The Myanmar Visa Run
As I am required do every month, I had to make a trip to the border to renew my tourist visa. This time, I knew someone who wanted to visit family who lived less than an hour from the border in a town called Chiang Rai. And this person had a nice car. So we head out and arrive there in three hours time, stopping for pie and coffee along the way. It felt like a regular American road trip, just with two Thais and two Americans.
Our hosts were very friendly. The mother spoke no English but was all toothy smiles. I had never seen a toothier smile until her husband came home and flashed me his decaying, horse-grade chompers. Apparently, the father spends extra hours at his work singing karaoke alone to soft core pornographic karaoke VCDs. Outside his shop lingers what his daughter describes as a no-good Thai gang. The daughter fears that they will cause trouble with her father, but when asked what made her think they were a gang she answered that all they did was hang out on the bench swing and go around selling flowers. Very menacing indeed. Dinner was served “northern style” on a mat with a large lemon reamer shaped metal grill over hot coals. Meat was put on the convex center and cooked one the spot. Its juices sliding down into a moat of hot water and cooking vegetables. The locals at the table seemed to delight in eating thick slices of grilled pork fat. I took to a spicy shredded pork dish and the vegetables and stuck to eating only seasoned grilled chicken and chicken blood soup. Blood abounds in the dishes up there. Consumed: sticky rice with pork blood, spicy soup with tomato and blood broth, chicken soup with congealed chicken blood “dumplings” that looked like pieces of liver.
The one kink in the whole trip was a big one: I forgot my passport. After staring blankly at the wall and trying not to beat myself up, we found a way to get the passport sent to me on a bus, only delaying the trip by about half a day. We got to the border with moments to spare, and I was in and out of Burma in about as long as it takes to drink a glass of coffee.
Picture AFTER the meal. The unhappy expressions are from people about to explode.
Mother and daughter playing a flute and a Thai instrument together after dinner.
Came back to the city and went to an amazing house outside of town owned by a hilarious gay couple. Beautiful dinner on the back porch with a view of rice paddies and the mountains.