Today, it became clear that this was the day I’d been preparing for. This was the day that all early mornings in the rain & the walking & the weight loss & Soberdom was all about.
And I didn’t even know it.
Pre Soberdom, I hated trainers & rucksacks & mountains & exercising & ‘wasting’ a day in the sun. I would never have been up before sunrise on holiday .. I would’ve only just got in .. and would’ve hated getting on a bus full of strangers, out of my comfort zone, to go & see waterfalls & pagodas & trek through the Doi Inthanon National Park.
I would’ve been hungover & moody & dehydrated .. in fact, the thought of doing anything like today would never have entered my head.
Today, after bolting down a coffee & a banana for breakfast, I was picked up at 7am in a van by my tour guide Boon. My fellow passengers were 3 solo girl travellers from Lithuania, Austria & Germany plus a lovely family of 4 from France.
We headed out of Chaing Mai at rush hour. This translates to no one going anywhere very fast but use whichever means possible to undercut each other, the size of the gap between vehicles irrelevant.
Our first stop was the waterfall .. it was spectacular! We walked up to it for photos then had a coffee, sitting & chilling & marvelling at its magnificence. Then we all piled back into the van to the next stop.
When we arrived at a clearing on the side of the mountain road, we were told this was where our trek began with a small Thai man who apparently spoke good English. This was a blatant lie but his lack of English actually made the trek far more real & endearing.
The trek started uphill. I was thankful for my recent trip to Manchester & my hill climbs! For once, I wasn’t the heavy breather at the back, the one in the stupid footwear, the one struggling to keep up. I was strong & confident & raring to go.
The trek took us through forests & through strawberry fields where we ate the fruit fresh from the ground. We saw coffee plants & bamboo & ate cinnamon fresh from the tree. We trekked on paths I would’ve been petrified of before & crossed rickety bamboo bridges to get to waterfalls on the other side.
Lunch was at a traditional Thai village. It was truly gorgeous .. rice, fresh soup, chicken & cashew nuts & vegetables, followed by fruit. Nothing was too much trouble and after all the energy exerted in the morning, was very welcome.
After lunch, we got back in our trusty van & went up to the Royal pagodas at the top of the mountain, built for the former King & Queen of Thailand. Each pagoda is at the top of a massive set of steps and is very opulent as are the grounds surrounding each one. We then headed back home.
I feel like I’ve just woken up. That this is what it’s all about. Getting out there, seeing things, immersing myself in culture, seeing how other people live. It is not about sitting by the pool & downing gin or hangovers & endless late nights.
It is about the moment, the here & now, being present.
Some people have asked if I feel safe here. I can honestly say I’ve never felt safer. I feel invincible, untouchable, ‘with it’ .. I simply can’t understand why I haven’t done this sooner and know, without doubt, that I will definitely be doing it again.