Driving, northern Thailand:
Another countryside speeds past me. Green green grass, broken occasionally by watery rice paddies (we think). Green trees, some tall elegant palms, some unknown, and some squat banana fronds with fanning leaves. The sun has been playing peekaboo with the clouds but now it's shining in full force, glimmering off water and shiny waxy leaves, yellow through my sunglasses and warm on my skin. The sky is a light blue, not bright, but easily holds layers of fluffy clouds in suspension. The clouds play with the tips of the mountains in the distance, rugged and deep blue-green, anchoring the horizon.
As we speed by in the back of a red open-air taxi truck, I keep taking out my phone to capture photos. I don't want to miss anything.
- the sun on the hills - check
- the giant gold Buddha - check
- friends sleeping in the cab - check
- a dozen people working in the rice paddy - miss
- the mysterious smoke hanging in the distance - check
- infinite disorganized rundown shacks, sprinkled with mini gold shrines - check
- a market scene as we pass through a town - check
- a large building flanked by jewel-covered gold snakes - miss
Taking it all in fills me up with it, bringing satisfaction, presence, and gratitude. I am here. I wonder if I'm getting a sunburn.
I become aware of 2 sounds - the groan of the taxi tires on the pavement, and the whizz of cars and motorcycles that pass us. I'm glad our driver isn't speeding.
Changes have happened - more signs and billboards; denser, nicer stores; more electricity cables. We are getting close to Chiang Mai. We stop at the first stoplight since we left the waterfall. A Thai boy jay walks across the street, maybe aiming for one of the open eateries lining the road. They remind me of Chile.
Now a cloud formation has moved in front of the sun and sends a spray of light waves glowing through. I want to capture it but the view is interrupted - car dealerships, shrine dealerships, banks, housing, traffic across the small median. We're sharing the road now with semis, tuk tuks, and my favorite dragon- painted trucks. One pickup truck holds a mass of people standing in the back, smiles on. We turn onto a smaller road, nearing our hostel. We're tired, damp, counting our mosquito bites, and content.