What could be worse than staggering off a sleepless night bus in the middle of a rainy city square with no idea where to go next?

Sitting in a cubicle? Probably.

Either way, I found myself rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, holding 2 bags (one of which has $4K worth of fragile electronics inside) in the pouring rain.  Lost.  Fortunately, I was here in Chiang Mai 3 years ago and I knew that I had been dropped inside of the old city square – a perfect square equipt with old-school moat and wall to keep the bad guys out.

I used my compass and started walking north along the winding maze of cobblestoned streets, knowing that eventually I had to hit the moat.

I did – and pretty soon I was oriented with memories and places coming back to me in a flood of emotions. This was one of my major vagabonding stops in 2006 and unlike the last time here, I had an entirely different mission this time…..

No longer was I the complete newbie just starting to explore a new life in a new country.  Sure, I still feel the magic, but it feels like I am seeing it through slightly jaded eyes that have a few fresh wrinkles around them.  I know there’s a difference now, because I barely even cast a glance in the direction of the old Buddhist temple, its walls painted with gold leaf, that I strolled past.

My mission this time was to meet up with Anna, Hollie, and Luke – three new vagabonds that I met via this blog.  I was so impressed by Anna’s Celestine Prophecy tinged life philosophies that I promised her we would meet up if ever we found ourselves on the same continent. It happened, and not by chance, so I was here to make good on my promise.

After dropping my bags at the same guesthouse I stayed in three years ago (Top North GH) I wandered out still half-asleep to get some breakfast. I rounded the corner and there was a woman sat at an outside table alone having some coffee.  Even without seeing a photo, I knew that it was Hollie, Anna’s travel mate, so I sat down. It was.

Chance meeting number one.

Within 15 minutes we were talking about things like energy, fate, and other subjects that would send most random strangers running to drown themselves in the moat.  Absolutely incredible, a simple yet life changing conversation, that left my head buzzing.

Later that evening, when the place that we had agreed to meet was closed for the Queen’s birthday, it was starting to look like our meeting would be lost. We had no means of communication, the trio were leaving to go trekking the next day, so I did what I do best and started wandering aimlessly.  This is a city of 1 million, but after following the very unused internal compass that we all have inside, it didn’t take more than 20 minutes to walk up on the three of them.

Chance meeting number two.

We shared a great dinner and conversation on the rooftop of a place and then parted ways.  It felt strange (and a little uncomfortable) sitting on the other side of the table trying to share travel advice like some kind of sage which I am not. What they did not realize was that coming here was far more beneficial to me and that I learned far more by having the universe try to shift my role to “teacher” for a couple of hours.

I could feel their energy, see the excitement in their awakened eyes even as they glanced over the menu, talked about what was ahead, and grasped their brand new roles in life. Inexplicably, I had some mad moment while we were discussing adventure options and I wanted to just scream “Be careful – people die out here sometimes!  You’ll see!”.  It bothers me to admit something like that, but it is true.

Has so much changed since I sat here 3 years ago?

These guys are serious, and whether they realized it or not, it was a serious injection of love and excitement back into my slightly jaded soul.  No doubt, one day, they will be sat on the other side of the table in the “teacher” role.

It was my honor to sit across the table from them.

The goodbye was minimal, the three of them were headed to the mountains for 3 days, but regardless of whether I see them in Thailand again, there is no doubt in my mind that we will find each other again.  People with a fire burning as hot as theirs don’t stop any time soon.

The next day as I did my usual aimless wanderings, I didn’t pass up that mysterious temple as I did the first time, and I went inside.  My eyes had been opened again.

Thanks Anna, Hollie, and Luke.  See you in the field.