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Friends on Pause

I land in Narita Airport, Japan, pull two thousand Yen out of the ATM, and get on the train for Tokyo. From memory I walk down familiar streets until I get to the New Zealand Embassy in northern Shibuya, where my friend Elliot lives. I haven't seen him in almost two years, and have only emailed a few times since then, but it's as if I never left. We joke around, walk to dinner, and make plans for the weekend.

The next day I pop my Japanese SIM card into my phone and call my friend Toby to let him know that I'm around. He tells me about a party he's throwing in Yoyogi park, so a couple other friends and I join him.

Nothing about these individual scenes is particularly noteworthy. That's the point. In various places around the world I have enough good friends that I can have a pretty normal life there while visiting.

Sisters and Signs

On betternotstop

As promised above is a picture of my slightly wounded face from my attack in Chiang Mai, that's Olivia for looking concerned on the left and following that for a night of whisky and fun times helping me forget about the whole thing (as long as I ignored the stares and mirrors that is).

However the next morning I woke with a strong gut instinct to get out of Chiang Mai, I'm not sure whether it was the fact I knew Olivia was going home, which I of course was devastated about or the fact I knew my friends were in Vietnam and had received a couple of messages telling me I would love it.

Filled with a sense of urgency and a couple of hours later at the downstairs internet cafe I had not only secured a Vietnam visa for that day but booked flights via Bangkok (god I despise that airport now) to arrive at 9pm that evening. Undettered by the dent it put in my budget I just knew this was the right move and once Olivia woke up we decided to spend our last few hours together at the Doi Suthep, a Therevada Buddhist temple just outside Chiang Mai.

The temple is one of Northern Thailand's most famous landmarks, and after a 40 minute journey to the temple base there were exactly 309 steps to climb before reaching the Pagodas. There was also an available tram, however even with my poorly knee I wanted to climb up to truly appreciate the temple.

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