Friday, February 20, 2009

Still in Mae Hong Son

This place is starting to grow on me. I've had a couple really nice days here. Apparently there are refugees here and poverty from Myanmar but they hide it better here than in Mae Sot. Everyone just pretends like it isn't happening, even though the lowest class workers are Burmese. And the main ethnic group is different. It is Shan people up here, and Shan in Myanmar, so the refugees or Burmese people are not looked down upon as much or as desperate as the Karen people down south. Also apparently the Shan are successfully fighting the Burmese government to the point that there is a free Shan part of Myanmar (I know I'm using both names but thats how it is here). I've heard the Shan are more successful fighting because they have more support from Thai people and the Thai government, so they have good weapons to fight with, unlike the Karen.

So, a couple days ago, after ripping into Thai culture on here, I just had a peaceful dinner by myself and went to sleap. The next day I woke up a little late and went out to wander the town and find a place to trade my book. Out my door I got caught by the girl at my guest house, who was trying to sell me tours (by now I don't think she likes me because I haven't done any tours, and I think she insults me to my face in Thai because she knows I can't understand). I talked for a while but eventually left without doing what she wanted me to.

I found this wonderful resturant, and it has treated me great. They have an actual give and take bookshelf, which is why I found it. Then I met a guy (from the Santa Cruz mountains) and his wife (Thai) who live outside of town. They turned on the BBC, so I saw some news, and we hit it off talking about stuff. We set it up so I would call him the next day in the morning and he would show me a little natural hot spring in the middle of fields, and some pools below the waterfall everyone goes to near here. Plus I saw what he was eating and ordered the same thing. It was an amazing BLT with home made bread, and was just wonderful!

After he left I decided to stay in the resturant and drink some tea watching the news. Soon after he left though another solo traveler arrived and we started talking. He was from San Fran and had been coming to Mae Hong Son for 15 years. Now he has a Thai wife and just moved to Chang Mai from the US so his 5 year old daughter could go to school here. He is just here hanging out at his old favorite place in Thailand while his family is still in Chang Mai. He is a character who wants me to write a screen play with him, I laugh and he says he's not joking. We made plans to meet later for food and drinks.

That resturant just treated me great as far as meeting people, and food. When I was alone I decided to walk up this hill next to town with a Wat on it, to see the town from up high, and the Wat I guess. On the way I saw the Belgium couple and made plans to meet them for drinks in the early evening. The hill wat was nice, and the view was good, but there was a lot of smoke yesterday from the slash and burn agriculture (but really they are just burning everything not just dry crops).

Mae Hong Son, my guest house is on the left side of the lake

The wat with Burmese style Cheda's (the pointy things)

My evening and night was very nice. I hung out with the Belgium couple at there bungalow drinking rum and passionfruit. Then we separated for dinner and I went to meet the San Fran guy. After he finished his beer we went to the good resturant and then it turned out the Belgium couple was there. We all laughed and they made jokes about me following them. It was interesting because politics came up and the conversation was strange. I know the husband was having a good time, but I think the wife didn't really like the San Fran guy.

After dinner the San Fran guy showed took me to a little local bar he had found the day before. That was fun because there was a nice group of locals and like 4 of them could speak ok english. One was way too drunk, his brother was a really nice guy who was an artist, a couple others were photographers (one for national geographic, the Thai edition), and the other owned the bar. I had a good time, and went to bed around midnight.

Today was a great day so far. The guy I met the day before picked me up from the resturant and I had breakfast while I waited for him. He took me to his property, where he has a really nice teak house, and then we walked through the fields near his property to the hot spring. It was another sulfer spring that was very hot and came out right into a cold river. There was no soaking place but it was really cool, I guess it gets completely covered in the rainy season by the river. It was also cool because he said the locals around him always wondered why he thought the place was special, and then when we got there, there were offerings around the spring.

Me next to the little springs
After seeing that we had some lunch at a little place near his property and then went to the waterfall. It was a cool waterfall, but the pools he showed me below them were way cooler. And it was nice because no one else was there, even though tons of people see the waterfall. He is a really good person and it was nice to hang out with him for the day, and talk a bit about thai culture. After that he just took me back to my guest house and now I am here.

the main waterfall

The pool the guy took me to

I think the other day I ripped into Thai culture a bit too much, even though everything I said is true. The class thing and the face thing are here but thats an Asia issue and apparently it is way milder here than in other countries. And there is the extreme kindness that I had expressed in earlier posts. That does stand out, I think it is part of there culture to be relaxed and kind, but farang also do see it at an extreme because we are the highest class possible. I still agree with everything I said about the monks, but the people in general seem to be devout buddhists and live accordingly. And the worship of the almighty dollar really is the western influence on the country, so I have to look at my own culture as far as that is concerned and can't judge them because of it.

Thats all for now. I think I'll stay here for another day, rent a motorbike, and see some the developed hot springs around here, and maybe some other stuff too. Then I'm off the Pai, which many people say they love, but I also here a lot of bad things about from some of the travelers I've met. Thats one of the reasons I'm staying here for another day and spending less time in Pai. Peace and love to all!


  1. Hi Andy, I miss seeing people write their comments. I guess most people email you. Will you be seeing D, G, S, etc. soon? Your blog is fun to read... your comments about the kindness of the people. And what about those monks? Are they celibate and not practicing,or is celibacy not part of their religion?

  2. People just don't comment as much I guess, I miss them also. And, some monks are ok, but some are not. Because of the not good ones it puts doubt on the whole situation. Celibacy is supposed to be part of the religion but it doesn't seem to matter.