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By Adam Corney
12 February 2011

Location: Bangkok
Soundtrack: Theme to “Superman” – John Williams

I flew into Bangkok from Sydney, and two hours later was on the next plane to Chiang Mai.

It’s not that I don’t like Bangkok – it’s that I prefer northern Thailand more. There’s something about the people, the pace, the smells, the sounds – it’s like another world. The fastest way to get there is plane, which is only an hour. There are overnight trains that can get you there, as well as gaudily coloured and heavily air-conditioned tourist buses.

Arriving in Chiang Mai was like coming home. My first time here was four years ago, at the start of a three month adventure through South East Asia. My travel buddies & I arrived on December 5, 2006, the day after celebrating the King’s Birthday in Bangkok.

This time, its 2011, and I’d been travelling solo for the better part of 14 hours.

As much as I was uncomfortable and tired after the long trip, I took a moment in the middle of Chiang Mai to close my eyes and smell the air. Incense. Exhaust. Heat. Sewers. Cooking. It’s the unmistakable smell of Thailand. The first time it hits you, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. It’s not unpleasant. The smell is like a warm hug, welcoming you back to a place that has been waiting patiently for you all along.

I took in my moment of zen and enjoyed it. Opening my eyes, I realised it was getting dark. I set out to find my hotel, which was conveniently located right near my favourite eating place in the world – Chiang Mai Night Market.

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

- The Power of Myth (1988), Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers

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