Back in Chiang Mai

Friday, July 29th, 2005

The visa run to Burma went smoothly. Caught an air-conditioned bus to Chiang Rai. Spent the night there and took a connecting bus to the Thai border town of Mae Sai. Both towns looks fairly similar to Chiang Mai, just smaller, so I didn’t bother to take any photos. The bus ride there and back, however was quite beautiful. It went through the lush jungle mountains, past streams and rice paddies and small towns. The border crossing on the Burmese side was so lax that S. and I accidentally walked into the town without getting our passports checked or paying any money. The checkpoint looked like more than a bathroom building, and inside was one man dressed in fatigues sitting at one desk and a college age girl in civilian clothes sitting at an identical desk next to him. They could be the subject of a short story. The man in fatigues actually asked me if I wanted to go to Burma. “Well duh,” I thought until I realized that a lot of people, including myself, actually just turn right around and go back to Thailand to renew their visa. But his tone seemed confused more than anything. And its jarring to see a confused man in military fatigues.

It was a direct 4.5 hour bus ride back into town. The bus barreled down the winding mountain roads. I was the only passenger that bothered to put on a seatbelt.

A FEW PHOTOS:


A view of the jungle out the window. It is hard to get any sense of scale.


On the other side of the mountains were miles of rural farmland.


The earth was the color of an intense yam, sometimes becoming beet color. It looked even more vibrant next to the lush green plants.


The guesthouse toilet in Chiang Rai. The owner of the guesthouse was hilarious. Many funny conversations. His name translated to “remember” for he was born on the day the fifth King died.

Addendum:

Last night I went alone to a bar expecting to sit alone and ultimately go home early. But thanks in part to the inviting atmosphere of Thailand, that apprehension was never realized. I became almost immediately enmeshed in a super group that was in turn enmeshing three smaller groups of people. The table was like one of those world peace posters with the people holdings hands around the earth: people from Thailand, Australians, Israelis, Irish, one awesome Japanese girl, and one American (me). All we needed to complete the circle were some Africans and Mexicans, but both are rarer in Thailand than a hipster doofus in Walmart.

I had noticed a Thai girl that I think was a whore on the brink of murdering her companion. There was pure evil in her eyes; I’ve never seen anything like it. I knew the evening was wearing down when the Thai lawyer/police officer(?), who had befriended me with a big smile and many disarming toasts, introduced me to his two female friends that were sitting very coyly and detached from everyone else. They didn’t speak English, so I tried having a conversation in Thai. But I didn’t know the word for escort.

I found the whole evening very easy and comfortable, the start of what I hope is another handful of friends.

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