Bright Lights, Big City

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Where I stayed
Chiang Mai Loft Residence

Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, May 25, 2009

Went into Chiang Mai for the weekend and stayed at CM Loft Residence, where a studio apartment with satellite TV (I watched The Daily Show in English!!!), A/C, a comfy queen size bed, hot and cold shower, western toilet with paper, and a balcony with an out of this world view can be yours for $140 US per month.

It was in a residential neighborhood in a part of town unfamiliar to me.  I found a market and great Thai food.  Also found a 3rd class bus station, which means you find great food--farangs do not ride 3rd class buses, bus stations are surrounded by food stalls, so the food is cooked spicy and priced cheap, as all customers--except, of course, for Wandering_man--were Thai.

Had quite a songthaew adventure this morning.  Songthaaews are color coded-I know I need to get a yellow songthaew to get back to the farm.  I also know that Central (the main songthaew transfer station) is between where I am staying and the farm, so I will have to go to Central first. (Kinda like the old Confederate joke--"When you die, you may go to heaven or you may go to hell, but you will definitely first have to change trains in Atlanta".)

So I flag a yellow songthaew and ask "You go Central;?". "Yes, get in".  We have 5 passengers.  He drives in precisely the wrong direction for 10 minutes, then pulls over and shuts off his motor, gets out, and eats breakfast.  When his belly is full, we start out again.  another 10 minutes or so and we pull up to a house--he blows his horn--nobody comes out.  He goes in and 10 minutes later he comes out wiht a guy toweling his wet hair who boards the songthaew.

We make so many turns I am disoriented but pretty certain I am not near Central and not heading towards the farm.  He pulls over in a village called Hang Dong- we are no longer in Chiang Mai--and tells me to get out, points down a side road and says "Central that way".

I start walking and find a cop, who tells me Central is 6 kilometers. I flag another songthaew and get to Central and find the fleet of yellow songthaews.  I am relieved to know where I am. 

I go up to a group of the yellow songthaew drivers who are sitting and smoking under a tree.  I tell them I am going to Doi Saket and ask "Doi Saket?".

Friends, I speak no Thai and  none of them spoke English. But this should be easy, right? One of them will nod his head or one will point to the Doi Saket songthaew.

But I was being overly assuming.

The drivers had a lengthy discussion amongst themselves, then one apparently appoinoted spokesman rose and gave me a lengthy answer with many words, not one of which I understood. He did not point, nod, or shake his head no.

ARGGGHH!

I call Sai Moon at the farm, who speaks fluent Thai. I tell him my situation and hand the phone to the spokesman, Sai Moon explains, then I am directed to the correct songthaew, where the driver points at the "6" on his watch, indicating that he would leave at 8:30 (it was 8:00).

I decide to have a bowl of kway teow gai (chicken rice noodle soup) at Central--about 10 feet from my songthaew.  At this point I had decided that it was worth doing a Travel Pod entry on the songthaew experience, so I would take some pics.

Then the songthaew fired up--at 8:20!- and I had visions of missing my ride, so I paid the noodle lady and rushed to board, LEAVING MY CAMERA at the noodle shop.

I figured it out in about 2 kilometers. Crap, the driver spoke ne English--that I already knew- and I could never explain my situation in a way he would understand.  So I once again called Sai Moon, who asked the driver to call back to Central and have someone snag the camera and we could hook up later.

After talking with the driver, Sai Moon tells me the driver has no phone numbers for anyone at Central.  I am heartsick.  Just then, the driver makes a U-turn and drives at high speed back to Central to the noodle shop, where the noodle lady had secured my camera in the event of my return.

Friends, the noodle shop lady sells bowls of soup all day and most of the night for 20 baht a bowl --about 65 cents.  She could have sold the camera for more money than she clears in a month. But she didn't.

I gave her and the songthaew driver each 200 baht --she did not want to take it, he was more sanguine.  So today I experienced the Yin and the Yang of the transportation racket in Chiang Mai, and the goodness of a kind woman.  Wandering_man knows two Buddhists who made much merit today.
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Comments

starlagurl
starlagurl on

Wow!
What a wonderful story! Lucky to you to have gotten your camera back. I for one, had mine stolen in Bangkok... *small tear*

Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager

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