Chiang Mai

Well this is definitely going to be a short post. All I remember about Chiang Mai was that after an incredibly relaxing massage I rented my first ever scooter and if you read my last post you can see what’s coming… Yes, I crashed it!

After practicing in Ayutthaya the day before I felt I could ride it, but Chiang Mai turned out to be a much busier place and that freaked me out a bit. I had to do a U-turn from one three lane road into another and that did not go well. I don’t know what exactly went wrong but I ended up with a scooter lying in the middle of the road. The worst part was that when I tried to pick it up I didn’t switch off the engine and accidentally turned the throttle, so that got me running after my scooter and eventually I dropped it again. Must have been a miserable sight… Anyway, some nice local lady (who’s probably used to seeing foreigners doing stuff like that) came to help, switched off the engine and moved my scooter to the side of the road.

I was so shocked that I couldn’t even remember where exactly I was staying or how I was going to get there, but luckily my boyfriend came back and found me. I was really lucky I ended up with just a few bruises (and no major damage to the bike). The rest of the day was all about relaxing and trying to decide whether I was brave enough to tackle the Mae Hong Son loop, which is approx. 600km with nearly 800 curves. I decided to give it a go and take it slowly and it was the best decision ever that lead to one of the most exciting weeks in my life. I’ll tell you all about it in the next post 🙂

P.S. I never thought I would write a separate post on this event, but I bought a motorcycle three months ago and it’s incredible to think about where it all started and how far I’ve come.

Istanbul

Every time I go to a place like Istanbul I just wish I paid more attention in history lessons… Nevertheless, even without any decent history knowledge it’s impossible not to appreciate this breathtaking city.

I just remembered how dirty I felt once I arrived to Istanbul. It was a 24 hour stopover on the back to Scotland from Nepal. I spent 7 weeks wondering in the clouds of dust and getting my boots dirty and then over the sudden I was in this pristine place (at least it felt like it). My dirty (kind of) tshirts and shorts really felt awkward, although judging from all the attention I got from local guys, nobody even noticed my clothes.

I really didn’t have much time to see Istanbul. I made it to the Blue Mosque which was one the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It’s hard to show the beauty in the photos, but I heard people saying that if their church looked like this mosque they would spend every day there. Not being religious, I almost agreed.

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I then met some local volunteers who recommended visiting Topkapi Palace, a former residence of Ottoman Sultans. It’s an absolutely stunning place with loads of colours, patterns and beautiful items (like jewelry) and it was a proper history overload for my tired from traveling brains.

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The place kept me entertained for a few hours and I didn’t realise I missed the closing time of the Basilica Cistern – a largest of the cisterns in Istanbul, able to hold 80,000 cubic metres (or accoring to my calcs 32 Olympic swimming pools) of water. I am a bit of a water engineering freak so I was gutted to miss the place.

For some reason everyone kept telling me how chaotic transport was in Istanbul, I kept replying that they should see Nepal… 🙂 just to be clear, not just for the chaotic transport but also for its beauty!

I spent an evening catching up with my ex classmate. She was studying in Istanbul so it was a good occasion to meet up. She dragged me back to Asia, which I thought I escaped earlier that morning. No regrets, because on the Asian side of Istanbul I got introduced to a Turkish pizza, Lahmacun, which I’m still dreaming about and cannot find it anywhere is Scotland… ideas anyone?

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The next day I got up early thanks to jet lag. Had a wee wonder around the empty streets and headed back to the airport. It was time to come back to Scotland. I know one day I will return to Turkey, do my history research beforehand and eat Lahmacun for breakfast, lunch and dinner (maybe)!