I've been in Thailand for a week now, the first half in Ayuthaya and since then moving north to Lopburi, Phitsanolok, and now Lampang. I'll take a short train ride on to Chiang Mai tomorrow ( July 1 ) and likely spend about a week there before going even further north - to Mai Sai, on the border with Burma, with a side trip to Mae Salong village high in the mountains. It's been a lazy week with no real 'high points' ( I didn't expect or want any - I've been avoiding tourist 'hot spots' ) but I've enjoyed every day, taking long walks around whatever town I'm in and stopping in local street markets, Buddhist temples, and cafes where Thais seem to be hanging out. That said, it's been a bit TOO low-key perhaps - because of where I've been and the fact that it's the 'low season' now for tourism, I haven't met any other travelers at all to talk with at any length or do things with. The guest houses I've stayed in so far have been empty, or all but.
I'd expected to be enduring extreme heat and to be sitting inside a lot waiting for the rain to stop. Neither has been true so far, for which I'm very grateful. Most days have been overcast and a bit breezy. Still, I'm feeling a need to conserve energy; I still walk miles and miles, but I try to drink more liquids than I used to, walk more slowly and take more breaks. Since I already have so many photos of Thailand from past trips, I'm challenged to get new ones that are different or better, which is fine - I try to observe directly instead of through my camera viewfinder. It means I don't censor what catches my eye through those very selective and unfortunate filters of 'would this make an interesting shot?' and 'can my camera capture this?' For example I've noticed lots more birds than ever before - thousands of cranes and herons in the rice fields especially.
After ten months of always being the focus of special attention in Indonesia - as the only foreigner around - it's great to be seen as 'just another tourist'. Heads don't turn when people catch sight of me and no one is calling out 'Hello, mister!' every twenty meters as I walk. As a result, I don't feel that constant pressure to keep a smile plastered on my face even if I'm worn out and my mind is wandering.
Overall I'm feeling very, very relaxed and not surprisingly am sleeping better and 'breathing easier' ( literally as well as figuratively ) than I have in many months - which is perfect since my #1 goal for this month is simply to 'clear my head' before returning to the US and whatever may come up next in my life.