Thailand – everything sabai ?!

Km 8950 – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Author: Jana


  • We had decided to take a longer break from cycling, to stay longer in one place. Therefore, right after the Laos border we take the nightbus – directly to Chiang Mai.

  • 20 Millions of tourists come to Thailand every year. An unimaginable mass of people. Because of the protests in Bangkok, there supposedly will be 400.000 people less this year. So just 19.6 Million people left – what a calming thought. In spite of the many tourists the Thais and most of the travellers are pretty „sabai“. This Thai word is important if you would like to understand the Thai people. There is no direct translation. „Carefree“ or better „not finding so many problems (like Westerners)“ explains an expat who got stuck in Chiang Mai 20 years ago.

  • The TV programme Quarks & Co (from the German TV channel WDR) had a nice episode about time. In spite of all of today’s technology which helps us save time (faster cars, computers, etc.), we don’t have more time. Because we fill the free time gained with further activities – with more. Did we use one hour to drive 60 kilometers in the past, today we use that same hour to drive 100 kilometers. So we might have gained 40 kilometers, but no time.

  • This is where we could question our personal goals: What do I want? A possible consequence: choose goals consciously and reduce them! Don’t try to do everything at the same time! We don’t have more time, because we have more goals, we put more goals into the same time frame.

Terracotta Garden Chiang Mai

And what do we do with our free time in Chiang Mai?

  • For one month, the Chedi View Guesthouse is the place we will call home. A secret hint, since this calm, affordable place with a pleasant atmosphere is not mentioned in any guidebook. Neither in the internet. Many good souls live here. They add to our feeling that time has been flying by for us in Chiang Mai.

  • In the Chedi View we meet Maria & Zigor for the third time (before we met in Tehran & Bishkek). As a man totally dressed in white with very long white dread locks passes on a white bike and it makes me smile, Zigor says: „In Chiang Mai, you can find everything!“ How right he is.

  • What we didn’t know before: Chiang Mai is filled with courses, workshops and activities. A storage basin of all different kinds of people. Therefore, many who are here, come to stay all winter or to do a several weeks long yoga, Thai massage or self finding course. Plus all the backpackers, families and sex tourists. You can really find everything here.

  • Despite many quacksalvers (sellers) and weird people (customers), we don’t want to judge it right from the beginning. We want to acknowledge the world’s diversity. Not evaluating the unknown right away, but firstly accepting it and getting to know it.

  • Acroyoga, juggling, African dance, TRE (Tension Release Exercise), Osteo Thai massage, normal Thai massage, mantra singing, choir, Muay Thai, Buddhist meditation and a lot more. We say yes and try it. That’s how we learn! For example, we learn some yoga critics. If you practise it too much, you might slip into an ego trip, because you stay occupied with yourself a lot. With too much and too extreme stretching of the muscels and joints, they can get harmed. And: „Yoga is business“ an insider admits.

  • Furthermore, we try to create a „job“ that can travel with us: so we print bookmarks and sell them after a presentation about our journey. The approximately 50 visitors give us a lot of encouraging feedback.

  • But often we spend time with old habits and put up a slackline in a nearby park (borrowed from our neighbour in the guesthouse).

  • Through talking and trying we have at least learned one thing: EVERYTHING (above) is body work: whether massage, stretching, yoga, JiuJiutsu, slacklining or dancing, whether singing or concentrating on your breathing while meditating. All of this includes a conscious examination your body. A discussion which method or school is the best, is not necessary – each person can decide by themself which one suits them.

Chiang Dao

PARENTS TIME (Chiang Mai & Chiang Dao)

  • For ten days Angela and Inno are visiting. We don’t have a programme and just decide spontaneously what we would like to do. Unfortunately, I am sick and therefore only the three of them discover what Alex and I didn’t manage during one whole month in Chiang Mai: the 4 or 5 temples around the corner.

  • They don’t have to wait for the highlight very long (as they tell me later): In the „Chedi“ temple (whose very old pagoda is visible from our guesthouse „Chedi View“) the three of them learn more about Buddhism in the monk chat:

  • Inno: Why are some Buddha statues skinny and others fat?

If you see a fat statue it is not Buddha, but one of his followers. He was so beautiful that someone was approaching him regularly during his meditation sessions. That’s why he wished to be fat so that he would be able to meditate uninterruptedly. In Chinese Buddhism Buddha is displayed as fat though, too.

  • Later in Chiang Dao – in a remote temple surrounded by jungle – a monk explains us the three basic Buddhist rules: do good, avoid evil, purify your mind. These rules are followed by an explanation of the five basic values of Buddha. With those five values alone, it is possible to master your life: 1. don’t kill 2. don’t steal 3. don’t have unsuitable sexual relationships 4. don’t lie 5. stay conscious (to follow the first four you need your brain). These rules include a lot of other things: being vegetarian, prohibition of cheating on your partner and pedophilia, don’t talk bad about others, don’t consume any kind of drug. The monks follow 277 rules in total.

  • The days we spend together fly by. In Chiang Mai we also visit the university, different markets (e.g. Warorot market), we enjoy the massages from Phon and many restaurants.

  • During the five days we spend in Chiang Dao we rent a scooter. This way we visit remote hilltribe villages, eat on a floating restaurant, trek through the jungle and bathe in the hot springs underneath the sky full of stars. As we discover the big Tuesday market, we meet Jürgen – a German selling home made bread who got stuck here after 15 years of travelling. He gives us a hint and, a short time after that, we are climbing on top of hidden, remote waterfalls.

  • So far our „programme“. The important part though is the time spent together, the proximity and the conversations, especially in the evenings. We talk about fears that each mother naturally has towards her childern – especially those ones who would like to travel around the world by bicycle. And we talk about changing your attitude (e.g. reduction of fears) and the lovely saying „Give your children roots when they are small, give them wings when they are tall.“ „You have set different priorities, but you seem to be balanced“, says Inno. We think so as well 😉

Here you find recent PICTURES and the ROUTE we took (just click on the respective word)!

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