Oct 242006

Mum – don’t read this ;->

Long Blog..but a funny one.

Last night I landed in Chiang Rai after a night in Bangkok in transit from Myanmar. I was keen to have a great night out with Tracy, and unfortunately we stumbled into a good bar after eating in the oh-so-touristy Cabbages & COndoms restaurant in Sukhumvit. I went there last year too, but the meal was absolutely fantastic. Anyway, amongst all the women for sale in the area, Tracy opened a door to a pub and it looked quite cool. I was short of cash as the ATM didn’t work, so I found out they took credit cards. All ok. Subsequently we found out they only took them for bills over 2000 Baht, so there was only one thing to do. A British guy who helped design the bar started speaking to us and promptly took us up to the ‘ice room’ and gave us few vodka shots from the solid ice bar… I’ll have to look up the Titanium Bar in BKK up as we were still trying to suss out what kind of bar it really was.

Anyway, result accomplished, but a bit too much. I had set my alarm for Tracy’s flight, heard it and groaned (surely loud enough for her to wake up), and then I woke up 20 minutes before her flight was due to leave the airport, so she stumbled downstairs to rebook a her flight to Cambodia.

I made it to Chiang Rai and am staying in a cool hostel – Chat’s House. I hired a bike today and covered 283km on a whistle stop tour of the north of Thailand up and around the Golden Triangle. I decided to go north from Chaing Rai to to Mae Salong – a small Chinese town (although I never witnessed much), but I somehow felt obliged to buy some Ginseng Tea (to make my pack even heavier), and my heart went out to a wee girl who approached me with something else to hang off my wrist. Unfotunately she broke the first one when tying it onto me, but provided a replacement free of charge (two for 5 Bahts – not bad), so now my wrist jingles every time it moves (No comments!). I then went up Doi Tung and the road running alongside the Thai-Myanmar border…… despite Lonely Planet recommending not to do it on your own…soemthing like ‘…you may be mistaken for an FBI Drugs Enforcer’. Jeez, the said to be careful in Myanmar, so I skipped that bit. At the summit of Doi Tung I had to switch to the reserve tank of gas. They guys said around 60km on reserve, only 20km to go to Mae Sai, so no worries there. Hmm…did I turn the switch the right way on the tank when filling up? That was a trauma as the guy at the rental place said to throw in around 6 litres…it’s just that the attendent spoke no English, and I didn’t know how much a litre was so I just handed over 120 Baht….safe in the knowledge I’d have 60km to find a gas station…..

So, around 10km after flicking the switch, the bike died again. Half way up a hill. The only one on my now downhill run to Mae Sai. I had already been waved through 3 army checkpoints, and I had just went through a really narrow, not main, road. Only 1pm, so no fear, only around 11 km to Mae Sai, so if I had to…….

Amazingly, after pushing uphill for a few hundred metres, I tried to start the bugger again, and it kicked in, taking me an extra few hundred metres to the next checkpoint. Of course, none of the young army kids spoke any english..at least no more than to establish I was from Scotland, and to determine what the women were like there, and what I thought of Thai woman. Luckily our Thaiglish hand signals worked, and they pointed me back the way I came assuring me there was a village that sold gas on a turn off, just along the road. And it was. At the top of the hill, I signed to a woman on a balcony (aka slapped the gast tank of the free wheeling dirt bike), who pointed to the house across the road, just before I freewheeled past the ‘petrol station’. It reminded me of the black market sellers in Myanmar, the petrol flowing from a tube from something that definitely did not have a gauge on it. At least here they didn’t need to suck the tube first to get it out the carton. The smiling guy (some more hand signals later) filled me up with his version of 70 Bahts of fuel (I kinda think it wasn’t 70 Bahts worth, as I said Mae Sai a few times, and we could see it at the bottom of the mountain) and I was on my way again!

Oh it could have been so much worse – the whole thing only costing me around 40 minutes. Needless to say when I got to Mae Sai, I chucked in a shit load more petrol…as long as it was more Bahts than the first time I would be ok… My confidence dented, I never took the mere 2km detour to actually see the border crossing with Myanmar, but I guess I had been riding within metres of Myanmar for 30 minutes all on my own (bar the odd soldier in his sandbag sheltered checkpoint), so I hot footed it to the Golden Triangle.

I found the cheapest woman in Thailand up there at the viewpoint. The Golden Triangle village was busy with people, restaurants and guesthouses, but the hilltop viewpoint had noone except me, a few empty stalls, and these stunning three girls who approached me the minute I got off the bike and took my camera out. I had a good chat with them, took a few pictures, let them practice their English by asking about ‘my’ bike and the normal sort of things. Luckily, the 5 year olds were only after a few Baht for me taking their pictures.

I got off the bike in Chiang Rai ten minutes before the hire place closed, big smiles on my face, looking forward to some food and a beer. Of course, when I asked for a bit of refund for the petrol in the tank, they didn’t understand me, and just answered in that Asian way : “Yes, Yes, Yes” which usually means – “Who the f*ck are you kidding?” I walked into my accommodation and bumped into Luc who was one of our crowd in Myanmar. He was meant to have passed through a few days earlier, but hit flew north in Myanmar to cross into Thailand, only to find the border closed, and with just enough money to fly back to Yangon, then to Bangkok…how annoying must that have been!

Yeh – that’s right (frantic sign language) – enough to get me to Mae Sai :

Just round the corner from the ‘petrol station’ :

..but I made it to the Golden Triangle – one picture, 3 countries – Thailand, Myanmar and Laos :

And the cheapest (cutest?) girls in Thailand – only 5 Baht for a few pics :

 Posted by at 1:34 pm

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