Experience Part 2
Last time I mentioned that I spent some time with this Thai woman who had cut her wrists, as I said I had to part with her after that, well in the time since then I have met her on two occasions, not in a bar but walking along Sukumvit and I was very happy to see that she seems to be more stable now, but you never know.
Anyway, I headed for Phuket Town to get to the bus station, met a couple of Europeans there who were going to Chiang Mai also. London guy had gone ahead as I had woken up late and he doesn’t hang around for no one. I thought to myself ‘should I make this trip alone’. I didn’t have a Lonely Planet or anything like that so I was completely ignorant about Thailand. “Sod it” I thought, why not just go and check it out for a few days and then go back to Bangkok and get a flight home.
One hour later I am sitting on a bus with some Swedes heading for Bangkok, we stop at one of them roadside gaffs for a bite to eat, rice soup with some shite in it and I spot London sitting alone at a table, I take my bowl over and join him, I make a remark about the rice soup saying that there is no way I can eat it, him being a old hand eats his and then eats mine. A good guy to be traveling with I thought, he certainly knew the score about Thailand and was easy company.
Long bus trip later and we arrive in Bangkok in the early hours, London guy, a Swede and myself are all heading for Chiang Mai so we (London) makes the decision to go straight there that day from Bangkok. He tells us to wait while he gets a tuktuk, next thing this tuktuk comes whizzing around the corner and we jump in, the driver was not happy as London had agreed a price with him for one person and that’s all he was going to pay. The driver then bombed it through the streets of Bangkok to Kao San Rd. I nearly shit myself, this was my first road trip in Bangkok, I thought there was a strange smell in the air and also the fumes from the traffic were not good. We jumped out at Kao San Rd, which was deserted at 6.00 am. The Swede and myself gave the driver some extra cash as he wasn’t happy with London, he gave a nod of the head and sped off.
London tells us the train for CM leaves at 3 or 4 in the afternoon so we have some time to burn. Everywhere on Kao San is closed so we head for Banglamphu, he tells us he has many friends there, he wasn’t lying either. We would go from one tea shop to the next, he would speak with the owners who behaved like they genuinely liked the guy. We must have marched about 2-3 km in a few hours, bags and all and I started to get a bit tired so I suggested we sit off somewhere and have a beer. We went to Sanam Luang. Seemed just like a big oval field with loads of birds pestering us every time we ate food. We sit there, drinking Chang (nectar) and just while some time away, then Swede produces a pack of cards. Great some entertainment, we start playing just for fun, winning and losing a couple of baht here and there. Before we know it there is a small crowd of people surrounding us. We just carried on, then a police officer came over and had a few words with us, we explained that were just having a bit of fun and London told him that no money was involved. He didn’t care, he said that he would be back in five minutes and if we were still there he would arrest us. Welcome to Bangkok.
Needless to say we got our gear together and headed back to Kao San Rd. Some places had opened and we just sat off there for a few hours. As the day went on I couldn’t believe the numbers and the variety of people who hung around there. Drank some more Chang and then set off to Hualamphong to catch the train to Chiang Mai. I felt I could have stayed in Kao San Rd (I cannot stand the place now) for a few days and was a little reluctant to leave as there were some hot Euro babes there. Anyway, we left and began the journey to Chiang Mai.
Got on the train, it was all alien to me, I had never seen a train with beds before (have I led a sheltered life?). Once settled in, Swede and me went to the buffet carriage, had a few drinks and ate food, then taught a few German couples some card games. It was going to be a long night so I got smashed on Mekhong and a couple of pills I had bought from Phuket.
Back to my bunk and slept like a log, remember getting pushed by Swede, yelling at me to wake up as we had arrived. Again it was the early hours of the morning, Chiang Mai had a much cleaner smell than Bangkok, very fresh. Jumped in a tuktuk and London took us to his regular guesthouse. Again he was treated like an old friend there and we were made to feel welcome. It was run by a nice family, old grandpa, wife and husband and a couple of kids. I think grandpa was the security guard there.
Got a good kip there and then headed out into the night. Met this English girl (space cadet) who had just come from Ko Pagn Nagn, who was totally spaced out. She took me to this bar by the river which was really chilled. The bar consisted of a few bar stools and a couple of tables with chairs. She bought some smoke there and began rolling. I have smoked before in the U.K. so thought my tolerance level was high but this stuff was strong. Now I know why when I met her she seemed to be spaced. I joined her after a couple of joints. The bar had a few regulars there who I got to know. These guys spend six to nine months in Chiang Mai every year, getting stoned and pissed. Funny guys, well they were once I had smoked some (anything or anyone was).
The time came for this girl to leave and head back to the U.K. Before she left she told me about her time on Ko Pagn Nagn. The parties, people, mushrooms, cookies, I must admit I was intrigued. She gave me the address of some bungalows, told me to mention her name if and when I got there. Nice girl, just a bit too spaced out for my liking though.
Once she left I decided to give this particular bar a miss and try and find some ladies. Swede, London and I went around many bars, although they did not like the beer bars so we mostly ended up in discos etc (we sort of drifted apart after a few days). Not bad though, some nice girls there. One night I felt this hand on my arse, I usually keep my money in my arse pocket as I do not like to carry my wallet with me, so I thought someone was trying to dip me. I turned around and saw this beauty smile at me and then walk away, I quickly checked my pocket, my money was still there and a little piece of paper. She had written her name, tel no: the name of the hotel and room number on it. This place is great, I had a couple of more drinks and a scout around. I then went to the hotel and there she was waiting for me. This is where I discovered what “freelance” meant. Cracking time had there though, so much different from the cat & mouse games in the U.K.
Went to another bar and I really took a fancy to the girl who was serving the drinks there. I would sit there for a few hours every night chatting to her, as far as I could see, she never went with anyone, told me she was studying and would be going to Japan in the future to join her sister and husband. I have to admit I pestered her to come out with me, but she could only finish work when the last punter had left, there was no bar fine or anything there, in fact as far as I can remember there was only two girls working there. I thought I will go and see her tonight and ask her out again, if she says no, I will just move on. Yes, she will meet me when the bar closes, it closed at 3-4 in the morning, I took her to the 7-11 as everywhere was closed (I am a classy guy). Then we went back to my room. She told me she had never slept with anyone before, which I find hard to believe now but I did then. We had a nice three or four nights/mornings/days together, but again I was afraid she was taking the same path as the girl in Phuket and was starting to fall for me as I was certainly falling for her.
So I decided to give the bar a miss for a while and went back to the smokers lounge on the river where I went on my first night. I was having a drink and this guy came in and told me he had just come back from a trip in the mountains. Everything he described to me sounded great. Being an impulsive type of guy I hired a bike the next day and decided to take a trip on the ring road from Chiang Mai to Pai to Mai Hong Son and then back to Chiang Mai (I think). Didn’t have a map or anything (f#ckin’ idiot) so just followed what road signs I could read. Apart from a pain in the arse the ride was great, up and down hills, winding roads, this is the life I thought.
Then I realised it was starting to get late in the day and my tank needed filling if I was to go any further. I started to worry as I hadn’t seen any of them roadside petrol vendors for hours. An hour later and panic began to set in, what the f#ck have I done, rode all this way, now the sun is starting to set and am lost. I saw I sign for a lodge of some sort 20kms back so I turned the bike around and tried to find it. At the sign I took a turn off the main road onto a red clay dirt track. I had to drive almost an hour on this track, right up the side of a mountain, very narrow track and a steep drop, surrounded by dense forest, it was dark and to be honest, scary. I saw some flickering lights ahead and much to my relief there was a small village there, as soon as I entered ten or so children came running over laughing and wanting to touch and pat me. Strange place but nice people (the adults had black teeth), in one way or another they directed me to the lodge I was looking for. Another 15 minutes or so and I reached the lodge.
When I parked up the bike I was so relieved. I made my way to the balcony, sat down, talked to the boss and gulped down some Chang. I didn’t know, but driving on that dirt tract had made all my hair and face go red from the clay dust. The boss gave me a mirror about an hour after arriving so I could see myself, God knows what them children must have thought when I rode into the village ( a red haired/faced farang on a bike). Got a bite to eat there and was joined by this guy from the States who had been staying there for a couple of nights. One downside to this place is that there were no women, apart from the bosses wife, but I do value my life so she was definitely out of bounds.
Again me being ignorant I didn’t know what the main line of business was here in the lodge, I thought it was just a stopover. I was sitting with the American and this old guy comes from nowhere and points to a pipe he is holding. I smoke sure, but I’m not into pipes. The American gives the old guy some baht and gets some brown/black stuff back in return. Really I did not know anything about opium. The boss comes and joins us and asks if we would like to go and sit off in his house. Sure why not. The house is about 30 steep steps up a hill. It is a bit of struggle to get up there, but once there we go inside and I felt like I had gone into a time warp or something. Open fire, no T.V., a man sitting in the corner playing some strange instrumental music. The American just grins at me. The boss tells me to go and sit next to his father who is lying on a bed near the fire, the next thing I know I am lying next to him while he fills this pipe with the opium, he passes it to me and the rest is history.
That night has to be one of strangest of my life, I was drifting in and out of a trance like state, feeling totally comfortable and not threatened at all. I had known this guy for only a couple of hours, he could of done anything to me, but he treated me very well. Sure I had to pay something for the numerous pipes I had, no more than a couple of hundred baht though and I had never experienced a feeling like it.
Time went by and it was getting late, the boss said he would see us the next day and to have a good sleep, no problem I thought. The US man had consumed as much if not more than me and had trouble standing up. Once he went out the door he seemed to forget that the house was on a hill and went flying down the steps. I was wrecked and just stood there with a grin from ear to ear. We went down to see him and put him in his room, if he hadn’t have been stoned I guess it would have hurt him a lot more, but in the end, apart from a swollen arm and a couple of cuts to his face he was O.K.
Next day I woke up and felt fine, I went and ate some breakfast only to throw it back up once it had reached my stomach. A side effect from the smoking. Went and had a nap and was woken with knocking on my door. The room I was staying in was a small wooden/clay hut with a single mattress and an open fire it also had a cement block filled with water so you could bath. The boss had come to see if I was O.K. I got up and went for a walk with him, within a few minutes we were walking through fields of plants. We were talking about life in general and he then put his arm around me and told the plants in these fields (as far as the eye could see) were poppies, from which came the opium. I just stood there amazed at the amount of crops he had, he must have been a rich man. A nice guy, down to earth and friendly, I could not resist going back to see him on my last trip to Chiang Mai.
I spent four days there at the lodge, some days lost I think being in an opium induced haze, but if I had the choice I would do it all again (in fact I did). Don’t get me wrong, I am not into hard drugs and I would not touch the stuff anywhere else apart from that place. I think you would have to be there to understand. It really is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
Back on my bike, say goodbye to Boss and family and the American (still nursing his wounds) and set off back to the civilization of Chiang Mai. This time I had not made it to Pai or Mae Hong Son, so I had a good excuse to make the trip in the future. I had been missing my girl the last couple of days/nights so decided to go and see her. She was very different when I came back, said she had fallen for me and felt very hurt when I went up to “them there” mountains. I saw what was coming and knew I did not want to string her along so I wished her the best and said goodbye. During the next week I visited a few more bars, kept a few more ladies company and then I felt ready to tackle the trip to Mae Hong Son via Pai via the lodge.
Yes I made it to Mae Hong Son eventually, although I had a couple of scares along the way, between the lodge and Pai I ran out of petrol, I was lucky as I could get by a few Kms here and there by going downhill but had to wait a few hours until a guy came along with his girlfriend, they had a bottle of petrol spare and gave me enough to get to the next shop. I was carrying some ganja with me at the time which I bought in Chiang Mai, I am was not a big smoker but I used to like a joint now and again. Approaching Mai Hong Son I saw a military checkpoint, again I began to panic, I had less than an oz on me but had not expected to get stopped anywhere so just kept it in my pocket. I pulled up, smiled like an idiot and then one of soldiers approached me as if he was after something, then I clicked, yes they wanted a smoke, so I gave the soldiers there a couple of packets of LM and they let be on my way. Relief isn’t the word.
Not much happened in Pai and Mae Hong Son, guess I was just in a daze most of the time. Went back to Chiang Mai, stayed a few more nights and then I woke up one morning and decided to go back to the U.K. to tie up all the loose ends and then come and live in Thailand.
I enjoyed a little more time in Bangkok, staying not so far from Nana. This was the first time I had spent the nighttime in Bangkok and it was great. The go-go’s, bars, food and most of all the lovely ladies. Yes I was definitely coming back, but where should I go next? I then remembered the time I spent with the English girl in Chiang Mai, what was the name of the place she said? Ko Pagn Nagn, yes that’s it. I could not pronounce it but upon my return to LOS that would be my next destination………
I returned a few months later and will write about my time in KPN soon…..till next time.
Sounds like you had a great adventure.