There are few places in the world that, on reflection, can generate such a deep sigh in those who have visited. When you meet local Thai people in other parts of Thailand, often one of the first things they’ll question is whether you’ve been to Chiang Mai, and if not, when?
And so you go, because Thailand couldn’t be truly Thailand without a visit to Chiang Mai.
It was two years ago that I went there and I haven’t been back since, although it’s somewhere I think of often.
The last time I was there I was going through a bit of a rough patch, emotionally. Trying to figure out where I wanted to fit into the crazy world and what everything meant. There was a lot of sadness in my life, but above all there was a lot of happiness and I was becoming more aware of it.
I’m not a spiritual person, but I lit some incense and kneeled, taking a moment to gather my thoughts before I prayed to find happiness in strange places – a weird request, but everything I needed to ask of the universe.
Since then I’ve found it – I’ve found magic in the little things, the things that others might overlook with disappointment or because they’re such a staple of their everyday that they’re taken for granted. I find myself watching leaves blow in the wind and sinking into the melody behind a bird’s song. I meet people and wonder what battles they’re facing deep below and find myself falling in love with the smiles of strangers. I savor things, things I could easily choose not to notice, but I acknowledge them and feel blessed to be aware of them.
That’s what travel does, though. It allows the ordinary to be extraordinary, because it’s foreign and more fleeting than usual. Because travel, for most of us, is a something we know we wont have forever we are more grateful and more aware.
Travel is a heightened state of awareness.
So, I think of this temple and my silly little wish and all of the ways it has shaped and influenced me up until this point. And I think of how much I’d like to return there, sit in the same place, light some new incense and I wonder what blessing I’ll ask for this time around.
Ah, Chiang Mai – You’ve still got me.
Have you been to Chiang Mai? What did you think of it?