“What is your intention?” The staff from Sak Yant Chiang Mai asked me while deciding on the tattoo design I would have. After spending 4 days of doing yoga at Suan Sati, I wasn’t expecting to hear that question which also usually starts a yoga session. But it does makes sense. Tattoos are something that’s contemplated upon. It’s a permanent mark on the skin. So for me it should have meaning. One thing I do know for sure, I will get a traditional Sak Yant tattoo on this visit to Thailand.
It is one of those trips when photography takes a back seat. I visited Chiang Mai to pursue my other interest – Yoga. I had been practicing yoga for more than two years and I was keen in joining a yoga retreat which I haven’t done yet. My bucket list is to maybe hop on one of those Jet Airways flight to world’s yoga capital, India. But my time allowed me only a week out so I stayed in Thailand. I was heading to Suan Sati, a yoga retreat place I found 40-minutes away from Chiang Mai. Here, I spent 4 days and 3 nights of twice daily yoga, daily meditation, healthy meals, permaculture environment and good vibe community.
It takes an average of 12–14 hours travel by train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. Buses are a lot faster. Sometimes, Air travel cost is not far from the train fare. But there’s something about train rides I enjoy. For me it’s an easy and intimate way to travel through the landscape. Unlike the far and disconnected view from the airplane window or the sedentary feel in the bus, I can freely move around and enjoy looking at the passing view. It’s my first time to travel through Thailand provinces. And as I always do in different countries, slow travel by railway is always in my list to try.
No rain. I guess the afternoon squall has finally decided to halt. I just got out of Wat Pho and noticed I still have enough time to explore another temple that afternoon. The Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is just across Chao Phraya river. Just a short walk from Wat Pho is the ferry terminal to cross the river. Only 3.50 baht and I’m across the river in less than 10 minutes.
A year since I last travelled abroad, I was excited to visit Thailand. The Southeast Asia nation I haven’t really explored. This was also my birthday trip and I wanted to try travel differently this time. Skimmed down my gear by not bringing my tripod this time. I did still bring my main camera but I was shooting more with my Asus ZenFone 4 Max 5.5 in Thailand. I have always wanted to try to minimalize and focus more on the travel experience than the gear I have.
I realized I was already encircling around the perimeter walls of Bangkok’s Grand Palace. I was walking under heavy rain and squeezing my way through the crowd of black-garbed Thai mourners of the recently passed King at the roadsides. Thai people adore King Bhumibol Adulyadej and it shows. As I got into the Grand Palace, I saw bus loads of tourist waiting to get in. I only have less than two hours left and paying 500 THB along with this crowd didn’t appeal to me. So I left. Then there’s Wat Pho I remember passing by earlier. I retraced my route to the back of the palace. Drenched and tired, I just wanted a nice place to sit. I was thrilled that there were less people here at Wat Pho. I paid my 50 THB entrance fee which comes with a free bottle of mineral water and went on to explore the temple grounds.
I turned up the volume of the Bose speaker connected via bluetooth to my smartphone. The acoustic harmony of the Hollow Cove’s “The Woods” filled my large Luxury Room. I split the curtains wide and see the Sukhumvit street below early in it’s early morning bustle. “We’re all falling and we all need a place… to hide!” I somehow echo the lyrics of the song. After a week of exploring Bangkok and Chiang Mai, I welcome a little indulgence to cap my last few days in Thailand. Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit welcomed me with their 5-star comfort and warmth. My birthday was just five days ago but it felt this was the time to celebrate.