Read the second week of Chelsea's trip here
I left the life of comfort behind me today and have found myself alone again, back in a hostel. Any friends I had here in Bali have gone back home and I am once again a solo traveller. Walking into my new hostel this morning, I was greeted by fellow lone wanderers and remembered for the first time in two weeks why I fell in love with traveling solo. There’s this vitality that hovers in the air, and it allows me to do things I would never do at home, like ask a stranger to join me for dinner, coffee or a lady boy show. At every hostel on this trip, I have found the same thing occurs; you quickly create a hostel family, even if you are there only for a few days, and do everything together.
I was lucky enough to end up in a great hostel in Echo Beach where I quickly made friends with its other residents. As fate would have it, mostly all girls were staying at this place and we all rapidly became the most awesome girl gang you’d ever seen. I felt like I was in some laid-back sorority where we want to be together all the time but there is zero judgement and tons of laughing. Our mornings together were usually spent doing yoga followed by a long chatty breakfast then some time at the beach. Later, we would all go out to a nice dinner then end the evenings with some shameless dancing. The feminine energy was at an all time high and I cherished every second of it.
I found my time with these girls to be very nurturing. At home I have a lot of male friends so it was a nice change of pace to be surrounded by such fun and independent women from so many different walks of life. Once again, I felt my heartstrings being pulled toward Bali as every experience I’ve had here has been so positive and life changing. This place has opened my heart in more ways than expected and I knew how hard it would be to leave in just a few short days. But I put on my big girl pants and hopped on the plane with every intention of somehow being back in magic town within the next six months. Just setting intentions left and right you guys. Next stop, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Stepping off the plane, I was ready for the slightly less busy and more beautiful Chiang Mai. I had to do another day in Bangkok as a layover and was once again overwhelmed by the chaos and smells of this city. Chiang Mai is a beautiful place but busier than I thought it would be. I was thrown off my first few days here, unable to shake off that island lifestyle that was definitely hanging onto every inch of my being like some very welcomed parasite.
I couldn’t find my groove here, I still can’t find it and that’s ok, because that is travelling. The five days I had in Chiang Mai coincidentally happened to be the same five days as Thailand’s late King’s funeral. Most shops were either closed or closed early everyday and no music was allowed during this time. I believe my lack of groove was in part due to the very present mourning energy that filled the air of this country as they loved their king dearly. Either way, I would happily come back and give it another go but until then make the best of my time here.
One thing is for sure, the food is amazing in northern Thailand. I was eating delicious meals everyday that blew my mind. If you’re ever in Chiang Mai you must try the Khao Soi, a traditional northern dish which is basically a curry soup. It's incredible, I had my vegetarian but you do you. Also, the Night Bazaar is a must see especially if you’re into some shopping and that is also the place where I saw the most glorious drag show of my life. Those ladies have talent! It was truly a beautiful and jaw dropping show. My days were also spent exploring the various and beautiful temples this city has to offer.
I would say the highlight of my trip to Chiang Mai would be visiting the elephant sanctuary. I found a cruelty-free elephant farm which is so important as you don’t want to ride the elephants. Would you like having ignorant tourists ride you everyday? Probably not. At this sanctuary, we got to feed the elephants, take them on an amazing jungle hike and swim with them in the river. I felt like I was living my truest life when I spent time with these gorgeous creatures. They are so gentle and sweet, plus their forehead hairs make me cry happy tears, I simply can’t take how cute they are. If you head up north in Thailand, I would say that this is the number one of things to do. Oh, and don’t be a creep and pay to have your picture taken with drugged up tigers. Be like me and revolt.
Soon, I head down south to the Islands of Thailand. Time went by so slow at the beginning of my travels and now it's running by so fast I can’t keep up. I had unexpectedly spent so much time in Bali that I will have to cut my time short in Thailand before I head to Vietnam. So many islands to choose from but I must choose wisely. My goal is to go somewhere where I can fiesta a little bit but still get to bed at a reasonable hour to do yoga in the morning. We’ll see if such a paradise actually exists in these parts.
Ok, one last photo of a baby elephant before I leave you…
Have you ever traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand?
Comment below to tell us your experience!