Chaing Mai, North Thailand

We had taken an overnight bus here. Our bags were raided, but being streetwise, we had nothing in there for these thieving scammers. It’s not like this all the time, Asia has been really good to us, but you meet fellow travellers, and they warn you in advance. It is so disappointing really. I had tied my bagback straps a certain way just to test this. We got off the bus in the morning, and instantly knew they had been rummaging through our kit. Well there was nothing worth taking, but it still disappoints and make you feel … I’m sure violated is too strong a word, but it definately makes you feel slightly compromised. They also dropped us off at a petrol station 8km’s outside the city. Thankfully, there was transport awaiting us. What a well organised scam. Just enough spaces to take every passenger into the city for an extra 40 Bhat (80p). I wish I had taken the lead on this and had a go with the bus driver and the rest of the staff, but everyone was so weary from the journey, we just paid, and be done with it.

We had a great leaving party in Bangkok. Probably with aquantances we will never see in our lives again. There have been some great characters along the way, but some have become very special in our hearts. Apart from Denis, and our Dutch daughters, and also Micheal from Germany, Gabriella turned up. We met this middle aged woman from Turin, Italy some months ago, and she really is a star. Now on her way to do trekking in Nepal, and I wish we were going with her.

Anyways, we are enjoying the 2nd biggest city in Thailand. Although, it really did become all “Same Same”, and I could tell that Michelle and I were becoming slightly bored. We had spent 7 weeks with the kids having a great time, but they are trying to pack as much in as possible into such a small timeframe, that we really cannot keep the pace, and realise we have just lost the enthusiasm all of a sudden for constant travel.

When I say, all of a sudden, I know in reality it has been creeping in for a good few weeks, if not a month or so. I think I lost the motivation after Burma, and to be honest, only Angkor in Cambodia has really set me on fire. After that, it just become day to day, living out of a bag, and doing the same old tired things. You can just get to much of a good thing, and this has been a truly wonderful experience, but maybe this long on the road has just taken it’s toll.

Notwithstanding the Asian way of life, the travelling people we have met have been really inspiring, ranging from young graduates on a year out, to those having a middled aged mid life crisis, to older people, that have done this all before – without mobile phones, lonely planet guides or internet. Possibly the most interesting of this bunch, with a whole life of stories that grip you like a good movie or novel.

It became decision time.

We decided together, rather than keep on going, it would be best to get back home now, see all our family and friends, and get rejuvinated for China, Laos, Thailand (properly) and perhaps the east coast of Malaysia.

It’s a hard life, I know. We know how lucky we are to be in this position. But truth be told, real life is beckoning, and the pressure is rising somewhat. It’s not for everbody, but some demons have been excercised here, and we really have had a ball. In reality, I want to keep going, but we promised we would stick together, and if one of us ever became unhappy, then we have to bite the bullet, and go with the consensus.

Since we have booked the flight back home, I must say that I am now ready, and these last days here have become a bit laborious.

Especially more so now that Stacey and Mark have left a couple of days ago to hit Laos – and hit Laos hard. Laos is always difficult to travel, the buses are old and decaying, frequently breakdown, and makes for slow, ardous progress. The rewards are great however, as we have yet to meet any traveller that has not raved about the place, the people, and the culture. So it will be good to hear how the kids get on, and leave this little gem for the future. We need at least a month in any country, but doing it in less than 3 weeks just seemed too rushed for us.

Staying in Chaing Mai for over a week now, me and M have discovered some great little nooks and crannies. Favoutite haunts, whiling the time away over a game of Chess, or a game of pool, or just simply chilling and watching the world go by. The place has a bit of a seedy side, not out and out seedy, but definately and undercurrent at night.

We have woke up this morning, and decided to go to Pai. It’s about 2 hours away further north, but has had great raves from everyone we have met. So, maybe chill out here for a few days and take in the last bit of Thai culture before heading back to big big smoke, Bangkok.

Then it will be home time, and we just can’t wait to see everyone, and get some of the food we have been craving for months and months.

As I sit and type this, I am now sitting on the porch of a jungle bungalow in Pai, North Thailand. We made the move this morning, it actually took 4 hours in a minibus through long winding roads. One of the worst journeys I have ever encountered. I still feel slightly queezy, but M is in bed having been sick in a plastic bag for most of that journey.

The setting here is rural, with thatched bamboo bungalows, and landscaped gardens overlooking a muddy greenish river. The rain is pouring down, but it really sets off the lush green tropicana. Already, we have bumped into people we have met before, and they are raving about this place. It’s all very friendly, and you can feel the camradery.

I feel like we are travelling properly again, and just for this single moment, I am regretting booking that flight home.

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