“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
Jan 9th, 2015
Surprisingly, about one hour later the truck stopped again, the kind old man stepped out and said to me with his regular mild smile:”Let’s have dinner. I think it will take more time to arrive in Chiangmai.” I jumped down and assured him that I was ok and would have dinner once we arrived in Chiangmai. From his smile I could see that he obviously had expected this answer, so he said gladly:”Don’t worry! My treat! I pay for you.” I tried to refuse but he made a hand gesture of “it’s settled.” I wanted to take my backpack with me but he said that it was ok and no one would steal it, so I left it in the trailer. We walked into this big joint which luckily did not look expensive and he ordered some noodles for me. It cost about one USD as I could remember. The feeling of having warm food inside my belly made me happy and I was ready for another leg of tough ride. When we went back to the truck, my backpack was indeed still there and we set out again!
I remembered one day I saw the Facebook post of a friend of mine who was hitchhiking in Latin-America. She arrived in that country in the evening and hitchhiked a truck. Like me, she had to stand in the trailer of the truck and the wind was FREEZING cold. She posted:”This is life, the freaking life!” Oh now I felt that it was so well said. This was the freaking life, and enjoy! 😉
As I told him in advance that I would stay in a Buddhist monastery, so when we finally arrived in Chiangmai at about 10pm, he stopped his truck in front of one, which was not in the touristic area . Yes! We finally arrived in Chiangmai! It’s dark, still drizzling and the rain becoming heavier from time to time. I thanked for the ride and walked into the temple. There was no locked gate. I walked simply in. The leaves on the trees were shinning with water and the air was filled with the dense but gentle noise of thin raindrops patting the fat green leaves. Through the trees I saw a temple hall. No sooner I walked towards the hall than some ferocious dogs, dark furred, suddenly jumped out from nowhere and started their intimidating barking. According to my experiences, they were the number ONE obstacle of staying in Buddhist monasteries…… I tried to calm them down and at the same time I was shouting “Sabadikam” more and more loudly, in the hope that some monks would hear me. Nope, nobody came up and I had a good look at this place again under the dim yellow light, which was partly shadowed by the now dark-looking thick trees. This place looked more like just a temple than a proper monastery. Probably nobody even lived here and it was only for praying. I was sure enough of this conclusion that I left and made the plan of looking for a cheap hostel. I eventually found a cafe where I used their free wifi and found the cheapest hostel which was not of a ridiculously far distance. The waiter working there had a serious face but he was very nice and kindly helped me with the directions. I headed for this place, which would be about 45 min walking. “With my big backpack and the darkness and rain, it would take surely longer than that.” I thought. That was right! I got lost a couple of times on the way and got helped by locals again and again. This hostel turned out to be in a perfectly hidden corner, so hidden that you would think that the owner did it in perfect sane condition so nobody could find it. There were tourists filling all the bars, restaurants in that neighbourhood. It was touristic, very, similar with Bangkok. When I finally found it, it was already about half past eleven. I was totally wet, cold and tired when I entered the gate, passed the dark green tropical trees in the yard, and arrived in front of the door of the reception room, which was …… CLOSED! What? They did not have 24-hour reception?!…… Right! They did not have that! When I was just saying to myself:”No! No! That’s not true, please!” A scene in the movie “Run Lola Run” came into my mind spontaneously — Lola robbed a bank and when she came out there were a squad of armed policemen already waiting. She could not believe her eyes — so I repeated what she said then to herself:”Nein! Das kann nicht!” “Are you looking for the reception?” A voice came from my right side. That was a young dude in a white T-shirt who was at the door of the room next to the reception. I supposed that he was a lodger of this guest house. Behind him there were a blonde girl and some other dudes talking. “Yes. I found this place with so many troubles and the reception is closed!” He smiled again:”Yes, the reception closes at about 11pm. You need a place to sleep? You can stay with my friends in their room. I am sure they are ok with that.” So I was then introduced to the whole group. They were all from Australia. The friendly dude talking to me and his girlfriend stayed in one room and the other two male friends of them stayed in another room, the one next to the reception. The two dudes were totally fine with me sharing the room with them. One of the two dudes looked pretty drunk but he was so friendly and tried all his best to help. I had a HOT SHOWER there! It was DIVINE!
–“So Wei, sorry but we have only one bed but I think it’s big enough for 3 of us if you don’t mind.”
–“Of course I don’t mind, man! I don’t need much space.”
–“I am sorry that we have only one blanket, but I suppose it will do for 3 of us, if you are ok with that.” He shrugged with a sorry face.
–“Eh…… I have to tell you, man. I have the bad habit of stealing blankets when I was asleep…… I used to share blankets with my cousin when I was a teenager and he often caught a cold the next day because the blankets were all stolen by me at night…… No worries man. I have a sleeping bag!”
The next time when I saw the tropical trees of the yard again, it was already the next morning.
Life was a magician full of surprises, wasn’t it? 😉