Reflection on our journey ~ metaphorically and mechanically. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Locals ask the question “Where are you from?”, which is fairly easy to answer…. (South Africa, France, Chicago, Nicaragua) compared with the question travelers ask us, which is “Where do you live?” The answer is not so easy.
We no longer live in Nicaragua. We no longer live in Viet Nam. We no longer live in Bali.
“Do you live in Chiang Mai?” is the next question…
“No. We don’t. Yes, we do. We might.”
Are we homeless? No, we don’t feel that way at all. We feel as though, home is wherever WE are, undetermined or predicted by time or duration.
This is where the term nomadic really resonates. It may sound like the gyspies of Eastern Europe or the Bedouins of the Sahara desert, but it’s nothing as dramatic. We can say with certainty that we live in the region of Asia. That much is for sure. (For now…) We left Central America almost a year ago. So far 5 months in Viet Nam, 2 months in Indonesia, 2 weeks in Cambodia and a month in Thailand. In fact, we can further refine our answer. We live in South East Asia. Ok, we have an answer for the geographically minded.
To quote the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, reputed to be, with the Dalai Lama, the two best known teachers of Buddhism and “mindfulness” :“Our true home is in the present moment.”
After resting and recouping in Bangkok , both Adam and Ben have thankfully recovered from dengue fever and are ready to take the train North. Yay!
We wake up very early in order to catch the first morning train from the Bangkok train station at 8.00 a.m, which takes 12 hours to get to it’s final destination of Chiang Mai.
At the Bangkok train station waiting for the train, with dengue fever finally behind them!
Ok guys! Lets GO already….!
A few hours out of Bangkok and the scenery gets more dramatic with forests, rivers and impending rain.


Adam gets off the train after 6 hours at the ancient city of Sukhothai, and Ben and I, continue for another 6 hours to Chiang Mai. Long train ride, which instead of arriving at 8.30 pm, gets in closer to 10.30. Why?
Our small 3 carriage train which was humming along nicely through beautiful lush forest clearly starts to have some problems. Strange loud noises, lots of jerking back and forth, a slowing down and struggling to get traction to move forward.


Several train technicians scurry to the front of the train with flashlights. They don’t speak any English and not only that, they don’t have time or interest in explaining what the hell is going on!Ben looks out the window into the dark night and sees a firework display of red sparks flying from the wheels. Not a good sign!  I want off this train! Now!…. Not possible. It appears we are on an incline trying to go up a mountain, and not only that but the voluminous red sparks lighting up the darkness below the train, indicate we are on a high bridge, with trees below us. My yogic breathing escapes me as fear rears its ugly head.
Around us the locals are sleeping or awake and undaunted, which is somewhat comforting, and we manage to find one man who speaks some English and he tells us that there is “storm, mountain, fire!” Hmmm, not exactly what I want to hear. Definitely scary… until eventually the train like “The little engine that could”, makes it up the mountain 2 hours later and resumes to a normal pace.
We roll into the station at Chiang Mai happy to be alive and very ready to get off the train after 14 hours of travel.

7 thoughts on “Reflection on our journey ~ metaphorically and mechanically. Chiang Mai, Thailand

  1. Sharon Rosenzweig

    Peta, you make a beautiful nomad. Lots of frightening news here but you’re looking strong. How did you manage to escape the fever? Did you have help nursing the menfolk? Storm mountain fire sounds like an I Ching draw. It means you woman of Valor and will be blessed (I admit I already read the next post).

    1. Peta Kaplan and Ben Sandzer-Bell

      Aw thanks… There are definitely scary moments, but its all part of the adventure and does make one face ones fears. We occasionally meet travelers who shape their travels around their fears (don’t eat street food, don’t swim in rivers, don’t ride a motorcycle) and indeed we do not go bngjee jumping and have not been zip lining, but am tempted to try white water rafting even though this is a scary thought. So everyone has their own level of risk taking and fear facing which is intensified with travel.
      Re escaping Dengue, I think it was because I used repellant with Deet as opposed to the natural one. (Worth it, to avoid the dreaded D.F.)
      Happy to have received the monks blessings.

  2. Adrienne Jankelow

    You make an enchanting story teller, tho I n=know these are not stories, but renditions of the day 🙂

  3. JB

    I agree with your friends…You are a wonderful story teller and a beautiful nomad !!!!!!! This post is very interesting indeed. Please don’t get sick..The three of you… Enjoy your free life.
    Much love
    Your mother in Law

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