Do you not just love the feeling of waking up and not knowing where you actually are? Perhaps this sensation is more generally attributed to drunks, or prostitutes, though it's also an occupational hazard for tea importers too! As I awoke yesterday, bleary eyed from my slumber, I slowly began to remember the incredible journey I have undertaken over the past 2.5 days, well off the tourist trail, and into Thailand’s emerging tea growing north.
It started on a stunning Island in Indonesia called Nusa Lembogan where I had been diving with a friend. I was here after my first attempt to travel north was postponed due to Thailand's incredible, and unpredictable, weather. The night before I left Indonesia I was wandering up a relatively deserted street on my way back to a chilled out bonfire party on the beach. Out of the darkness, walking towards me, was the unbelievably-out-of-context sight of a kilt cladded Scotsman carrying on his back a set of bagpipes!
The poor man had no chance, for I was not taking no for an answer, he was coming with me back to the party!
My friend was standing by the fire but when he saw the prize I was returning with his face lit up. Iain is a patriot and as an ex-pat I knew this little taste of home would be a welcome one. Mike played brilliantly, as one might expect from a man who has travelled around Asia for the past 8 months, sporting traditional Scottish dress, and giving his lungs of steel an awesome work out.
His stories of adventures were funny, gross and inspiring from: being kicked out an open mic night in Ubud; to having his 'true Scottishness' bitten by an intrusive ant in the jungle; to living and working with a family on a farm in Java. We danced as he played his bagpipes late into the night as the sight and sound of the Scottish party drew in more and more revellers.
Party over, I knew I was here to seek out some tea, so returned to Phuket early the following morning from where I hopped on a flight to Chiang Mai Province in Northern Thailand. Having all my belonging packed into one hand luggage sized dry bag meant I could walk off the flight and into a cab, and what a cab, and so this is where my adventure really began!