Dear avid followers,

I am sorry.

It’s been over a month and several thousand miles since I posted anything here. Since Rishikesh (my last post), I travelled back into Himachel Pradesh, back into Shimla / Solan, back into Chandigarh (from where I missed a train to Varanasi, and therefore another on to Kolkata, from where my flight soon departed without me), onto Delhi (on an overcrowded public night bus – 5 people to 3 seats!) for a different flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. From here I headed north to the Perhentian islands (the ones I missed he first time round), I then returned to Ko Tao, Thailand (via water taxi, boat, taxi, motorbike, train, catamaran and pick-up truck) and continued north to Chiang Mai and Pai. I then flew from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, Cambodia then north to Siem Riep followed by 3 days relaxing on the practically deserted island Koh Rong. I fill you in on all this stuff in due course.

But anyway, I am now back in the beautiful Chiang Mai, city of temples, tourists, tigers, trekking and, due to the season, umbrellas, where I have decided to settle down for most of July. At the half way point of trip now, I decided it was time to give myself a break and chill out for a few weeks before I head on to Australia. I fly to Sydney from Bangkok on 25 July. In the meantime, here I shall stay.

The non-AC, seater carriage on the night train left a lot to be desired when compared to the AC sleepers I’ve taken so far. In the sleeper carriage, Thai State Railway’s in-house bed setting-up ninja comes along at about 9pm, orders everyone out of his way and sets up upper and lower bunks all the way down the carriage (including sheets, pillow cases, curtains) quicker than anything you’ve seen before. You then climb in your bunk, close the curtain and slowly freeze to death from the AC outlet positioned inches from your face which helpfully excludes an off switch. Whilst the seats in the non-AC sleeper carriage are quite comfortable and they recline nicely, there’s no real comparison. Waking up in the night, sweating, stuck to the chair and with a hot breeze in your face, isn’t the nicest thing. Luckily, I was massively sleep deprived from the previous night, so I actually managed to sleep quite well. I’d have paid a lot to freeze to death instead though.

I arrived in Chiang Mai in the early afternoon, hungry and comfortable, and found a pick-up driver who wasn’t looking to fleece first time tourists for 150B for a 40B fare into the old city, and made my way to the hostel I’d stayed at previously – Jimmy’s Homestay – 200B (£4ish) per night for a large double room, with fan, private bathroom, free wifi and a resident kitten. Home sweet home. I took a much needed shower and ventured out for some food, a haircut and a guitar; the fourth I will have ever owned, despite the fact that I can’t yet play one. But that is my aim for this month off from travelling – get a guitar, get some lessons and finally, after around 15 years of wanting to, learn to play it!

I’ll keep you posted as I go along and I’ll fill you in on the past month or so when I get a proper chance.

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