Chiang Mai 2022 || Sunrise hikes and spa dreams

Last full day in Chiang Mai.

It’s way past midnight and I just chucked in the rest of my stuff inside my luggage. I folded half of them and I just can’t quite muster up the energy to fold them right knowing that I’ll be reopening and possibly repacking all my things when I get to Bangkok. LOL I was just writing that and a notif from Jono came in with “do you have a lot?” (referring to the things I’m packing). If he was female, I would honestly just start talking about how I tend to overpack because I have a tendency to hate my body and how it looks in clothes (and without clothes on, which is making it hard for me to date anyone because being intimate terrifies me now that my entire sense of self-esteem has been warped – ooo my therapist must be so proud I took baby steps in actually acknowledging that. I’ve danced around this topic for so long, I could tell she wanted to just shake me and force me to say that out loud. ANYWAY), so I feel safer with a lot more options in my luggage but I’ll probably just respond with “I overpacked” haha. I find that females (even though they’re almost strangers) relate more to body issues than men do. Even my closest male friends (like Mico) sometimes make well-intentioned comments that stick with me and haunt me whenever I step on the weighing scale (yes, Taylor, it’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me). I don’t think any dude would want to know just how many trains of thoughts this little head can have running all at the same time – busier than Siam station.

Response sent.

I’m so tired but I’m also not that sleepy. I wish I was. Sleeping has been hard for a few years but I’ve noticed during this trip that something about being in anything that’s moving (cars, planes, trains, boats, EVEN MOTORBIKES – you name it) makes me start yawning. Maybe I really am an escapist to the core. Knowing that I’m in transit and headed somewhere (anywhere, really), my body relaxes enough and makes me feel like I can sleep. Huh. I just realized that maybe I developed insomnia in the months leading up to my breakup because I could tell the relationship got stagnant and was no longer moving forward. My sleep went back to normal post-breakup (it even got so much better). And then got worse during the pandemic (when everyone literally got stuck). Hmm. Something to talk to my therapist about when I get back.

Weirdly ironic that I’m still up when I woke up at 3:30 AM today (or yesterday ? – all the days are starting to become a blur). Real-life Teesh is quite content with slow living, but Travel Teesh gets ambitious. The guide (Liw) told me to dress comfortably and maybe bring a jacket because it gets cold (10-15 degrees). Fuck that. I didn’t bring a jacket. So I brought a sweater and wore a cute thin cardigan underneath. I was chatting with Pailin/Tul the other day (I swear, I can’t remember which day it was HAHA), and told them I was doing a sunrise hike to Doi Suthep. When I got to the hotel lobby to wait for the guide at 4 AM, a paper bag with packed breakfast was on it. It had two sandwiches, orange juice, and bottled water. Aww.

I was the first one to be picked up by the guide. And surprise, surprise – most of the people that were part of this tour were honeymooning/doing couple trips. Sometimes, happy couples make me want to fall down the trail lol. All throughout the hike, Liw was chatty (he used to be a novice monk and did that trail quite often). My dude, I have not had coffee yet – you will not get any response from me. And to be quite honest, I don’t remember a lot of it until we got to the top. Because I found out that a lot of people actually just take a car to the temple.. and there was this “cable car” going up. I took the option of taking the cable car instead of walking up some more stairs. I am definitely not that ambitious. When we finally got to the top, it was still quite dark and you can see the skyline.

As I watched the sunrise, I vividly remember the same feeling filling my body at the exact same moment when I watched the sunrise at Angkor Wat at the last leg of my solo Vietnam-Cambodia backpacking trip. It’s so fucking weird to be doing all this alone (not technically, but you know what I mean) and having this fleeting moment of “oh my god I actually fucking did it” that I wish I could just bottle up and drink whenever I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing and have limited life experience. I love my slow boring uneventful life, but god do I love these little pockets of moments in time of feeling triumphant that I pushed myself to be here.

The hike was a blur, and I was probably half asleep the entire time so I don’t remember much from it. But after the sunrise, we made some food offerings to the monks and they made us kneel while we got blessed. I HAVE A WOUNDED KNEE. The pain woke me up. When I got a rib tattoo, I almost fell asleep. But this bruise was bad enough that it was so painful having to get blessed. That monk better blessed me enough just for that alone lol.

I had the guide drop me off somewhere with a good exchange rate because I was running out of cash and I wasn’t sure if my leftover coins can survive Bangkok. I might try to go to Chatuchak Market to do some shopping if I get back early enough tomorrow (later today?). I’m not sure if 2000 baht is enough lol. Anyway, I then went back to the hotel to change into my spa dress (it’s just one of those linen button-up dresses that I don’t have to wear a bra in because 1- we’ve established I hate wearing one and 2- sometimes they don’t wash/towel off the oil they use for the massage and it gets uncomfortable to be in clothes, and I’ve gotten lots of massages while I have this dress on that I only use it now to get a massage LOL). I knew I was gonna get tired from that hike so I got the 4-hour massage from this place called Fah Lanna Spa. This place is quite popular that even Jono had the same idea of booking a package from this spa. We were in the spa around the same time too! My massage started off with a trip to the steam room and I’ve been to saunas before, so I should have been fine. But for some reason, 10 minutes in, I started having a hard time breathing that I had to leave. The sign of an amazing massage is when time becomes a blur. I half pass out, and I get into a spa coma. And that’s literally what happened. One moment I was laying down on the spa bed, and the next, the masseuse was waking me up at 5 PM and telling me that the massage is over. Really good massage places are a time portal. So this spa place – I highly recommend it. (Plus, I remember at one point when I was soaking in the milk bath with a shit ton of rose petals in it – having this fantasy of being on my honeymoon and getting 4-hour massages with a husband I’ll possibly never have and having so much fun sharing the experience of passing out in the spa lol and adding another thing to this secret list on my Notes app that I would rather DIE than be leaked to anyone I know haha)

I had a dinner reservation at 6 PM that I totally forgot to take note of when I booked this long-ass massage I really just changed into a cute pair of heels (that I can walk miles in), and random pair of clothes that looked cute together, and booked a bike to my dinner. I had the 15-course meal at Cuisine de Garden, along with the wine pairing. It was quite good! I’m bad at describing food because I can only do yummy/bleh, but most of it was dishes I would eat again in a heartbeat. At least 75% was great!

I had a moment during dinner when I felt a bit emotional. I can’t believe that I actually do this, you know. Spoil myself with fine dining restaurants. Make reservations for me. And simply exist and have the best time while I’m at it. I’ve never had any dude try to spoil me because while I dress and look feminine, I’ve never been a soft girl. I’ve been raised to do things for myself – and at this moment, I like that I’m able to.

I had been in contact with Jono and Erin separately during this time. This two are so weird. They took a car ride together but never exchanged their details. I actually thought they maybe hit it off while we were all on the food tour because they kept talking to each other. There were other people on the tour that was also from Australia, and maybe it’s my nuanced take that I would usually gravitate to either other Filipinos/other Asians when I chance upon them, that when he kinda just talked to Erin alone, I immediately went YES, that’s who I’m betting for. I think I’ve written down before that I make internal bets of which solo travelers will couple up by the end of the tour and at the first half of the food tour, I made an internal bet that these two would. Ugh, I hate losing (even if it’s against myself lol).

It took a while to get a bike from the restaurant to the market. I think at one point they changed markets because it was, in Jono’s words, boring. When I finally got to Anusorn Market, both of them had already walked through it and found a spot. There were too many western tourists in the market, and maybe I’m severely prejudiced because of my experience with all the tourist spots but I immediately thought “hmm maybe nothing good to eat is in this market” lol. I wanted to do another walkthrough but felt too shy to ask if we can. Erin did say though that it was mostly clothes, and we both agreed that Asian sizing can hurt your pride if you’re not petite enough for them (this is what I meant about females and body issues!).

We then took a car ride to another busy food market (it was one of those gates, I’m sure. UPDATE: Jono confirmed it was the South gate) and sampled some of the items. I had charcoal-flavored jelly and coconut jelly. I only finished the latter and had to throw away half of the charcoal one, because why. During the degustation dinner at CDG, they had this dish with longgan charcoal sauce in it that I found yummy, so I thought it would be the same. It was not haha, but it was ok. I guess I was also just too full to enjoy it.

I wanted to see the lights at the Tha Pae (East Gate) because the last time I went, they were still setting them up. So I started walking to see it. Jono went back to his hotel but gave us instructions on how to get there (this dude is weirdly good at navigating – it always amazes me when I meet this kind of people), while Erin and I walked to the gate together. We talked about life back at home, rats/roaches/among other pests (she’s from Boston, previously Wisconsin, and have seen her fair share of pests). Our previous and future travel plans, how traveling is like when you’re a solo female traveler – and it’s always been fascinating to me how you can be from opposite sides of the world, and still have shared experiences. She gave me pointers on dipping my toes in with travel to Central America before I go do my dream of traveling to South America. She went to Argentina and had the nicest experiences. I’ve always wanted to do Peru and Bolivia – none of my friends wanna go, it would probably be safer to go with a partner which I don’t foresee I’ll have in the near future, so I’ll probably see it alone. Fuck how could that sound lonely and exciting at the same time hahaha!

When Erin and I finally got to the East Gate, the lights have already been turned off because it was already too late. A bit of a bummer because I wanted to see them all lit up. Initially, I wanted to ask Erin and Jono if they wanted to check out this cafe/bar that was on my list that seemed cool. But given that they both seemed tired and not into cafes as much as I am, I chickened out of asking hahaha. I booked a bike to Mars.cnx and omg, it truly was the right choice to still go. The cafe was already closed (they close pretty early), but the bar at the back was a nice otherworldly experience. They had smoke (ugh mind isn’t working – one of those dry ice things I bet) and the design of the place was just A+. The music was good too. It was one of those places I kinda wished I could have spent time in with a friend/anyone because I would like to gush about the environment with someone. I ordered a mocktail (can’t get any more alcohol in my system after 5 glasses of wine – Travel Teesh is 31 after all) but I wish I could have hanged out over there more. I would have if the bartender was chatty, but they don’t seem to speak much English, so I left after taking a shit ton of photos and finishing my one drink.

Overall, it was a good last day. The feels of leaving Chiang Mai and my trip almost being done hasn’t hit yet. But finally, the drowsiness has kicked in and I’m just fighting my eyelids to stay open to finish this because I’m on a roll ey. Good night!

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