Despite nearly missing my flight to Chiang Mai by going to the wrong airport, I left Bangkok excited; not nervous, not scared. Excited. I was here for a reason and this was the start of the second chapter in my journey, a transition to something new and I was enjoying the ride.
Chiang Mai was magical. After escaping the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, Chiang Mai was so chilled in comparison. Bursting at the seams with night market stalls around the old town and hoping on a red truck to get around, it again, was like nothing I had ever seen before.
I met people that I would never usually connect with, people from all over the world that had different reasons for travelling, at different parts of their journey. I met someone that was at the end of their 6 month world tour, I met a couple of friends that were at the beginning of their trip but were heading to Australia to make a living, leaving their UK home behind. I even met someone that was cycling (yes, cycling) from London to Sydney. I met some truly extraordinary people that I shared some incredible experiences with and it was in Chiang Mai that I started doing things that I had never done before.
One of my highlights of the trip was visiting an Elephant Sanctuary. I had never been up close and personal to such incredible creatures. We feed them, trekked with them in the jungle, bathed them in a mud bath and washed them off under a waterfall. For the people that know me, I’m a city girl. I am not a fan of anything to do with the outdoors. I hate bugs, I don’t like camping, I don’t like getting my hair wet, I don’t like hiking, I don’t like mud, I’ll even avoid music festivals if it includes camping (hold tight Glasto 2019). But here, I let it all go. I embraced it all; scooped up mud to rub all over the elephants, trekked for an hour in the jungle, and carried on after slipping and nearly falling into the depths of the wilderness never to be seen again (shout out to the American girl who grabbed my arm and saved me from falling). I climbed into a freezing waterfall barefoot and bathed the elephants even though I am not a fan of water. But it didn’t matter, I opened myself up to new experiences, new people and loved every single moment of it.
I’ll be exaggerating if I said I’m not a strong swimmer, in fact, I can barely swim at all. I did learn when I was a kid, but every swimming lesson was a chore and after I convinced by Mum that I could swim and I that didn’t need lessons anymore, I stopped going and lost my confidence in the water. Believe it or not, it was my idea to drag a group of new friends to the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon Water Park. This was no ordinary water park though, this was literally like Total Freaking Wipeout.
I thought everything would be ok, but as soon as I hit the water the first time I panicked. I didn’t know what to do, my breathing was off and I felt completely out of control (even though I was wearing a life jacket, can you believe). I was lucky to be with a group of people who were really patient with me and explained to me that I am fine. I have a life jacket, I’m not going to drown. I just need to not panic as I’m the one that’s in control. After that I quickly got a lot more used to being in the water, and being one with the element and not panicking. I actually made my way around most of the water park and again, faced this fear of water by doing something that I would never usually do. There’s something about being away from home around new people that makes you feel brave and do things you wouldn’t usually do. I liked that, and I liked how this was changing me and making me more confident and more open.