Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I really like Mae Sot

This morning I immediately left Sukhothai and got on a minibus to Mae Sot.  I could tell I was going to a non-touristy place right away because it was a rickety minibus full of thai people, and no farang.  After getting dropped off at the bus terminal/market I walked to the Green Guest House, which has a very nice garden and a nice lady who runs the place.  I could tell right away that I had found gem #2 of the trip, and realized I would be here longer than a couple days.

The town of Mae Sot is a boarder town with Burma and has a lot of Burmese refugees, the guide book said there were about 150 thousand just in this province alone.  Because of the interesting dynamics of the town it is culturally diverse, with Burmese, Thai, Chinese, and Muslim.  The first question from the guest house owner was if I was a tourist or a volunteer, which shows how many volunteers they have here, or how few tourists.  There were posters around for different volunteer positions showing the need for english teachers and health care probiders.  After talking to the owner for a while I decided that I would spend one day at her kids high school.  She said most people wouldn't do it because if they volunteer they are tired and most other people just come and go.  She said she would talk to the class to see if Friday or Monday would work.  It sounds good because they will do a Thai food teaching thing for me and I'll just talk and be friendly, and it seems like it will be very appreciated.

Another reason I know I will stay longer is that she told me about one hot spring 16 Km to the north of town that people like to visit, and then another one about 40 Km to the south that most people don't visit.  She thought it was funny how excited I was to see hot springs, plus the guide book didn't mention one of them, makes me want to write Lonely Planet about there inadequite coverage of hot springs.  Plus there is an herbal spa in the back of one of the wats in town.  I was sold this place deserves more than a couple days.  If I volunteer on Friday then I may leave after that, but if its Monday then I will probably go to the biggest waterfall in Thailand, which is a good deal south, and then come back for the high school.

For the day I decided to get cheap thai food lunch, then go to the spa, then get some nice italian food at a highly recommended ex-pat resturant at the end of town (I've been waiting to find a good italian place, usually there are tuns because of the ex-pats but this is the first one I've found).  The day went great.  Food was good, then I got a beer at a little place and read a Bangkok Post newspaper I bought (I felt like I needed some news from the world).  Then the spa was great.  It is a bit rustic but all the essentials are there.  The spa is a very hot steam room with a lot of herbal sents in the steam (hotter than the steam room at Banya, and one for girls and one for boys, of course).  Then outside there were lots of benches to chill on, some work out equipment, a place to pour cold water over you, and some herbal tea.  It was a really pleasent experience.  I spent about 2.5 hours there and was the only farang besides one guy who came and left very fast, actually I seemed to stay there longer than anyone.

Last but not least the italian food was great!  Everything I could have expected, perhaps I spent too much but I wanted some good non-thai food (you think you won't ever get tired of thai food but after almost 3 weeks it is a really nice change).  Tomorrow I'm planning on renting a motorbike and seeing the hot springs, then the next day checking out the market (this is suposed to be one of the best markets in Thailand especially for minerals and gems).  

I haven't made any friends here yet and the Dutch girl didn't answer my call, but I like this place so much I don't think I care.  I'm starting to feel the love for solo traveling again because I can randomly choose to stay here for several days and volunteer at the high school, which I did.  So right now I don't know when I'll leave Mae Sot, it may take me longer to get to Pai than I thought it would.  But thats the point of being alone, following my nose and doing what feels right.  I don't think I would feel good about just visiting Mae Sot and not at least helping a little bit, it needs so much help.  Perhaps I will even come back here in the future to volunteer for a longer period of time.  Thats all for now and sorry no pictures for today, I'll try to make up for it in my next post.


  1. Can't wait to hear about your volunteer experience. Must be going to be Monday, and you're now traveling. I am very impressed by your flexibility and insights!

  2. Andy I am really enjoying following your travels through your blog. Thanks for writing and posting.

  3. hi there! i'm on my way to mae sot in a couple of days and am even more excited about it after stumbling across your blog. good luck in your travels!