I've been lounging in Bangkok for the last 10 days. It's been delightful. I've spent a lot of time just hanging out with friends I taught with at AIS. I'll miss them as they head off - either back to Myanmar or to the U.S. The good news, we'll be reunited in December in Ohio, so it was easy to say "see you later".
I've been eating great food. Yesterday was typical. Grilled chicken and baby octopus from the street, along with some green mango (with salt, sugar, and ground chile for dipping) was delicious and cheap. About $2 for a lot of flavor. I found a recipe online that I'm going to try at home for grilled Thai chicken. I'd love to be able to replicate it.
This morning I'm off to Chiang Mai. The first time I came to SE Asia, years ago, it was to visit Chiang Mai. I loved it then and am anxious to see how I feel when I return there. During my first visit, my friend and I gawked and giggled when we saw a monk on a motorbike. We loved the cooking class, learning about exotic ingredients like galangal and lemongrass. We awed over the beauty of the wats. And we shopped like mad women at the night market.
Now, I've lived and traveled in S.E. Asia for 2 1/2 years. What was new and amazing then is routine now. And Myanmar is more "authentic" in terms of culture. There are still very few foreigners as compared to Chiang Mai which has a large expat community and lots of tourists. I hope my expectations are set at the right level.
I'm looking forward to a city smaller than Bangkok. Looking forward to Thai culture and food but with plenty of Western amenities. Not planning to visit elephants or tigers but am looking forward to the orchid farm.
I'm mostly looking forward to more time for reflection, relaxation and just being in the present. I'm not sure how long I'll be in Chiang Mai. It could be a week or two. Then back to Bangkok for a night and on to my 71st country, Vietnam. At this point, only one date is firm. I'll be boarding a flight from Bangkok to Orlando, via Guangzhou and New York on November 15, 2015.