. Burma always used to drive on the left hand side of the road but on the day of their independence from the UK their new boss decided that he would change prioritities to the right hand side. Didint change any sings, traffic lights etc but hey ... that was a long time ago. With Thailand still driving on the left traffic has to cut from one side of the road to the other whenever it feels like it as it passes over the less tha n 100m bridge. Notice that the Burmese flag that flies all long the bridge along with the Thai flag has changed and can vaguely remember something about this on the news here last year. Have not actually been into Tachilek on the Burmese side for about 4 years so thought a short visit was due. Usually have the option of giving the Burmese immigration either 500 Thai Baht or USD10. A sign of the times then when the official told me that no, dollars were no good and I must pay in Thai Baht. With the current exchange rates USD10 is about 310 Bht so can understand. Maybe they should just up prices to USD15 ... Leaving immigration I enter Tachilek where I am instantly offered a taxi and a clean lady - Not mentioned so I guess the taxi was dirty. When I refused both I was given the look that said, well, what else are you going to do here, and he had a point. The street market that fills all of the side streets sells endless cheap CDs, DVDs, and electrical goods brought down from China. I am followed by a young chap who seems convinced that I should buy some viagra - whose been talking ? After less than 10mins I had had enough and made my way back to immigration to collect my passport
. Have to collect it from the other side of the road and as my visit was so brief they cannot find my passport in the office when I get there. One of the officials has to cross to the arrival office and collect it for me and doesnt look very pleased about having to have got off his arse. Back into Thailand with another 60 day visa to take me into the middle of February. Grab a snack from the 7/11 then wait for the bus to arrive. Everyone is punctual for a change and we are back on the road by 13:00, quick stop at a cashew nut place as per usual and we are back in Chiangmai with stiff legs and a numb bum by about 17:00 and back at Kong Court by 17:30.
Go out to eat at Sugar Bar again then back to the room. All of these hours on the buses over the last week are taking their toll and I am knackered so another early night to bed.
As I have to be up early to be picked up I do the breakfast run to the market first. I leave Jai in bed not feeling too well and wait outside the guest house for the minibus to arrive. A full bus of punters and quite a mixed bag enthusiastically set off northwards. I give a quick 'wai' at the spirit houses by the side of the road as we climb up into the mountains. I figure that any chances of good luck whilst having to spend 10 hours on a Thai road with MIchael Schumacher at the wheel were worth trying for. We stop at the usual hot springs for a toilet break after an hour or so and if anything it looks even more developed than last time I was here. They have built small concrete waterways with pools every now and then where you can sit and soak your feet in the hot water and that was actually quite pleasant. Would be even niced on the return journey but dont usually stop here on the way back. Reach Mae Sai at 12:00 midday and the border looks quiet which is good news. Clear Thai immigration and walk across the bridge dodging the little bit of traffic on the way over