New Year in Chiang Mai

In a blink of an eye, 2012 has come and gone and we spent its last day biking around Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The weather is all sunshine and blue skies and it’s been such a contrast to our time in Bangkok. I really should change the subtitle of this blog to something travel related… Because my current state of mind can only keep updated with the happenings of the world but reality here, before me has captured all my attention, in the most delightful way.

New Year’s Eve was spent by the side of a river marking the eastern old city wall here, with friends and strangers alike joining in the celebration. Skies were remarkably clear with just the right amount of wind to fill all that we could see with the glows of wish lanterns. People would cheer when a lantern took flight and shout words of encouragement in cases of unsteady progress. “C’mon, just a bit higher!” “Gogogo!” The countdown took place in a crowded square some 5, 10 minutes away and we simply sat enjoying the seemingly endless fireworks flashing in anticipation. No one around us knew when the exact moment was, when that second hand in our time zone proclaimed 2013… But when fireworks continuously exploded right above our heads and cheers echoed down the street, we too toasted in celebration of a brand new year. It was amazing and so completely different from new year’s past. A day later, we still see stray wish lanterns floating on carrying with them another hope, another dream.

The day went by steadily and at one point, I literally fell on my face. It was the excitement of seeing friends again and running with flip flops on uneven grass, they led to my (harhar) downfall. From what I heard and what I remembered, it must have been an epic fall. I now have battle scars from the adventure. All a person can do in that situation is to laugh it off and hope no one caught it on tape, though being a 10 minute YouTube star does have it’s appeal, and definitely not dwell on how completely embarrassing that was. A fellow hostel guest commented that she’d never heard anyone laugh so much after falling. I took it as a compliment.

We saw what a temple is suppose to be like at Doi Suthep, an amazing complex perched above windy roads overlooking the city. Multitudes of believers held lotus blooms and offered prayers for the year to come. The respect simply was, simply existed, and not forced upon visitors by an army of guards. Dancers performed before a captivated audience, adult and children alike. No camera could capture it all.

Now, I am back at the hostel and it’s 2am, Chiang Mai time. 2013 brought with it a promise I’d made to maintain a website of sorts, one new addition per day whether it be post or photo or poem. Though it’s past new year day, I cling to Toronto’s timezone as justification. No lateness here! And even if there were, I would lead yesterday no differently. Many times, I would pick up a pen to write or my electronic device to type, but the people and conversation always deserved my time more, and I knew in the quiet of darkness I could gather my thoughts. With different people we talked about different things, from interracial couples to the weakness in public regulation to the impacts of our choices. At so many points I thought to my journal. So philosophical, what we’re saying! But the words were lost in an overall experience and now, not remembering every detail of many hours here, I let those words sink into my mind like seeds into soil. The ideas, the experience, the friendships, I’ll nurture them all.

Tomorrow, I’ll buy a sketchbook and spend my day in the sun. I’ll climb ‘my’ tree and nap by the river and eat my own weight in food. Nothing but good times ahead!

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