I lived in the middle of London for five years. Proper middle, Zone1, London Bridge, Borough. No messing. Fuck your Clapham or Brixton and all that. During that time, although my head-office was but ten minutes stroll away I worked daily with my clients at their offices. Over those years that meant three different commutes. A five hour round trip to Surrey on tube/national rail, a three hour on the train to West London and a slightly shorter one, also to West London.
OH DEAR it’s a sad state of affairs when you can’t even buy two records on a Saturday morning without your credit card melting. Yep it finally decided to stop talking in the Vinyl Exchange forcing me to GASP pay in CASH. Yes real money. In fact it was the last £20 note I had and handing it over left me with just a tenner in the whole world. Of course this was wisely invested later on in the day on a “Six Summer Sausage Selection” and 24 “Bierre D’or” from Tesco.
Getting hold of western toiletries etc is not as easy as popping down to the local Tesco/Walmart and picking up your fave items. At least in the places I’ve been to recently Thailand, Tibet and now Nepal trying to find most of that stuff is nigh-on impossible - even in capitals like Kathmandu. So yesterday when I spotted a shop window full of bottles, “Colgate” logos catching my eye, I went straight in to stock up.
Recently I’ve been feeling really travelled out. Zero motivation and all that.. over the past 10 months I’ve seen more picturesque lakes, mountains, temples, churches, cathedrals.. visited more hilltribes, villages, unique markets than any man should ever have to and so landing in Cheng-Du, which however you dress it up is just another big city, made me a bit depressed. I couldn’t see the point of being there at all so I revisited my reasons for going.
The devil is in the details. Lots of funny little things go on in Chiang Mai none of which really make a story in themselves but if I tell you a few things at once you might get a feeling of what it’s like to spend some time here.. First off the town is split into two parts.. not old and new but day and night. Daytime Chiang Mai sees lots of Thai people shooting around town on mopeds, often carrying anything up to three other passengers, planks of wood or poultry on the pillion.
Pretty much the journey consisted of driving past lots and lots of amazing scenery. The roads varied from freshly surfaced tarmac (rare) through to potholed rock-riddled tracks (pretty much all day) and sometimes we just drove down the side of mountains or up streams dodging yak, sheep, shepherds, yak, more yak and the occasional guinea pig. Each time we stopped, whether it was to visit a significant monument or in a village to stay the night the locals might attack you for provisions.
The record for biggest shit-hole I’ve ever stayed in (previously held by the “Turtles Refuge” in Victoria BC) has been eclipsed by the “Chaing-Mai Guest House”! It was pretty bad. Lizards everywhere (both human and reptile) no glass in the windows (which were barred) and a bedroom door that had clearly taken multiple kickings. The shared bathroom on my floor was vile, there’s no light, which is probably a blessing. I guess that’s what you get for the equivalent of 68p a night.
I don’t think I’ve dedicated a post entirely to one person before. Although Kiwi Tom - my current roommate in Nelson - is intensely annoying I do have a soft-spot for him. Certainly my time here cannot be accurately reflected without writing about him. Tom smokes a lot of powerful weed, he smokes it all day every day like you or I might breath air. He looks a bit like a figure in a Lowry painting or like Jack Skellington from ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’.