Up North Part 2
Its my third and final day in Samnago, province of Tak, an experience I will not forget. So many things we take for granted back home are absent here, microwave, computer, dvd player, running hot water etc. But the people are very happy and satisfied with what they have. Living standard is low, food are very cheap and plentiful. Working hours are long in return for minimal wages that we would laugh at. At the end of the day the whole family sits down together for dinner, talk about their day, joking, laughing, drinking, sharing their basic lives, such warmth and love a lot of western families have no time for because of heavy work schedules. Modern city life is too fast, too cold, too busy for the people to stop and look around themselves to appreciate and treasure what they have. They tend to lose plot of the things that means the most to them – family. Take a page out of the village life, where time stands still, family values are the most important. Basic lives are appreciated with no demands. Its all in the mind. Unfortunately the two cultures will always be worlds apart and will stay that way for a long long time.
Few facts of life in the village. Western insect spray do not work against the local mosquitoes. Take away food are put into clear plastic bags and tied up with rubber bands, including hot soup, always amazes me how these bags never breaks. No food wastage, cow and pig intestines are turned into tasty dishes with vegetables. Even weeds growing along side of the road can be made into spicy dips. There are no cars on the road, only little scooters. A Honda 50cc is the equivalent of a porsche 911. Its not uncommon for a girl to fall pregnant at the age of 16. There are no shopping centres, only corner stores. No cinemas, any form of entertainment are hours away. But just like any other part of Thailand, there are plenty of temples. When a thai rides pass their temple, they sound their horn to show respect. Apart from the Buddha, the king holds the most respect and no one will dare to joke about the king. These facts will seem strange to a farang (westerner) but common in the Thai everyday life.
Now its 6 AM, my girl's mum made breakfast for the family, soya bean milk and rice porridge, not bad. Then everyone are off to work and school. I am still sitting on the floor scratching my legs. Giant mozzies attacked me non stop all night! Every time I squash one another would buzz in my ear. I hate these blood sucking low life creatures that just would not allow me to sleep. For some reason they were only interested in my blood, my girl was snoring and rested comfortably. She laughed at me in the morning that farang blood are more tasty and rich in protein. I was not impressed and ordered her to get some cream for me. Apart from the mozzie bites I felt great, sleeping on a hard mattress on the floor is really good for one's back. Janjira got the cream for me then started packing our bags for the return trip to Bangkok. No way I could face another 8 hour "VIP" bus ride, I called my travel agent the previous day and booked 2 seats on the one hour flight from Mae Sot to Bangkok. Mae Sot is the closest town to Tak with an airport and is about 2 hours away by local taxi (small vans). I thought two hours in the van and one hour in the plane will surely beat the eight hour bus ride hands down. Darling has only travelled to and from Bangkok by bus and is quite excited about the plane ride. Late morning we got on the ten seater mini van and headed for Mae Sot. About forty minutes into the ride the van pulled over on the side of the road, I looked out the window and saw four Thai army soldiers carrying rifles. Its an army road block! Because Mae Sot is very close to the Thailand / Myanmar (Burma) border, drugs are frequently smuggled across illegally by the drug lords. These army road blocks randomly check passing vehicles for drugs. Two soldiers walked over to our van, one started talking to the driver and the other one checked passenger's id cards and bags for drugs. When it was my turn I showed my passport and received one cold suspicious stare from the solider. He was probably thinking what the hell is this farang doing here? There is nothing for a tourist in this part of the country. Darling started talking to him in Thai explaining who I am and what I was doing in northern Thailand. The soldier seemed satisfied and carried on checking other id's. But what a fright! It was the last thing I expected. They could have locked me up in the local prison if they didn't like me and darling was not there to explain. We all heard about "Bangkok Hilton"! I saw my life flashed before my eyes and thanked Budda (much to darling's approval) for helping me through.
After all the IDs were checked we were on our way but guess what? Another forty minutes into the trip and it was another army road block! An instant replay of a nightmare. Same thing, id cards and bags were checked. Darling had to once again explain why this stupid farang was here. Then the van was allowed to go through. I thanked Buddha one more time, wholeheartedly.
We arrived at Mae Sot, walked over to the airport and boarded the flight. Twin engine 30 seats but only half full. During the flight we got a lunch box each containing a drink and two pieces of cakes. Smooth flight and we arrived at Bangkok safely an hour later. Hopped into a taxi straight to The Landmark Hotel at Nana. We checked in, went up to the room and opened the door, what a sight it was! King size bed, computer on the desk, tv, hi fi, beautiful curtains and carpet, separate bath and shower. What a difference compared to the village! I jumped into bed and started bouncing up and down. Darling said to me "you baba bobo!" (crazy) No darling, just glad to be back in civilisation.
Two more days of shopping in Bangkok and I will fly home. Darling will catch the VIP bus back to Tak. Do I have one hell of a story to tell my friends? Its been an adventure I would treasure always. And will I be going into the jungle again? I would hit myself but I think so. That's where darling's family lives. As Arnie would say in The Terminator, "I'll be back". Why? One and only one reason. Janjira, I love you with all my heart forever.