8th September, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Travelling on the back of a moped with the cool wind blowing against my hair, I have to keep reminding myself not to smile all the time. It's amazing what a little bit of freedom can do! Mouth ajar is definitely not a good idea as it instantly becomes a flytrap. In no time you end up spitting out bitter tasting bugs, looking all the less eloquent whilst doing so.
Today was a pretty uneventful day. We spent most of the day walking around an air-conditioned shopping mall called The Central Airport Plaza. A big shopping centre that is not surprisingly, situated right next to the airport. It is a great place to indulge in retail therapy but we didn't go too mad and only picked up a few souvenirs. All mundane stuff but what set today apart from other ordinary days was the journey back to the hotel.
As we set off on our moped, the sky was looking overcast and dark clouds were looming nearby. Thinking we could make it back to the hotel before the heavens opened up, we made a confident start. Shortly after we set off, the rain came down heavily and within minutes we were completely drenched. Our clothes were saturated and water was running off them, as if they were part of our skin. What was worse was that we had hit rush hour traffic. Becoming despondent to it all, I started to sing 'Raindrops keep falling on my head' all the way back to the hotel, much to the amusement of Ian.
Normally, on mopeds we enjoy a lot of independence in that we can weave in and out, make U-turns where it might not be possible in a bigger vehicle and make our way right to the front of the queue at the traffic lights. But today, with cars and lorries lined up compactly in all the narrow lanes, it was difficult to squeeze through - we, too, had to wait in line. Visibility was poor and keeping your mouth firmly shut was definitely a must, unless you wanted a mouth rinse!
Cars and lorries seemed a little more sympathetic and gave way to us hard-core travellers a bit more than usual. Maybe it was just my imagination or Ian had put his foot down on the acceleration as soon as the road opened up a little. Not many bikes were on the road (yeah, you'd be crazy to ride a bike in this weather!) and the few locals that I could see who were on mopeds were well-prepared with their ponchos and umbrellas. I felt 'less of a tourist' when I spotted another local in the same predicament as us i.e. no umbrella or poncho.
The water was coming down so fast that my eyes were stinging. I began to wonder whether Ian could see the road clearly in front. I wasn't driving so I closed my eyes and when I next opened them, we were just a block away from the hotel.
I spotted some tourists standing on the pavement taking photos of us silly tourists caught in the rain. That was probably the low point of the trip - talk about adding insult to injury! As we pulled up to the hotel, a few of the staff tried to look professional but I could see the smiles they were trying so hard to conceal. Who could blame them as we both looked like we had jumped into the pool in all our clothes and had just pulled ourselves out. A couple of drenched rats.
Back in the shelter of our hotel room, I emptied my soaking wet bag and found an umbrella right at the bottom of it. Oh, the irony!!