"One day, I'll come back here and live this life again."
It's the thought that ran through my head as I laid on my hard, sweat-dampened Thai mattress on a clammy November morning in 2013.
I didn't want to leave the new routine I'd built: wake up to roosters, banana, yoga, market breakfast, coffee shop, editing, temples at sunset, shower, Khao Soi, cheap changs and new friends. I had reluctantly packed my bag the previous evening when I took a night off from being another farang in a crowded bar. I had fallen in love with Chiang Mai against my will. It was a twist of fate that led me to this place and now it threatened to derail everything.
I remember the thought vividly because half my body was tingling with numbness. I took it as a sign to keep moving eastwards to Vietnam where the visa I had sent away for would soon start losing days. I later found out that the numbness was actually the symptom of a tick that rudely burrowed into my leg while I hiked the jungle trail to Wat Phra Doi Suthep.
I'd been itching to go back to Chiang Mai ever since. The tick was gone, but something about Chiang Mai was still inside me. It was time to go back.