My Thailand…. here there are the most evocative pictures.
This summer I saw stunning sunsets and wonderful landscapes in Japan, and most were in Shikoku and its little islands. I was alone, and I often spent my time sitting down on a rock or on a beach or simply on a bench, just enjoying the view and thinking about my life.
I took a direct train from Okayama city, which has a long bridge that connects the mainland with Shikoku island. The journey took about two hours by bullet train, and I arrived in Matsuyama in the early afternoon. I walked for twenty minutes to reach the Apa hotel, and I was extremely tired because of the weight of my backpack. I really don’t know why it always grows heavier as I move about. Anyway, the hotel was very convenient and in a wonderful location. It was in front of a green park and the paths to the castle. The Apa is a famous Japanese chain of cheap hotels, and all the rooms are fully equipped with many amenities. In the common areas there are some vending machines, a Laundromat and a microwave. It has also a dedicated manga, in which the characters of the story stay at the Apa hotel. My room was on the seventh floor, so I had a wonderful river view, and I could see also the castle.
At five in the afternoon I left the hotel, and went walking through the park. When I saw one of the paths to the castle, I tried to follow it. The slope was a bit steep, but the weather wasn’t hot, and there was a pleasant breeze. I’d stopped in front of a historical building, which was the gardens of the castle, but it was closed because of the late time. I could hear classical music coming from inside, and, considering that there wasn’t anybody around, I started to dance in front of the big wooden doorway. I felt like a princess, dancing for my king… but there wasn’t any king. Then a boy ran through the path, and broke the magical atmosphere! Then another person arrived, and I realized that I wasn’t alone any more. I started to walk again, certain to reach the top of the castle. On the street I met a very strange Japanese man, who was talking with some Smurfs – some plastic miniatures representing the blue creatures from a famous cartoon – which he put on a big felled tree trunk. He really scared me, because he had been having a serious conversation with them, and I found it a very strange behaviour. I started to walk faster and pass behind him, scared he could follow me with his Smurfs. I think that it’s very funny now, I’m laughing while writing it, but in that moment it was very frightening. Anyway, I left him behind, and finally I reached the top of the hill and what I saw was amazing. The view up there was stunning, and I could see through the city till the coast. The sky turned orange and then red… It was the sundown time, a marvellous sunset. The atmosphere turned weird, and a lot of black birds were flying all around and broke into the red sky. Suddenly, everything changed and I found myself moving into a fairytale. The lovely cold wind raised my hair, and I stood on the top of the castle looking down to the sea, where it met with the sky and both turned into one. I had a lump in my throat because I was surrounded by the beauty of nature, and I was completely pervaded by emotions. Even though there were few people up there, I felt thoroughly alone, just me and myself, fighting against my demons and trying to find the answers to my life. With a dark sky I went back through the path, so I was in the wood, and I heard the real sounds of nature, as a beautiful soundtrack for my return downhill. When I entered in my room, I was quite shocked from the sensations I felt, but also reassured.
The morning after I walked through the city for a while, then in the afternoon, I decided to go to the coast and see the sea. I took a train to Takahamako port. The journey was about 40 minutes, but while the train was running it started to rain. I was a bit worried because I wanted to sit down on the beach and breathe the sea breeze. When the train stopped, I was so happy because the rain also stopped. While I was walking through the pier, the sun started to shine and I could feel the warmth of the sun’s rays all over my skin, a pleasant sensation. I climbed over a little wall on the sidewalk, and I fell from a ladder into a white and deserted beach. I went up the rocks, which formed a sort of bridge over the sea. I sat down there – me, the sun, and the wind. I live in a city, so for me it’s very strange to find deserted places where I can sit down and think. I spent about one hour there, dancing and singing, then I went back to the pier and took a little boat, and I reached one of the islands in the Seto Sea. It was the nearest one because it was already 4 p.m. I arrived at Gogoshima island after 15 minutes. It is very little, but extremely beautiful. I walked the road over the sea, searching for an isolated place to sit down. I saw a little, lonely beach under the road, but I should have come down from the top of the street. I held a rope, secured firmly to the railing, and falling down to the beach. I gripped the rope and I dropped from the rocks, even though I had some problems reaching the ground, and I scratched myself on the rocks. I did it and I felt so lucky because nobody could have known where I was, and it seemed I was abandoned on a desert island. I sat on the sand for a while, before trying to reach the top, climbing the rocks with the rope. The wall was very steep, and I found it harder than coming down. Anyway, I loved the adventure and I felt alive when I did something that few people could have done. Sometimes my friends think I’m mad, but I love the way I live, even though it’s a bit unconventional. I went back to the little port and I waited for the boat to the mainland. Another day had passed by, but it was another amazing day!
In my room I planned the boat trip for the day after. I wanted to go to Nakajima island and visited the other islands nearby.
I come to Thailand every year for the holidays and sometimes twice a year, but this time has been different. I came to Chiang Mai to spend seven weeks studying English at International House, and now is the six week mark. I can say now that it’s been one of the best experiences in my life. At the beginning, I got to know a lot of people from all over the world. Talking with them and trying to understand what they said seemed to me a huge problem, but after the first two weeks I could understand all of them and I could have a conversation with them, which means I reached one of my goals.
I stay in the countryside, in a lovely place called San Phak Wan. I have to take a taxi to reach the city, but I have found a very cheap way to go there. I walk for twenty-five minutes on a lovely quiet local road and when I reach the main road I take a yellow truck for ten Thai Baht (about $ 0,28).
Walking along the streets in Chiang Mai I have discovered some city views that I couldn’t have imagined, or maybe I could’ve… It’s a city where the old and the almost new are mixed together, where bright colors collide with the blank buildings. The temples makes magic all around and behind the gates you can glimpse the gold of the statues of Buddha. The ruins surround the borders of the city and they skirt along the roads showing the historical background and bringing you back to old times.
Keep on walking I hear a pretty girl, who is singing and playing ukulele. She’s sitting behind a desk at an open air travel agency and it’s a pleasant soundtrack against the city traffic. That’s one of the magical things in this city… lovely smiling people help you to understand the simplicity of life, so we don’t need a lot of material things to reach the happiness but only the consciousness of being what we are.
I realised that to cross the roads is one of the most complicated action you can do here, because nobody takes care of pedestrians and so it can be a bit dangerous. Anyway, I can also appreciate that as a symbol of a different culture.
The flowing river that lines the roads, the little wooden bridges, and the colorful flowers all around give an enchanting atmosphere and make you forget you are in a busy big city.
I came to Chiang Mai once before – a long time ago – but I didn’t appreciate then how interesting it is. I remember I went to the mountain to see the most famous temple, Doi Suthep Wat, on the top of Mount Suthep, which is massive and amazing. Anyway, this time I didn’t want to see the same things and I didn’t want to be a tourist, so I have lived as a normal citizen. I go to a dance school every Saturday and Sunday, I go out three times a week to buy something at a shopping center or visit parts of the city.
Being a fashion designer pushes me to buy a lot of very cheap dresses which I find every time I go out in the lovely shops all around. This could be a problem when I’ll have to pack my suitcase, but I’m a bit crazy and so I don’t care about it now. I want to solve the problems at the right moment! I’m always in trouble with things I bought because a lot of times I’ve had to pay an overweight fee at the airport. However, nothing can stop me…
Last thursday I came to the city to get new tattoos. I had an appointment and I was very excited about it. I went alone and I got two tattoos done. It was a little bit strange because usually when I go to a tattoo studio I’m not alone, but this time everything was different and I enjoyed it. I think that sometimes we have to trust ourself and not be scared. Now I have new pieces of art on my skin and the total now is ten… I have a piece of Chiang Mai on me and it’s here forever!
I’m a visionary; I believe in fairytales. I’m an artist, and this city brings out the best of me, of my soul. It will be very hard to leave this place!