Happy times

It took me a full week to bounce back and start feeling like myself again. That week was a very, very long week. But there were some bright moments, such as the great Sunday I spent checking out the Sunday Walking Street for the first time with the two British backpackers I had befriended at Zoe in Yellow the previous Thursday night. It’s pretty easy to talk to random travellers here, and hanging out with those two girls was great fun. The Sunday Walking Street is truly wonderful by the way, the best market I’ve ever visited – and I say that having been to many, many markets over the years. But I’ll dedicate a future post to the Sunday Walking Street later and take lots of pictures to illustrate.

It was at some point on Thursday afternoon that I realised that I felt like my old self again. The black clouds that had been hanging over me suddenly disappeared. Well, not ‘suddenly’ – I had lots of support from absent friends which made a huge difference. And I guess grief is just something you have to experience, until it ebbs.

Since I recovered my joie de vivre, my life here in Chiang Mai has been crowded with lots of happy times which I appreciate all the more because of my recent bout of down time. Like after-work ice-cream at Swensen’s with my lovely workmates, dinner at Blue Diamond in the Old City with a returned friend, and visiting a second-hand bookshop and finding a treasure trove of titles, many that I’ve been wanting to read. I can’t express how totally thrilled I am about the books that one can get a hold of here which will make the book club I’m about to start very easy. The other night I bought The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, Amsterdam by Ian McEwan, Back when we were grownups by Anne Tyler, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, Vietnamese for Beginners. Yes, that’s right – I bought a Vietnamese language book. I’ve decided to master reading and writing once and for all, so alongside my studies in Thai, I’m going to work on my Vietnamese. Because guess what? I’m going there in December for the first time ever – yes, it’s booked in. We’re going to Vietnam!

Other recent highlights include watching Robin Hood – the perfect caramelised butter popcorn flick, hanging out with another random bunch of international travellers on Saturday night, and cooking Sunday dinner for my Colombian neighbor. My attempt at cooking something that suited her ayurvedic diet was a total success. I created a simple new recipe: a stir fry consisting of shallow-fried tofu strips, fresh oyster mushrooms, basil and coriander served with lettuce leaves and thin rice noodles. My neighbour showed me how to make a great dressing consisting of olive oil and soy sauce which went perfectly with the meal. She also brought over fresh mangosteen and made a dessert involving papaya and brown sugar which she had learnt to make while living in India. We ate this very delicious meal while watching a great film about food: Ratatouille. It’s one of her favourite movies and I instantly loved it too – but of course, Brad Bird (writer/director), is a total genius. Tonight I went to trivia at Tuskers with a bunch of new Australian Youth Ambassadors who I really liked, and I’ve suggested that we all go out again tomorrow night to see a popular Thai band on tour here called Calories Blah Blah at a groovy bar called Monkey Club. I actually know their music through one of my workmates who, upon request, gave me a bunch of Thai mp3s to listen to soon after I arrived. Calories Blah Blah play pop-rock and aren’t bad – one of their love songs is called “My cheesecake”. The lyrics go, “You’re my cheesecake, you’re my lover” – I mean really, how could I not love a song like that? So life is good again. Not to mention my 100% excitement about my other half arriving on Sunday to join me here. Yay!

Although I’m going well once again, that’s not to say things are going well in Thailand. You may have heard about the situation in Bangkok and it is indeed very grim. I am feeling worried about all of that – there have been too many deaths related to this protest and there seems to be a lot of talk about a civil war looming. It may be alarmist, but I don’t think it is over-stating it to say that the problems in Thai society are very deep-rooted. There are threatening black clouds on the horizon and there’s still a very long way to go before this political crisis is resolved.

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