After spending a comfortable night at a Buddhist temple-school, I prepared myself to leave early in the morning. My little monk friends were just arriving from their alms gathering run around the village. They all had one thing to share with me from their alms-pot. Someone offered Soy milk, another a pack of noodles, a Thai snack…
I looked at them all and asked,
‘Can we eat together?’
‘Chai Chai'(Yes-Yes) they said and we enjoyed a nice breakfast together.
I told them I am going to Chiang Mai next, 150 kilometers further uphill. Following an incredulous gasp, they all started giggling. They must have thought I am crazy.
As I parted, they all lovingly sent me off.
I reached a town called Lampang in the afternoon. I had two flat tires on the way and I had to fix them on the Asian Super highway under the afternoon sun. I was quite exhausted when I reached a little Mom and Pop store in a quiet corner. I stopped and asked for something vegetarian.
Flustered by the unusual request,
The old store lady brought me a cup of instant noodles.
I sat and ate like I’d not seen food in a few days. She also brought bananas, water and grape juice.
I shared that I am cycling up north to Chiang Mai.
I gestured that my ride since morning has been uphill. She nodded as she turned the table fan towards me.
She exuded such motherly care that I didn’t want to get up and leave the shop.
She refuse to charge me for food. I got away with atleast paying for the instant noodles, ‘Mama’ as they call it in Thailand.
I bicycled on for another couple of hours, all the way, Uphill. It was difficult. At some points I would just laugh out loud wondering how difficult it was !
As the evening set in, I started wondering about finding a shelter. I searched for temples nearby but there were none around the Asian Super highway.
Eventually I stopped at a highway police station to catch a breath.
I sat on a bench and wondered, I am not going to be able to cycle another 30 kms uphill today. I must put an end to cycling for the day.
I looked around to find a highway police man come towards me with his phone.
He used a Thai-English translation app to communicate with me.
His translation read.
‘Do you have a tent me dear friend?’
I nodded animatedly.
‘You can set it up right here and sleep tight for the night.’
I couldn’t believe how eager he was to help.
Later on he came to me and led me to a room with a bed in the police station.
The translation on his phone read,
‘You can sleep on the bed. No need to set up your tent.’
I hadn’t felt so grateful in a long time.
I wrote in his phone,
‘You have a kind soul.’
He smiled like a child.
Right now, I am sitting in the comfortable bed that my Policeman-friend generously offered me.
And I wonder,
‘Why are all these amazing people helping me so much?’
‘Is it because I am on a bicycle?
Or because I am Indian?
Or do I look in need of help?’
Then I realised,
More than anything else,
I am being helped,
for the spirit of choosing to ride,
Up the hill.