Entering the Burmese Border

Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
Trip End Dec 24, 2004

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Saturday, December 4, 2004

Day 7, our tour guide Supan asked us to wake up early in the morning at 630 am so we could get an early start. Both James and I were tired from days of traveling and wanted to sleep in late. In addition, James had caught the cold or bronchitis form all the drastic climatic changes. So instead of the two of us touring, James decided to stay back and spend a day resting in the hotel. Supan was quite shocked when he found out that James was sick and he asked many times if he would be okay. Anyways, after a quick breakfast, we left Chiang Mai and went straight for Chiang Rai, a city that is about 200 km due north. The ride was a long one, we didn't arrive at the first tourist spot until 11 am. Supan took me to the Long Neck village first aka Karan Village. For those of you who read National Geographic magazines might have seen people with metal rings around their necks, look no further, its here !!! Apparently, back in the old days, the tigers routinely hunt down people as their pray, so in order to protect the child bearing women, they are required to wear metal rings around their neck for protection. There were photos of how these ladies lived with these rings, showered with them and slept with them. The rings were actually coils and as the girls got older, the loops of ring increase. These rings were very heavy !!! They weight about 5 kg a piece !!! Amazing !!! I also saw a lady with her earlobe pierced with a large conical object, very interesting. Next, Supan took me to Mae Sui, a Thai border town with Myanmar. Mae Sui was loaded with road side stalls selling everything from souveniors to electronic items. After having a buffet style lunch, Supan took me across the border to Myanmar. I basically have to leave my passport in the Thai border office while taking the photo copy across the border. Immediately after I cross the border, I noticed some significant differeces. First of all, Myanmar people drove on the right instead of left as in Thailand and second the roads were in much worse condition than in Thailand. Supan hired a motor bike which took us to 2 unique Burmese Buddha temples. Both covered in gold leaves and lots of decorations. The Burmese tour lasted for 1.5 hours before we headed back in Thailand. Next, we visited the Golden Triangle which was the place where Mekong River and Nam Ruak River merged. This is also the border of three countries namely Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. It was also the famous site where back in the old days, the opium and other drug trafficking occurred. Now a days, the Thai governement passed strict laws to ban illicit drugs with the death penalty. This has successful curtailed all the drug trafficking in the area. We next visited one more temple in the area, Wat Chedi Luang, before we took our long car ride back to Chiang Mai.
Day 8, after receiving much pressure from James and I, Supan agreed to take us around the Chiang Mai City wall and also to visit a few major temples inside the city wall. We Saw Wat Chiang Mun and Wat Phra Singh. According to Supan, there are hundred of temples inside Chiang Mai's city wall, making it one of the most religious place in Thailand. We finished the package tour at 12 pm when Supan dropped us off at the airport. The flight back to Bangkok was very uneventful except after we land, we came upon the absolute worst traffic jam that Thailand has seen. This happened to be a long weekend celebrating King Rama the IX's birthday. Looked like to me the entire Thai population was on the move. The taxi ride to the hotel took ONLY 3 hours while the normal ride would be half hour. Our taxi driver was a fool who not only spoke no English, but also tried to rip us off. Although we had already agreed upon a fixed price, he turned the meter off and jacked up the price nearly doubling it. After lots of bargaining, arguing and threatening to turn him into the police, the driver became upset and decided to turn back to the airport if we didn't pay. In stead of paying him the high taxi price, James asked him to pull off the side of the road before we took off on foot, paying him only what he deserved. James and I wondered on the street for a while looking for our hotel before we gave in and ride the taxi again. The second driver was much nicer, he even told us some famous fip-off taxi stories that we were just too familiar about. We didn't get into the hotel until 930 pm. After having dinner at a Thai bar-be-que place, which James fiercely protested eating at a hot place on a hot day, we crashed at our hotel beds.
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