The other day, up on a hill overlooking Thaton and the Burma border, in northern Thailand, I watched the moon rise, the full moon in all its huge brilliance, coming up to light the valley and the hills. The sun was setting in the west at the same time, leaving a warm glow in the sky. How magical, heart-stopping even, to catch these moments. But then there was another: the next night, just after sunset, and with the sky still bright, there was the moon rising, still huge, but this time a deep red. Unbelievable.
It's the dust and haze from burming off rice stubble, I guess, that gives that kind of colour. But at the time rational thoughts flee, and all I could do was be amazed and thrilled. Eventually the red shifted into a deep orange, so that the fat moon felt more moonlike, though still exceptionally beautiful and "look-at-me". How lucky to be sitting out at Fern's farm, on her platform, newly built, which gives a view of the hills and overlooks her lychee trees. On hot days there's always a breeze up there, and at night the stars feel closer. Of course on a full moon night the brazen moon eclipses all the stars...
The next day we were up at a Lahu village west of Fang checking out a home-stay and other options offered by the Phumanee Hotel. It was so interesting to climb up and up (in a truck, not on foot, I confess) through bamboo jungle and a forest of tall trees to the Lahu villages on Thailand's second-highest mountain. They offer trekking and food and home-stay. Google Phumanee Hotel and you'll find them.
But after all that height and air, back we drove to Chiang Mai, with me at the wheel, and the exhilaration and edge of driving on the left rather than the right hand side of the road. No accidents not even any near misses though. I am always happy to hand back a rental car, damage-free, after a trip like that.
After two and a half days with no internet, I felt lighter and freer. It was a bit of a come-down to check mail and see all that faced, me; it felt like a high wall of obligations. But among the incoming mail this week is a note on FB that links to a place namimg the top twenty travel blogs. It's here. On the list isthe lively and out there Jodi Ettenberg of legalnomads, and also there is the remarkable team of Robyn Eckhardt and David Hagerman, with the blog EatingAsia. They write about travel entertainingly and with intelligence; they also write with depth and passion about food and traditions. Bravo all of you.
On the list was a blog I hadn't come across (I don't cruise around much and don't look for blog-type reading usually). But this one has a special tone and focus, so I want to flag it for you. It's called stories of conflict and love and here's the link. Have a look.
Today rather than getting out early on my rented one-speed bike, as I had planned on this quiet Sunday, I ended up taking an early (before 7 am) look at the Burma book galleys and getting sucked into them headlong...so that not only did I not get a bike ride in, I didn't even leave the apartment until after 6 pm. In between I was immersed in editing and reading and retyping and so on... And now I'm done, for this round at least. Tomorrow I photocopy all of it, as back-up, and then figure out how to get it to Fed-Ex (the office is way out on the edge of town).
I feel so freed up. Now there's time to chat with friends, to pack, to think about Burma (where I head on Thursday), to just loosen up. I got an early start on all that earlier this evening. I met friends for a massage at the Sunday Market. It's a treat to sit in the open air watching the very varied and idiosyncratic crowds, while having a massage (I had a feet and leg massage, so it was really easy to watch the goings-on. I had one hour of massage and I feel all the better for it.
One of the additions and amendments to the galleys was to do with Shan tea-leaf salad. Now I understand how it can work with both pickled tea-leaves and dried tea-leaves. I've even tried it with fresh-picked leaves. I know this is obsessive behaviour, playig around with fresh tea-leaves, but how great to have the chance to check things out fully.
An early Happy Valentines day to you all... I feel we should just start thinking of it as "heart day"