Today I left Pai and left some friends that I grew quite fond of over our time together on the backpacker trail. Pai and its motorbike adventures will be missed but hopefully I will have the opportunity to ride a motorbike once more in Southeast Asia; transportation will never quite be the same after that experience. But at the end of the day the show must go on; I would love to hang out and relax in Pai for another week or more but the road beckons, spurs me forward with whispers of more culture, food, and exploration. After rising in the morning by swearing to the gods for creating such fowl creatures, I said goodbye to my traveling buddies. Before leaving Pai altogether I had to buy my minivan ticket and pass the time at a local coffee shop with some Pad Thai, one of the mildest dishes in Thai cuisine (an absolute must from last night; I can still feel the streaks of flame on my palate). When the time arrived I boarded the minivan destined for Chiang Mai. My plan was to get to Chiang Mai and somehow buy a train ticket to Lopburi, a small city north of Bangkok known for its resident wild monkeys, that would arrive there the following early morning. As I had explained earlier, the road between Chiang Mai and Pai is a mountainous beast with too many turns that beg digestive reversal. To make matters worse, Thai drivers love to drive fast and recklessly. Our driver passed traffic on a consistent basis, too impatient for even an oncoming curve where views of opposing traffic were minimal at best. To put it nicely the minivan full of thirteen or so passengers was a rolling death trap. The travel gods blessed us this day, delivering me into Chiang Mai without a scratch despite the seemingly numerous close calls. Once in Chiang Mai, I went to the ticket office to see what path I would take. I could have walked a solid 30 minutes to the train station with an hour or so to spare till the last departure or buy a ticket to Bangkok. As indecisive as I am, I have to make decisions quickly when many cases I am hard pressed for time and hope for the best, rolling with whatever outcome meets me. In the end, I bought the ticket to Bangkok, which should arrive at four in the morning and from there I can get a ticket to Lopburi. The ticket was much cheaper than what I purchased to come to Chiang Mai and didn’t involve a Thai man hopped up on a heavy dose of rage. How else would I know after arriving to Thailand three days prior to that chaos? With some time and seasoning, anyone can learn the ropes of the road and morph into a veteran traveler. So for the time being, I have a ten hour bus ride through the night to look forward to, sleep be damned.
Thailand Day 65: The Show Must Go On