Day159 — City Walking & Talking

This city has a lot to offer

January 11th, 2017

I shared a room with 7 others. More tricky to “manage” noise. Everyone on different sleep schedules. Some girls went out last night and returned late. Others, like me, went to bed early. A few started today really early. Nonetheless, I got a good night’s sleep.

I searched online, “Buddhism books for beginners.” I read through a couple of good lists. A few books appeared repetitively. Those should be good books. I picked one and made a purchase on Amazon: “What the Buddha taught” by Walpola Sri Rahula. I began the first chapter. Yes, I like this book very much. I’ll learn a lot. This will be a great learning resource.

Got breakfast, packed my things, and left the hostel to start a new journey. Time, 10AM. Looking at a map, I headed downtown. On the way, I visited a temple called “Wat Phan Tong.” I have a feeling this will be the first of many temples that I will explore in the coming week, since Chiang Mai, and northern Thailand, is host to many beautiful temples.

Next to the temple I was greeted by a lady who carried with her many small birds, occupied in small wooden containers. She told me, “let them free.” Confused at first, intrigued at second.

I picked up the birds. They were beautiful. I didn’t ask questions about them, why she did this, or what this meant. My hope, and my belief, is that she treats these birds with respect and frees them regardless of her customers. Make a wish, happy new year. 200 baht.

What the heck, why not. The birds fascinated me. And of course, I could derive some meaning from this. She offered to capture the moment. I handed her the camera, asked for a video, and she recorded.

I did not make a wish. I just opened the cage and let them free. Small, powerful and quick. They flew directly to a neighboring tree. Their natural habitat. That was beautiful. No wish? No. I was in the moment. Enjoying the process of freeing the birds. I can create meaning. The birds, they were me. The cage, my mind. That was me freeing myself from my mind, disassociating self with mind identification. Coming to my own. I did not make a wish. I lived it.

That was fun. Continued walking and located the “Elephant Nature Park,” a sanctuary that I had heard about from other tourists and read about online. The testimonials, very positive. Apparently, this is one of those cant-miss things to do in Thailand.

So, I booked a one-day tour for January the 19th. They are booked for another week, which means they are on high-demand. Wow, I’m committing to something & planning ahead? This is a bit different.

Walked a bit and parked at a smoothie joint. A good place to sit down and organize things. For the past week, I’ve been communicating with 3 others from the Serendipia experience. JLO, Anthony, and Priyash. We were planning to meet here in Chiang Mai to spend time together and maybe even work with Anthony (a diet/ health coach) to participate in one of his detox programs.

Priyash, he arrived in Chiang Mai this morning. Anthony, he was already here. JLO, he was still in Bangkok with plans to travel tomorrow. I messaged Priyash and minutes later, he was here at the smoothie joint. Cool, reunited with another friend from Serendipia!

Ordered some food & shared lunch, while discussing our recent adventures after the Serendipia program ended and future travel plans. Priyash will be leaving for Bangkok in a couple days, so he only has today and tomorrow to explore Chiang Mai and the region. Our plan for today: walk around, explore Temples, and find a fun activity for tomorrow.

Once we started walking, I shared an interest of mine regarding today’s exploration. I explained that I was interested in learning about the local entrepreneurship scene. What is the community like? Where do they come from? What are they doing? Considering Priyash’s shared interest in entrepreneurship, he was game.

A few days earlier I did some research regarding this topic and discovered a co working space called “Punspace.” It was mentioned in an article and it seemed like a very worthwhile place to check out. We were really close. Arrived in 5 minutes.

I introduced myself to the lady at the desk showing interest in the space, both as a prospective customer and a prospective collaborator. Who knows, maybe one day I will live in Chiang Mai? What is it like here? What are the costs?

On a different note, how do you create a sense of community among a group of diverse people? I could learn from these guys, as I will be working to do the same in February, back at SparkBoulder.

The Thai lady understood my English, walked downstairs, and introduced me to Brittany, their community manager. She explained that before her, Punspace did not even have a community manager, that she got the position recently, ads that she is trained as an Intellectual Property lawyer. Right now and this week, she’s busy but is free next week and would love to chat then.

Coincidentally, she was scheduled to tour a neighboring collaborative space, called the MakerSpace. She invited Priyash and me to join. Cool, we would love to. We met this fellow named “Nati Sang,” the entrepreneur who created the space. For Brittany, she wanted to learn more because of shared purpose: entrepreneurs coming together building shit. And she wanted to write a piece about the MakerSpace in the next newsletter.

The tour was fun and interesting. We learned more about his story, the origin story of the space, the various equipment, his philosophies for the business, and current projects. Lots going on, lots of exciting work. Nati started out in Silicon Valley, built a business around the time of the Internet .com boom and relocated to Thailand to explore his roots. Since coming here, he has not left. He feels greatly connected to the MakerSpace, much more aligned than in his previous entrepreneurial work.

Well, that was cool. Just like that in a short hour Priyash and I got a real, quick taste of entrepreneurship in Chiang Mai. Much to learn, much to see, much to understand. But for today, that was a great introduction. I look forward to returning to Punspace. I may even drop by tomorrow, there’s a Fuckup nights event planned!

Priyash and I walked for a bit and received a message from Anthony, the health coach. “Hey guys, I’m in Chiang Mai for a few hours before I’m headed out. Currently at a smoothie place if you want to meet.” Cool. Priyash and I walked to the location. And just like that, we were reunited with our yoga teacher from a few weeks back. This is cool, I could get used to meeting people and then meeting them again in different parts of the world.

We spent maybe two hours together chatting. Chatting about health, diet, foods, fruits, Chiang Mai, travel, meditation. Stuff like that. I ordered two delicious smoothies. Anthony, he is so happy, filled with so much energy. He is doing something right. He communicates/ expresses such good things when it comes to his health, energy, and eating habits. That would be nice to have. Maybe I should play with the idea of eating only fruits, eating only plants, drinking only smoothies, or even fasting. Apparently this stuff works and it feels great. Healthy eating, I need to work on it Ethan!

Said goodbye and Priyash and I continued on our walking journey. Let’s figure out what we want to do for tomorrow. We sat in a few travel agencies and were very interested in visiting a nearby National park, called “Doi Inthanon.” Look it up on Google images, this place seems stunning.

Anthony gave us an idea. Why don’t you rent a scooter and drive yourself there? This idea gave both Priyash and me some energy and excitement. Wow, that would be such an adventure. So we started looking at places to rent scooters. Only $6 for an entire day. Jess, that is dirt cheap.

Observing the roads, my anxiety kicks in. Yea….. I don’t know if this is such a good idea. Driving here seems a bit crazy. I don’t know how to ride. It might rain tomorrow. I read reviews online. 30 deaths each day for motorcycle/ motorbike accidents. The more I read online, the more uncomfortable I got. Yes this would be the more adventurous option, but I would not feel safe. I would likely not be able to enjoy myself. This was much more dangerous than scuba diving. I communicated my concerns to Priyash, he read online too. He agreed.

Revisited an agency and booked a tour for tomorrow, including tickets, tours, and hiking. A full day package. Yes, I was much more comfortable with this. Riding a bike in these conditions, I don’t think that would have been the best environment to test the waters. Not safe grounds for failure.

By now, it was raining pretty hard. It was dark. We had walked a lot. Done a lot. And had made some good plans. We walked to a hostel, a place where Priyash made reservations before meeting with me. The place, it costs $6 less. But it’s not as well-maintained. Not as nice/ comfortable. Oh well, it’s fine. It works. I’ll only stay here a night.

Currently 9PM. Who knows how the next hour or so will unveil. My assumption, reading then bed.

Greatful Life

  • I am grateful for the birds because they chirp beauty
  • I am grateful for Priyash because he was a fun companion to explore Chiang Mai with
  • I am grateful for Brittany because she was so friendly and interested in helping
Like what you read? Give Ethan Levy a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.