It's a sad day today. After spending a month with us in Chiang Mai, Yaw and Hélène are heading to their next Digital Nomadic destination: Indonesia!
In all of our travels, we've always been the ones to leave. Now the tables are turned, and we are the ones waving good-bye to friends. So excited for them, but sad for us.
Does this mean we are ready to continue motorcycle traveling? Nope. Nothing has changed on that front. Still travel-fatigued. Still enjoying the sedentary, scheduled lifestyle in Chiang Mai.
At least *somebody* still loves us
This is our neighbour's dog. Every day when I am walking back from the co-working space, or when Neda comes back from yoga, this little guy runs up to greet us, tail wagging happily behind him. It's kind of nice being spotted as a regular in the neighbourhood, even if it's by a dog. There's a hole in the gate that he slips through every day after his owner leaves for work and he always makes sure he slips back in before his owner returns. So funny.
We don't know his name and he wears a different colour bandana every day, so we call him "Bandana". I suggested "Antonio Bandana", but Neda didn't like that one.
One day, he followed us all the way to the mall. I was a bit concerned because I didn't know if he could find his way back home. But the next day, Bandana re-appeared where he always was, outside his house, tail wagging and everything.
We did meet his owner one day. Bandana has a Thai name. We couldn't pronounce it. So we kept on calling him Bandana. Despite Bandana being advanced in age, he was still very well loved and taken care of. I'm so glad, because so many dogs are abandoned after they cease being cute and cuddly toys.
This is an especially bad problem in Thailand. Puppy-breeding is a thriving industry. There's big business in selling fluffy puppies to Thai owners, who then promptly abandon them without a thought on the streets or at the closest temple when they grow out of their cute phase. :(
Neda volunteers at a dog shelter called Care For Dogs
Thankfully, there are organizations that take in these stray dogs, house and feed them, and also spay and neuter them to keep the stray population down. Three times a week, Neda rides 20 minutes out of the city to the dog shelter to help take care of the strays housed there.
Hard not to fall in love with a face like that. The puppy is cute too...
OMG! Cuteness overload!!!
More volunteers at Care for Dogs
You know those beautiful Instagram pictures of the girl in the pretty dress leading the guy by the hand in exotic locations all over the world? If not, you can Google: "Murad Osmann Follow Me"
Well, this is my version... :)
The main duty of a volunteer at the dog shelter is to help the dogs burn off excess energy. You need to play with and also take them out for walks. The day I visited, I was allowed to take a couple of the more tamer dogs out. You need to undergo special training to handle the larger, more rambunctious dogs. In fact, just the other day, Neda was taking a couple of boisterous canines out and they yanked on her leash so violently that she tripped and sprained her ankle.
Yep, she messed up the other one now, so it was back to physiotherapy for two sprained ankles... *SMH*
The reward for volunteering. Playing with the puppies!
We talked about the kind of dog we want to get when we settle down and hearing about all these problems with abandoned older dogs in Thailand, we're totally amenable to adopting a senior dog from a shelter. As a first dog, they are easier to take care of, most times they are already house broken and they don't require as much walking.
Neda can't wait! She loves dogs so much.
Here's more information about Care for Dogs in Chiang Mai, if you feel like helping out.
Presenting "The Kiss" by Klimt. It's a birthday present for Neda's sister in Italy.
Neda finally finished her cross-stitch. This one took a whole year because we've been traveling so often, there was little time to work on it.
Well underway on her newest cross-stitch project
We're no longer doing a lot of riding, so Neda has retired Ellie, her baby elephant keychain mascot. She's been promoted to pincushion duties now!
I copy our blog entries to a few motorcycle forums on the Internet. On one of them, ADVRider, I received a PM: "Hey, were you guys at Kad Suan Kaew mall in Chiang Mai?!? I could have sworn I just saw you guys there!"
LOL! What a small world!
We made plans to meet up with Cleaver for drinks later on, and he brought his friend and business partner Millie along. Turns out they are both Digital Nomads too! *AND* they're both from Toronto as well! Small world, indeed!
Since Yaw and Hélène left, my blog writing efforts have stalled. I still go to Maya, but without people sitting beside me working hard, I just default to watching cat videos on YouTube. So after awhile I just gave up on going to the co-working space. I can watch cat videos in our apartment...
Digital Nomading with Cleaver and Millie. Because I invited myself to their co-working space. The blog is back on track!
We go to Maya sometimes, but they prefer going to a whole bunch of different Internet cafes around the city. I don't mind. I'm getting lots of work done!
Cleaver's also a biker and after this stint in Thailand, he's off to Taiwan to do a scooter tour of the island. Cool!
Our time in Chiang Mai is coming to an end. We are cleaning up the bikes to sell them and getting ready to say good-bye to Thailand and SE Asia
We end up selling the bikes to one of the local rental agencies. No mess, no fuss. If you see them on the road around Chiang Mai, e-mail us and let us know! :)
The countdown has started, ticking down towards the expiry dates on our tourist visas and then we'll have to leave Thailand yet again. We don't know when we'll be back, so it's best to get rid of the bikes now, and if we ever return we can always pick up another couple of bikes for fairly cheap.
So... after three months of rest we do another group huddle: What's the verdict? Go home (wherever that is) or continue motorcycling?
We both agree. I think we're done.
Are we sad? Not really. We've been on the road since 2012 - that's quite a long time. I think when we started out, we had visions of ourselves conquering countries and continents, our rear wheel painting an imaginary red line behind us, blazing a confident path across the globe from north pole to south, lines of longitude falling fast in our wake.
In reality, rather than a smooth, efficient and flowing path, our plotted travels look like they were left by a drunken sailor trying to execute a football play in the middle of a line-dance... and falling asleep a couple of times along the way. The line goes back and forth, doubling back on itself as if that drunken sailor forgot his wallet at the last bar, even criss-crossing itself oh so many times...! Then it skips ahead a continent, then returns and does another weird loop-de-doo...
We often tell people that we have no plan and they never believe us. Then when we show them our route on the map, they tell us, "Wow, you guys have no idea where you're going, do you?"
(I feel it's worked out quite well!)
With that said, we have settled on a plan: after a half-decade on the road, we're finally going to end this motorcycle trip and return to Toronto. But it's still snowing there. It'd be nice to wait out the North American winter somewhere a bit warmer.
"Where's the one place you had really wanted to go on this trip, but we never made it?", I asked Neda. I already knew the answer...