So today was the longest day of my life, mostly just because it was physically longer in duration since I changed time zones ahha. I woke up at 5 to finish up all my packing, brush my teeth, change etc... And around 7 the manager came up to check my room before giving me the all clear to checkout and get my deposit for my rental room back. Griff, Biggi, Margaux, Hannah and Emma helped me carry my stuff down, and waited with me in the lobby while I checked out. And while I was talking to the manager, Griff got on his bike and rode around the block to find a song tao driver to bring me to the airport, what a legend. His timing was impeccable because just as I got my deposit back and finished checking out, Griff returned with the driver. We loaded my stuff into the back of the song tao, then when I turned around to look at the faces of my dear friends to give them good bye hugs, I just started crying. It was finally hitting me that I was leaving, and even though I was excited for the future, I couldn't help but feel this huge wave of sadness and remorse that my time here with them was ending. And after giving them all hugs, I jumped in the song tao and just started balling my eyes into my flannel shirt. I swear my period is coming cuz I have just been so emotional lately ahahha. Anyways, after I calmed down, I just sat and looked through photos with a smile on my face, and before I knew it we were outside the Chiang Mai airport. I was super early for my 10am flight since it was barely 8, but my check in counter was open, so I checked my bags in, then went to the Bangkok airline lounge where I ate my weight in their blackbean sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. They were so fucking tasty I took 2 in my pocket when I left ahah. Then I called Bonny just to catch up and it was wonderful seeing her smiling face again and hearing her voice. I chilled in the lounge sipping Orange Juice and writing a little blurb about Chiang Mai until it was time to go through security and get to my boarding gate. After waiting at the gate, I boarded my flight, and man oh man were the flight attendants so kind. They all had such genuine beautiful smiles, and were so accomodating. I just love Thai people and thai culture. I love the palms together bowing motion they always use, I love their humble kind manner, and I love their softness. I had a fruit platter on my flight which was basically a plate of melon and like 4 grapes. I love how that's comparable to a meal, man people for the most part just have zero clues about how much fruit you need to eat for it to substantiate a meal ahha. The flight was just a short 1 hour trip, and after a smooth landing we boarded the transport bus which took us back to Bangkok airport. On the bus I saw a girl smiling so I smiled back, and she then told me that she actually follows me on Instagram! She said it was crazy cuz she only follows 300 people, and that she had actually spotted me in the lounge back in Chiang Mai but was too shy to say anything. Her name is Holly and she was in CM for 4 days for hour honeymoon and she absolutely loved it as well. Turns out she actually lives in OC Cali, so I told her she needed to come down to LA when I'm there and come to a meetup or something. Man it's crazy how small the world is eh? the rest of my time in Bangkok (6 hours) went off without a hitch. Got my bags, got wifi, messaged friends, called Griff, ate 4 portions of overpriced mango sticky rice, bought 2 extra serves for later, then ran into a predicament. So I realized that the one issue with travelling alone with a bike box, is going pee.... So if you have a friend with you then they can watch your bike box no worries, or if you're travelling with just bags, you can bring them with you into the toilet, also no worries. But on your own, with a bike box, and a small bladder = not ideal. So my solution was to just go to my check in counter, check my bags in early, so I'd be free to go pee. It's so funny the looks I get with that bike box, so many people just assume it's like a flat screen TV ahah. But fuck the line was so much longer than I thought it would be, and by the time I was halfway through the line I was bustingggg! By the time it was my turn I actually thought I was gonna pee my pants. I was watching all her movements like a hawk, and I swear it seemed like she was putting the stickers on slowly just to taunt my bursting bladder ahahha but of course she wasn't. But to me it was like she was moving through molasses lol. Anyways after she gave me my boarding passes and everything was done I thought I was home free to just sprint to the toilet, but she then tells me I have to bring my bike to the otherside of the floor to oversize baggage check in, and my heart sunk. I decided I just couldn't wait that long, so I just raced to the toilet with my bike box, found a janitor, and asked if she could please watch my box while I peed. She just smiled and nodded, and man that was the best feeling ever when I finally got to pee haha. After I was so grateful to her that I gave her my clif bar, I hope she loves it, it was the white choc macadamia flavour :P
And after going through security, passport control, and immigration, I was through! All the airport staff always speak to me in thai first, and when they see my perplexed face, switch to english after that ahha, I guess I really do look thai to them. Our flight was delayed so I ended up waiting at the gate for ages, but I used that time to pee, eat one of my mango sticky rice portions, catch up with Em, Johnnie and Michelle through FB. And when the plane arrived, I got on board and had the most pleasant experience flying with China Airlines. First of all I can communicate fully with them in both Mandarin and English which is handy, and they were just so accomodating. The water they were serving was tap water, and I just asked very politely if it was possible to get some bottled water since I was drinking lots of the water, and the flight attendant went to the business class section and brought me back a huge 1L bottle! I also was planning on editing on the flight, but man I was zonked and couldn't be bothered so I watched Little Miss Sunshine instead. I'd never seen it before and it was the cutest movie, I just loved it. The food I ordered was a veg oriental meal, and all I ended up eating from it was the fruit since the rice and veggies smelt like fish... ahah but it's all good cuz I wasn't too hungry after all the mango sticky rice I ate at the airport. And after about 5 hours, we landed in Taipei. I have to say that the Taipei airport is one of the most well organized, signposted airports I've ever been to. Right when I landed I knew exactly where to go to catch my transfer flight, which is good cuz it was a tight layover. Our flight was late so I had around 30 minutes to find my gate. I had to switch terminals, and to do so I took a neat little skytrain, which was a first for me at an airport.
I ended up making it to my gate right as they started boarding so it was just perfect timing. But man, just from walking through the airport, I already know I want to come back to Taiwan. I'm not sure why but I just really like the general vibe of it :) So I pretty much boarded right away, but our plane was delayed on the ground for almost TWO hours, but I didn't mind, I just watched a movie and ate my last and sixth serve of mango sticky rice for the day. And after we finally took off, they served a meal and I actually ate my meal, and it was really pretty decent. I had a serving of fruit, this bean sprout veggie seseme oil salad, orange juice, rice with mushroom/veg in black bean soy sauce, and this amazing rice pudding sort of ball for dessert.
I was quite impressed, and pretty fucking full. I swear mango sticky rice is so much more filling than I suspected, mostly because I pour on all that delicious coconut sauce, and because sticky rice is quite dense, so after that I was really quite satisfied. I finished watching Imitation game, then tried to sleep for a few hours, but I mean you know how it is trying to sleep on planes... next to impossible. It's just so loud, cramped, and I get so dehydrated and stuffed up, so I mostly just had an hour of two of sleep before just sitting with my eyes closed. But I was happy to be on my last flight home and almost able to see my family and the sight of my own bed again! WOOT! Then about 3 hours before landing, they served breakfast which I thought was not bad as well. They had chinese steamed buns, fruit, rice porridge, and juice. I asked for a few extra steamed buns and they were very obliging. And finally after arriving 2 hours late, finding my bags and finding the exit I saw my mom waiting outside for me and went and gave her a huge hug. Then we went and got so much take out sushi for me since I was still hungry, and of course went on a hunt for cereal. I got the most amazing gorilla munch and kashi cinnamon cereal, and came home and just feasted on 5 rolls of sushi and inari, then had 6 huge bowls of cereal with bananas, fresh blueberries, maple syrup and soy milk NOMMMMM.
Then at 12, after being awake for like 40 hours, I fucking passed the fuck out ahha.
Anyways, it was a long arduous day that ended with me hugging my mama good night for the first time in almost a year. But I do miss CM. Here's a little blurb I wrote about that magical place:
Chiang Mai holds a special place in my heart. This city is where I really began to grow, where my journey really began. It's where I fell in love. Fell in love with people, life, cycling, and myself. It's where I met some of the most humble unique gems and formed the most genuine and dear friendships. It's where I felt pure bliss and contentment for the first time. It's where I feasted on pad thai, pumpkin curry, overdosed on sweet chilli sauce, and drooled over mango sticky rice. It's where I found my passion for adventure, exploration and conquering mountains. It's where I laughed till I cried, cried till I laughed, and loved till I felt so alive it hurt. It's where I felt and overcame insurmountable pain both physically and emotionally. And honestly, it's where I feel like I truly started living. Living my life for me and no one else. It's where I began to know myself and love myself. It's where I began just unapologetically being ME, and I've never been happier.
Everyone that I've met along my journey has helped shape and mold me into who I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful. I love you all. And I love you Chiang Mai. I'm leaving today, but I'll see you in two months <3