. Like, I’m talking flat-on-your-back reclinable. But it’s kinda impractical, because if you recline all the way then you end up hitting the people behind you…so… unless you’re a complete a-hole, you’re not going to do that.

The bus helper person gave us a bottle of water and breakfast snacks to begin with (a muffin, cookie, and banana chips, all of which were not vegan unfortunately). We left pretty much on time, which I was surprised by.

I ate my berry crumble thing I bought yesterday, plus a persimmon and some pumpkin chips.

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Same crappy berry crumble pic from yesterday :/ :/
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pumpkin chips!

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I slept for about 2 hours after that.

We stopped around 11 am at a rest stop to pee & eat (lol ew). Turns out we all got a free meal included with the bus ticket! Something I did not know. We were at a super casual Thai-style cafeteria. I got wide flat noodles (the ones used for pad see ew), with vegetables and rice. It was actually pretty delicious.

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We got back on the bus and didn’t stop again until we got to Chiang Mai. I spent the rest of the ride alternating between sleeping, eating, reading, and listening to podcasts. The bus helper person handed out soy milk (!!!), and (non-vegan) cookies about an hour before arrival. The soy milk was surprising good, although a bit too sweet for my liking. No complaints though– I’ll take whatever vegan food I can get!

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We arrived in Chiang Mai around 5:15, and I climbed into the back of a songthaew (basically a truck adapted into a taxi) after haggling my fare down to 40 baht from 50 baht (HUGE SAVINGS!!!!). There were about 10 other people in the songthaew, all of whom got dropped off before me, leaving me as the lone passenger around 40 minutes into the ride. Being the only rider, I assumed I would be the next to be dropped off.

However, the driver turned in the opposite direction from my hostel, and I got confused & worried. Then I noticed there were two monks (it’s super common to see monks in their traditional orange robes here) riding in the front with the driver– they ended up getting dropped off at the Chiang Mai Zoo, which took me quite a ways away from my hostel. The driver turned around back toward the direction of the hostel and I breathed a sigh of relief. At this point I had been in the truck for over an hour, and I was anxious to get off.

Then we hit rush hour traffic. Then we picked up more passengers. And then another passenger. I started to get super frustrated by it all and I even teared up a little bit… embarrassingly.

I thought to myself, “Man, you are weak. You are crying over this??! Over having to be in a taxi for an hour and a half??? You are in CHIANG MAI. You should be grateful.” But I was just so annoyed and frustrated. Plus I needed to pee really freaking bad. I literally could have FLOWN from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in less time than it took to drive from the Chiang Mai bus terminal to my hostel.

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View from the Songthaew

I eventually got to the hostel around 6:45 pm. I checked in, dropped off my stuff, peed, and left to find food.

I ended up going to Reform Kafe, a super cute all-vegan cafe 10 minutes from my hostel. I ordered a bunch of food since I was starving: a spicy cucumber salad, a banana smoothie, and a traditional northern Thailand soup called Khao Soi. It’s a coconut noodle soup that comes with pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, ground chillies, and fried noodles as a garnish. My veganized version also had mushrooms and tomato in the soup, but it’s traditionally made with meat. Everything was absolutely delicious and I left ridiculously full. The whole meal cost 285 baht, which is around $8.80 USD.

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Banana smoothie
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Cucumber salad. DELIIIISH
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Honestly one of the best soups I’ve ever had.

I came back, worked on the blog, and then went to bed as I was pretty drained from the day. Tomorrow I will work on making friends.

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