Pinch me I must be dreaming.
I actually could still be dreaming as I’ve just woken up from a fourteen hour sleep, but I’m here in my new Chiang Mai home sat on a brightly coloured beanbag, sipping delicious black coffee and loving life more than life itself.
I got some very strange looks when I told people that I’d deliberately booked a three-flight route to Chiang Mai with the longest possible layover at each stop, but what can I say, I just love airstations. First to Abu Dabi, then to Bangkok and finally on to Chiang Mai.
As I’m sure it does for most people, travelling through time completely throws me off balance. By the time I’d reached Bangkok I’d been travelling 36 hours on no more than three hour’s sleep. I didn’t have a clue what day it was, or what time it was or where I was, or even who I was.
I’d had spicy vermicelli noodles for breakfast and a coffee and a croissant as a midnight feast. I’d spent seven hours squished between a hyperactive toddler who used me as his personal climbing frame and a large man from Delhi who thought it was acceptable to belch really loudly in my left ear. After a mile high Netflix and Chill, I’d spent a further seven hours squished against a window listening to the sloppy kisses of an overly happy couple. And for no more than a few more minutes, I’d slept, upright with my neck bent at right angles, dribbling on the guy’s shoulder.
So it’s not really any wonder I casually wandered around Bangkok airstation delirious for five hours before missing my final flight.
Your flight departed three hours ago madam
The Land of Smiles
After circling Terminal 1 for a few more hours and lightening my purse by 2000 THB, I took an afternoon flight and finally arrived in Chiang Mai.
I now fully understand why they call this place the Land of Smiles. Everybody here seems to be a Duke or Dutchess of the Duchenne, their eyes are alight with friendliness, they put their hands together in prayer and bow their heads to greet one another with respect. And probably the most bizarre thing about it all is that it feels so genuine.
A short taxi ride through the city in the back of a brightly coloured jeep and I’m at the gates of Global Groove Life’s co-creative house being barked at by my new pet dog Chloe; an adorable little old pooch with a thick fluffy auburn coat.
When I took my shoes off and walked through that front door, over the varnished wooden floors and into the main room I got goosebumps all over – I couldn’t have dreamt up something more perfect.
It’s a bohemian palace of colourful chaos; somewhere between a museum, an art gallery and a fair trade playhouse for adults.
There are colours and textures everywhere; bright, embroidered cushions and bean bags piled on top of each other, posters and paintings on every wall, white boards graffitied with scribbles and wooden tribal objects that I’m not quite sure the use of. Under the stairs is a tiny lemon-painted alcove with a lilac sofa, pastel coloured cushions and a turquoise wicker basket, with guitars hanging on the wall and a Buddha rug hanging from the sloping ceiling – the perfect little readers corner.
The kitchen has bright coral coloured walls with a pine dining table covered in a pale blue and white checked cloth, a pretty little resting place for painted ceramic pots. Then in the centre there’s a small white tiled island with baskets of tiny but chunky bananas and jars of jam. Stuck to the coral backdrop are pots, pans, kitchen utensils and more rainbow coloured paintings.
As you head back out through the living space and up the wide wooden staircase there’s a second level almost like a maisonette, filled with more cushions, more colours and more textures. The tall white bricked fire place at the centre of the room, reaches up to the ceiling and almost separates the space into two themes: dawn and dusk.
The dawn side has a real waking-up morning feel with a bright sunshine yellow wall, windows with ornate cast iron shutters and a large glass patio door leading out onto the leafy terrace. There’s a yin and yang shaped wicker sofa with cushions covered in Aztec prints, pom poms and tassels, and lots of tall wooden ladders used for displaying all sorts of weird and wonderful crafts.
Then on the right hand side of the fireplace, the walls are calming contrast of pale dusk blue. There’s a tall oak bookshelf, a large black and white sofa with a matching chaise longue and some more interesting art pieces with Thai and Indian influence. And in the corner, la pièce de résistance, their all-year-round Christmas tree. It’s just magic.
What’s Your Calling?
She asked me to meditate how I wanted to feel and what that looked like.
I closed my eyes and pictured the excitement butterflies swarming around my stomach as I sat on a one-way flight to somewhere new. I was headed East, to India, armed with my favourite book Shantaram and a heart full of wanderlust. My smile was uncontrollable.
Since that day, the more my thoughts of past and present have unravelled, the more I’ve started to knit together what future I want. And a few weeks ago, when I asked myself to meditate on the same idea… this was pretty much it.
A one-way flight to somewhere totally new. Colours everywhere. Smiles. A language I don’t understand. New people, new friends, new perspectives. At the end of each day having the comfort of a home; a room all to myself with a king size bed, satin sheets, and a door for me to shut the world out. Doing something that lets me use my brain without losing my conscience, keeps me learning and keeps me on track for doing good stuff to be a better me.
So that’s why I had goosebumps walking into this place. I’d asked, I’d believed and I’d received…. day one in Chiang Mai complete and I’m feeling bohemianly rhapsodic.