Friday, January 23, 2009

Advice for aspiring travelers (revised)

OK, here's how you come to Thailand in 10 easy steps:

1. Don't bring anything but a camera, two shirts, two pairs of pants, money and a backpack.

2. When you get to Bangkok, go directly to Hualamphong and catch the next train to Chiang Mai. Do not go to Khao San road, do not get into a tuk-tuk. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

3. In Chiang Mai, skip the fancy hotels, book a room in a guest house – all you need is a bed and a shower – and get some sleep.

4. When you wake up, drink some dark coffee, head for the nearest travel spot and rent a scooter. Drive around the city for a bit, get used to the traffic and then head out (any direction will do – the point is to get lost).

5. Invariably you will pass a fruit stand. Buy a bag of oranges or any fruit of your choosing – maybe even something you don't recognize. Smile a lot, thank the vendor and get back on your bike.

6. Stop at some point and eat some fruit.

7. Drive until the road ends, turn off your bike, close your eyes and listen to the silence. Breathe deep and realize you are in the middle of nowhere in the most beautiful country in the world.

8. Breathe deep again.

9. Smile.

10. Repeat.

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