Mae Hong Son: 3934 curves
Trip Start Jan 25, 2010
9Trip End Feb 23, 2010
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So where did I leave off? (reads last blog) oh yes. I decided to leave Pai (it was quite expensive due to the Lonely Planet calling it a "backpacker haven") and got a bus to Mae Hong Son, which turned out to not be the place I had actually intended to go but is nice all the same.
I ate an extortionately priced breakfast in Pai before I left (with a wheatgrass shake)(not a good decision as it turned out) and then decided to leave this hippie town.
I bought my ticket, paid 100 baht extra for them to chuck my bike on teh roof, and waited in a rare shady spot (yes yes I got severely sunburned the day before) while trying to read my map and ignore as politely as possible the Thai man who seemed to want to matchmake me to the guy next to him. But, I don't speak Thai so I'm not really sure. Anyway the bus came. It was full of people. I waited for them to get out. They stayed in. After my bike was on the roof I came to the realisation that I was supposed to get IN. They were all Thai which was weird, I figured it would be a backpacker deal, but whatever. "Hey. Get in" the guy told me and waving in the open door. I peered in cautiously. I could spot an empty seat towards the back. I had all my luggage (granted it's not much) teh pump and computer from my bike, camera, bottle of water, helmet and camelback. And I was supposed to get into this minivan OH I forgot to mention I'm like twice the size of these people as well. The poor lady I squeezed past looked like she might faint. Anyway teh journey is only like 4 hours BUT here I should mention that this part of Thailand is FAMOUS for "curves" ie roads that are so steep they have to go back and forth to get up or down the hill. Yep, that's where I chose to start cycling.
Anyway the whole journey I was severely carsick and trying to hold everything down. I don't know if it was the heat, the wheatgrass shake or some combination of teh two but I was not happy on that bus. I tried to think about other stuff and look out teh window but if I opened the curtain the sun would hit me and I would shrink back like the wicked witch of the west.
Also for teh fist hour of the journey there was this OLD Thai guy whos cellphone kept going off. The same two lines oft he same Thai song. And he couldn't hear it. he hilarous thing was, no one was telling him, and he was too far away for me to reach. This Australian guy reached over, grabbed the phone and pushed the "answer" button, and tried to explain the the guy that when the phone rang, he needed to push that button. The guy just looked at him and the phone rang at least ten more times, the Aussie guy and me just looking at each other and cracking up because, what a weird place. It reminded me exactly of Japan in that instance.
Speaking of Japan, when we arrived in Mae Hong Son, three Japanese people got off the minivan with me. I was like, hey, nihon jin? And they were surprised I caould speak Japanese. None of us knew what we were going to do, so we walked together to look for a hostel.
We reached one and had a look, there were two beds in the room and the room was 300b so I grabbed the Japanese girl and said, come on lets share. She was down with that idea so the boys got a room upstairs (200b but they have to use the shared shower.)
These are the coolest Japanese ever :) I think they're so great. We have hung out this whole time, speaking Japanese and sometimes I have to translate into whatever language as much as I can. I don't know that much Thai though so usually it's just Japanese. I'm having a great time!
Last night I schooled everyone at pool and had the strongest lime drink EVER but I really liked it. In fact I think I'll have another one tonight as it was only $1.50.
This morning I got up to see if there were any tours available but not really anything I was interested in, the boys wanted to rent motorbikes so we girls jumped on the back and off we went! Completely in the wrong direction as it turned out, but it was fun a ll the same. We saw a great waterfall, rode some CRAZY hills, passed teh place we were supposed to go 3 times while looking for it and eventually turned onto the right path.
The scenery in this part of Thailand is some of the most beautiful I've ever seen, the sort of thing you wish you could see in Thailand---the green here is so BRIGHT and just amazing. I'm pretty sure the photos won't do it justice...but yeah, rice paddies galore.
So, the place we were headed is quite close to the Burmese border on the map. We didn't know just how close until we got there! But it was crazy, the road turned into just a collection of potholes, then to stones, then to dirt, then everything around us was just brown and Ken was like "um...do people really live out here?" We had been riding ages and finally came to the right place. Then we saw a guy in army uniform and sure enough, I was suddenly staring into burma. We were so excited we started yelling and jumping (and I forgot to get my passport stamped. Idiot) but we got photos and I stood in Myanmar for like twenty seconds. YESSSSS!
Anyway we paid 250baht (steep) to enter the Karen Hillribe village. I know it's dumb but I made her show me where it was written that that's what we had to pay (just in case she was ripping us off.) And she showed me something official so it was OK adn we paid. It was pretty touristy to begin with and we reached the end (looks like for most of them the only English tehy know is "one hundred baht. You buy?" and then I spotted some kids. And everything became awesome. I gave tehm my cameras and they loved it! They had just finished school at 3pm and knew a bit of English, so asked some questions. Kids are just as awesome everywhere in the world and I just love them! They make things so fun! And I wanted to take one home, I had a favourite haha but Sachiko said it was illegal so I said a tearful goodbye. But it's hard to see them living in that place. Outside it says "temporary shelter area" because they're not burmese and apparently not that-they can't have thai ID cards-so they can't do anything or go anywhere, can't own land or get a job. It's sad! And we were there a few hours even though most people just walk through, I was talking to this one lady who spoke English ok, she was amazing, 23 years old had a baby, crazy things around her neck and she said she just does the same things every day and doesn't think she will ever have the chance to do anything else. Our 250b, half goes to them and half goes to the thai government, and they get food from their half. Rice every monday. When we asked her what she would have if she could have anything she wanted every day for one year she said "rice for the village." It was a really great experience for me to see how people live, it's not like I thought at all.
Anyways we made it back in one piece to MHS, I bought a teeshirt from a guy who made his own business, bought for like $6, it's cool. Bought some presents to send home once I get to Chiang Mai. And ate a delicious pad thai at teh night market here. OH one thing to note, days in Thailand 7, injuries sustained:1. I was getting off the motorbike and burned a chunk of skin off my leg which now has been replaced by a huge blister, about six times bigger than the huge bug bites on my legs I sustained at teh village today, there must be some bugs immune to my bug spray. Fleas? Possibly. I poked a dog with my foot but it woke up from its stupor.
Well tomorrow Chiang Mai, will try to eat something that will stay down before I get on the bus :0
Still trying to upload more pictures.
Hope you're all well! Hope to hear from you :)