For one month, in November, I traveled around Thailand. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, and Koh Chang. I was never the fast-paced traveler; I like taking my time. I spent an average of one week per destination I went to, but spent 10 days in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai. I have always dreamed of Chiang Mai. I don’t know why. I don’t remember if I had read something about it or heard about it, or seen about it somewhere, but it was just one of those places that seem to beckon at me. Do you ever get that? When, for no reason, a place just seems to be calling at you?
That was Chiang Mai for me. And so you can imagine the bliss I felt when, one morning, after a long-ass bus ride from Bangkok, I finally arrived in Chiang Mai. It was early in the morning, I remember perfectly. And it was quite chilly. At the gas station, where the bus had dropped us passengers off, all the bulging backpacks of young travelers like me were laid on the pavement, as people stood around cozily wrapped in their sweaters.
It was my first day in Chiang Mai and I walked around the city. I walked around aimlessly, like I always do when I travel. I reached the East Gate of the Old City, and there I saw a man with a bicycle giving out hugs to three Western travelers. I took pictures from a distance. I walked away and some more.
On my way back to the gate, though, as I had my video on, he saw me and I saw him. I thought he would just come up to offer me a free hug as he did the others, but as it was my first day in charming Chiang Mai, I got more than just a good hug. I got to hear his wisdom, too. I got most of it on video, which I am sharing with you here now.
Here is our conversation.
I walked back to my hostel that day, so full of life, and light, and inspiration. I thought, this is what I love most about traveling. More than the places, it’s the people, the strangers, the stories. The little things. It’s always the little things.