Well it’s certainly nice to be in Thailand again! Without casting aspersions on the entire Lao population, it’s impossible to ignore how much more friendy the Thai’s are – immediately after crossing the border.
While in Laos, a friend (hi Deb!!) had a little fall on her motorbike on a busy street, and not a single person offered to help her, even when she was struggling to pick up the bike, people just watched from a distance. Compare this to us running out of petrol on our first day in Thailand and having a stranger lend me his motorbike to ride to the closest petrol station to fill an empty container which he also loaned me.
And it’s not about language, or wealth, or exposure to tourism, the Thais are just really generous and helpful, whereas in much of Laos, as another traveller said “if feels like they hate us here”. (I must say though, that the north of Laos is very different to the rest, many small ethnic minorities in the mountains, that were really friendly and welcoming, and if you consider the 2,000,000 tonnes of bombs dropped on Laos it’s not surprising that they’re not so warm to foreigners…).
Thailand also has food other than Pho, which if you’ve been reading, you’ll know makes me happy!
Enough of that, we crossed the border a few days ago, more low level corruption, this time on the Thai side, (they’re not perfect!), where we were asked for 20baht for something I couldn’t work out, then another 200 for something else… as usual we asked for a receipt, which caused a stir, and the boss of customs came over and ripped up the forms we’d just spent ten mins filling in and threw them in the bin before handing us new ones. He angrily explained that if we didn’t want to pay, we had to fill them in ourselves…
“WE JUST FILLED THOSE IN OURSELVES!!!”
“oh, you did… not him?” pointing to the guy behind the window who had asked for the 200 baht (who was now standing there unseccessfully trying not to look stupid)
no, we just did it, WHY DID YOU TEAR THEM UP??!!”
Cue very embarassed border official, instantly apologetic and thus forward very helpful and curteous. Funny.
We spent the night at the border eating not-pho, before riding to Chiang Mai the next day, and eating some more not-pho. Not-pho is my new favourite food 🙂
Last night Sally and I celebrated 4 Years I love you (see previous post with same title) by eating wood fired pizza (aka not-pho) and drinking a litre of red wine, it’s been so long since we ate western food, it was really a treat 🙂
Today we picked up the little honda that we’ve hired for Sally to ride around northern Thailand, and we made about 150km, mostly on tiny little mountain roads to end up in a small town called Chiang Dao (north of Chiang Mai).
During the ride, the road I’d chosen to ease Sal into riding, degenerated from a nice hilly road, into a tiny concrete path, and eventually a dirt road… Which was not part of the plan. We stopped to decide whether to turn back or not, but the first car that came past also stopped to see if we needed some help (love the Thai’s!). He explained that there was only about 1km of this dirt road, before the concrete path resumed to take us back to a normal road another 15km onward.
I was going to ride the dirt part first to see how broken up it was and then come back for Sal, but the friendly Thai man was still waiting to see if we were ok. He judged the look on Sal’s face quite well (fear), and offered to ride her bike for her to the end of the dirt part. “Thank you so much!”
Most people in SE Asia are born already riding motorbikes, so even a sandy dirt road on a bike with road going tyres is pretty easy for them, and we followed him for a few minutes, while his wife followed in the car.
Cop coon cup!!! (thank you in Thai), he waved goodbye with a friendly smile and we were off again.
Now with Sal in front and me following, we wound our way along the path, which turned back into a road (phew!) that followed a river, really pretty. Rounding one of the corners, I saw Sal brake and straighten up, then swerve onto the wrong side of the road… I was about to hit the call button on the intercom when I also had to brake and swerve… to miss an ELEPHANT!!!!!!!
Yes a frikkin ELEPHANT walking down the road. We both passed swearing and staring at the enormous animal, which seemed completely oblivious to us, ambling down the road. I think we were both in a bit of shock as we didn’t even stop for a picture, sorry.
Anyhow, we arrived here for another lovely lunch of not-pho, and are about to go check out the night market that was being set up when we were eating.
Hi to all back home xoxo