By Samir

Because we semi-spoke an Indian language (Hindi), knew the customs, had family, had been there before, … – India still felt somewhat less like travel and more like an extended vacation. As we were packing up on our return from the wedding in Jagdalpur, we talked about it like we were just starting a new trip. Ninety days. Outside the USA and outside India, in countries where we knew no one, did not know the languages/customs/cities.

And so it began.

We flew from New Delhi to Bangkok on the evening of February 13th, arriving at 2:30am on February 14th. Arrived at 4am at our hotel and passed out. We spent the next few hours walking around Bangkok sort of in a daze, as if we were trying to find something familiar, something normal. I remember going to a busy lunch place, ordering papaya salad. The waiter asked me how spicy I wanted it. The menu had little icons for “No Spicy, Small Spicy, Medium Spicy, Very Spicy”. I pointed to “small spicy”. My mouth was on fire. We picked up some meatballs and freshly sliced mango at street vendors afterward. Later in the afternoon, we found a massage place tucked in an alley and each got one hour Thai massages, followed by a cup of shaved chocolate ice cream (yay!).

We already had booked the overnight train to Chiang Mai, so we arrived at the train station a little early, relaxed, had some crepes, and then got on-board the train.