One thing Ive realized on this trip is how quickly things/days come and go and if I am remiss in detailing my happenings on a frequent basis, those memories are quickly gone.
Last, I was in Chiang Mai and AI had signed up for a day trip leaving the hotel @ 7:00 AM enroute to Chiang Rai, the Golden Triangle and points north. The vehicle was a Toyota Commuter, eleven seater and there were some Aussies, French and two other Americans on the group tour. (Originally, I had agreed to take a private car tour for four times the cost of the group tour, but decided against it as it just didnt make sense to pay that kind of money for the same tour offered by the group.) The first stop was a beautiful Temple and Buddha, followed by the boat trip on the Mekong river to a triangular stretch of land with Myanmar, Thailand and Laos on three sides. Imagine the spit of land in front
of you with land on each side of the waterway and you are at the Golden Triangle. Kind of like standing at the four corners of the U.S. where one can stand in four states- New Mexico and three others?
We did enter Laos long enough to get a phony passport stamp and look at some trinket shops in Laos. I was considering traveling into Laos at one point, but havent learned of any redeeming qualities so to get a passport stamp is just enough Laos for me!
Lunch was next and had a good time sharing travel stories with a English/Aussie couple from London. Mae Sen is the northern most city in Thailand and borders Myanmar. One group member-an American needed to extend his visa to allow him to stay in Thailand. One crosses the border into Myanmar and makes a U-turn back into Thailand to re-enter Thailand for another period of time. The whole process takes 20 minutes, but is necessary to allow one legal permission to remain in Thailand. The American had a Thai girlfriend and needed the extension to do the puppy-love program for another time period.
The border crossing is a fascinating place with more people, cars and commotion that one can imagine. People seem to move freely over the border, but I am told getting back into Thailand can be a challenge. Prices are much cheaper across the border, but there is a limit as to how much one can carry back. Our group did not go across the border but we could see where the King of Thailands flags ended and the Communist flags began on the bridge between the two countries.
The final two stops were mountain villages of two indigenous tribes, the Ahka and Yao tribes live on mountainsides and eek out a living selling handmade crafts and trinkets, tiny people and they remind me of the Incas of South America in skin color and physical features.
It was a three and half ride back to Chiang Mai and we arrive back at nine oclock in the evening, a full day of touring , but a worthwhile one in terms of scenery and interesting places to see.
Sunday morning-back to the airport and a quick flight back to Bangkok as I am on my way to Pattaya. My driver/car picked me up for the two hour drive to Pattaya, located on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand. I arrived here around noon and checked into Tim Boutique, another place that looks better on the Internet than it does in person. A bit dated of a place! Pattaya is a bit seedy, with a lot more farangs then Ai have seen anywhere else in Thailand. Middle-aged guys walking the streets in drovers. The beach is twenty feet wide and hardly a match for Phuket, where the beaches are gorgeous by comparison.
Had dinner next to a table of rowdy Swedes, but they were having a good time, so it didnt matter. This town has more bars than I ve seen this side of Bangkok. It is a late night crowd as well and I was happy just to get some sleep after a full day of travel.
It is now Monday morning in Thailand and I just heard the Giants won! It takes that long to hear news as and now it off to Dallas to meet the Cowboys. I have to decide to sit on the roof top pool or go to the beach! Life is tough some times! Journey well to all!
posted Monday January 2008