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Published: April 4th 2019
The night bus took me to Chiang Mai in 10 hours. Half way it stopped, so we could get some food. I didn't really know how it worked, so I just got in line with some others. When it was my turn I could choose a drink. Then I went to the food counter, but they signed that I already used my ticket. I saw the girl that sat next to me in the bus, so I tried to ask her. She didn't speak english, but she got what I meant. She walked with me to the drinks counter and probably explained the guy I didn't know the system. I gave back the drink and he gave me back the ticket. Then I had to walk to the food counter where I got noodle soup (there was just 1 option) Being super hungry, I was happy with anything. When I ate half of my plate, the girl had used google translator to explain that the bus was gonna leave in 2 minutes, then she got up and left. Since I couldn't see the bus from the restaurant and didn't know if the driver would wait or not I freaked out a
bit. I took a few more quick bites (I'm getting better at eating with sticks!) and walked back to the bus. Only to find out I could have eaten the entire soup, because they left like 10 minutes later. Anyway, better safe than sorry..
I arrived in Chiang Mai really early in the morning. It was already my birthday! I realized I never celebrated it without familiar people around me. I mean, I know it's just a day, but so is christmas. I still like to celebrate it! To avoid the tuk tuk scam, I walked to the hostel. It was much further away than I thought! Anyway it was still early, so I couldn't check in yet. Even when I arrived at the hostel the reception was still closed. An hour or two later they opened and luckily I could go directly to the room. I took a nap first. I was tired from the busride, the hour walk and the waiting in the reception.
When I woke up I checked the couchsurfing hangout. This is an option in the couchsurfing app where you can find other couchsurfers around you and arrange to meet up. Eventually we
formed a group of 4 people (Mehdi was one of them) and met at a park in the centre. After walking around for a while, we stopped to have some food. I had a veggie khao soi and it was so delicious!! I will definitely try to make this when I'm back home. When everyone finished, someone brought a chocolate brownie and they started singing "happy birthday". I really didn't expect anything, so it was a nice surprise.
Later that evening, we formed another group on hangout and we met at a rooftop bar. There was a local girl (Yok) who even brought a little present, so cute! We ended up with a group of 8 people, all from different countries. It was a great evening, at a nice place with amazing people.
I planned to go to an elephant sanctuary the next day. It's expensive, but I decided it would be my birthday gift to myself. I'm happy I did my research before actually going. I found out that the sanctuaries are just setups for tourists. After all, the elephants are still in captivity and hidden from the visitors' eye they still don't treat them as good
as we think they do. It's really just a money business. Even though I'm sure this is much better for them than walking the same round in the city every single day, carrying people on their backs, but I just don't want to be an ignorant tourist. I'm not judging anyone either, because if I didn't do my research I probably would've gone too. I just really would like to bring awareness to everyone. Please consider reading the following story from an eyewitness. (be prepared for a 20 minute read, but it's essential to understand what I'm talking about..) https://medium.com/@aydinadnan/what-they-dont-tell-you-about-elephant-sanctuaries-in-thailand-af3e4c9cb886
So instead, I met up with Mehdi and we went to see some temples and had some street food. At one of the temples there was a sign that using buddha for decoration is bad. We laughed about it because actually it's super common in western countries. We also found out that the buddhist calendar is 543 years ahead of ours, which means that they live in the year 2562.
Later that day I met up with Yok and 2 cousins from the evening before (Camilo & Daniel). Yok took us to the Doi Suthep temple. It's on a
mountain where you have to climb a stairs with 309 steps to reach the temple. It's a big and beautiful place. Yok showed me how to use Kau Chim (fortune telling sticks). It's a cup with wooden sticks in it. They all have a different number on them. you shake the cup back and forth until one stick falls out. Then you check the number and on the wall you can find the fortunity note with the same number on it.
We walked to the viewpoint, where you could see the city and stayed there until it was dark. Then we drove back to the city and went to a market to grab some food. Later we had a drink and then it was time to go back to the hostel. I was leaving the next day early in the morning.
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