We had finally made it away from Laos (for me it was nice to say we’d been there but i’m in no rush to go back), and touched down on familiar soil. I love Thailand, the people are so friendly and welcoming, things are cheaper, and although there is an occasional waft of sewage, it’s overall a beautiful country. The three of us walked up the beach (looking like soldiers from Normandy, if the.soldiers were there on vacation) until we reached the visa office. Sarah encouraged us to move quickly to avoid the queues, it worked as we were at the front, the guard then handed us a form to fill out. Sarah and I did ours quite quickly, handed it in, then received our fifteen day tourist visa. During that time Brandon was filling his out, when all of a sudden, this very thin girl from Switzerland began talking with us and invited herself to join us, as she too had to arrange transport for herself. We moved over to a wall where we waited for Brandon to queue up and get his visa sorted, somehow he ended up at the end of the line.
It was ten minutes before he got to us, the whole time Sarah and I made awkward conversation with the new girl. We managed to negotiate a price with a tuktuk driver who drove us to the bus station. Seeing as the four of us hadn’t prepaid for a nice bus in Chang Rai, we had to take a local one instead. It was an experience to say the least, the doors remained open the whole way and it took around fifteen minutes before the thing picked up speed. After out curb crawling vessel got going we made regular stops to pick people up, one passenger climbed aboard with a baby, we did our best to make faces at him, to which he laughed initially, before losing interest in us and began screaming. The ride was around two hours before we arrived at the bus station in Chiang Rai, here, we said goodbye to the self inviting stranger then our next task was to find a hostel. Before I could get out of the bus, Sarah and Brandon were already in talks with a tuktuk driver, who would clearly receive commission if he took us to the hostel he showed them on a pamphlet. We climbed in the three seater with all our bags and went to his recommendation, we sent Brandon out to look around, however, he wasn’t impressed with the room or it’s price on accounts of it not having a proper third bed.
With that, we attempted to ask the driver if there were any more hostels, hotels or guesthouses around that area, when all of a sudden he conveniently forgot how to speak English. Frustrated, Sarah climbed out of the vehicle, yanked out her bag, and said “let’s just walk around until we find something.” We walked half a mile not finding anything until we saw a seven eleven, thinking they’d speak English, we entered and asked if they knew of anything local, they didn’t. We walked a bit farther where I spotted an opticians, knowing they spoke some degree of English (from the time I bought glasses in Pai) we entered. They didn’t know of any places to stay but they did know of a cafe with WiFi, this was very helpful as it meant we could use the internet to get a map of the area. We walked through the market opposite until we came out the other side on a busy street, we saw a hotel and decided to have a look just out of interest. At under five pounds each per night they were fairly cheap, and, when we looked at one of the rooms we discovered why. The walls resembled that of a prison cell, and the decor looked like that of a hospital from some sort of war movie.
We left swiftly, where opposite the building was the cafe we were told of named Destiny. It was ran by three Australians which made the whole language barrier obsolete, here, we used their internet and ordered some food and drinks. I was very happy, as they sold vanilla milkshakes which is by far the greatest drink on earth. Sarah found a great hostel online but by the time we tried to book it, it was already taken. We asked the guys if they had any recommendations on places to stay, one guy said a place called Ben’s Guesthouse… SOLD, with a title like that it was bound to be good, he gave us directions on a self drawn map and we began walking. We made it pretty far ourselves, but, when a tuktuk pulled up beside us we were very quick to take up his offer of driving us the rest of the way. We pulled up outside my….. I mean Ben’s Guesthouse, where we were greeted by one of the staff. She told us a price of a private room and said they’d have to bring in a couple of mattresses to make up a third bed, we agreed, and My Guesthouse was where we’d stay for our one and only night in Chiang Rai.
We stayed at the guesthouse for the remainder of the afternoon, during which time, the barrel chested superman had one of his regimented power naps (four to five hours isn’t a nap Brandon) meanwhile, Sarah and I spent the time around the pool. After swimming, the two of us returned to the room and showered, it was here that Sarah became stricken with fear that the chlorine might have changed the colour of her hair as it had turned the white bits of her bikini green. When we were dried and dressed, we woke the moustache monster and encouraged him to join us for food.
After going to reception to see where the nearest market was, we were given a map with directions to guide us. The three of us took off and walked a mile down the road before meeting a mini street festival. There was a live band on a large stage, and food stalls ran all the way down either side of the street. Before we reached either of these, we were distracted by a tree which had lots of miniature shiny cones hanging from it’s branches, it was played in a similar fashion to that of the fishing for ducks game you’d find at any carnival. The aim of the game was to use a long stick and hook one of the cones off, and, what ever number was written inside would be matched to a prize with the same one. The prizes weren’t that great, they ranged from crisps to duvets, Brandon couldn’t resist and bought a few tickets to have several goes. He managed to hook one every time, unfortunately, all he won was a bag of crisps, some spaghetti sticks, and two plastic containers…. worst.prizes.ever.
We bought some food and headed off to a Saturday night market. At this particular market both Brandon and I were presently surprised, as this time around they had different items to that of ever other market we had been to before. The clothes were more appealing to me (as they had superheroes printed on them, yay) as well as having guy gadgets in the form of electronics. They also had wallets which coincidentally we were talking about buying before we left our resort. After we walked around the stalls, I decided I wanted a massage, as up until then I hadn’t had one and my back was aching from the long bus journey. We located the strip where all the massages were taking place, then found a tent with a couple free masseuse. I only paid for a half an hour massage whereas Brandon paid for a full hour (he chose half an hour foot, and half an hour back, talk about spoiling yourself). I was told to sit on a chair, which made the whole experience not as enjoyable as it could have been if I were allowed to lye on the bed. At the end of my half an hour, I did feel slightly more limber than I did at the beginning regardless, and will most likely be investing in another massage in the future.
I left Brandon to enjoy his last half an hour and decided to go find Sarah, earlier in the evening she was talking about corn on the cob, so, I walked against the human traffic until I reached the food stalls. I located one final piece, not knowing if she had bought any herself and being the best boyfriend in the world I bought it for her (NOW, for the record, if Sarah ever has anything bad to say about me just be sure to refer to this and say “he wasn’t told to buy it, he did it off his own accord”). I couldn’t find Sarah anywhere, with that, I returned to Brandon to see if she was there, when I got to him, he was face down on a bed having his back worked on. He told me Sarah hadn’t returned in my absence, so I continued my one man search party. During this time it began to rain, it then waited formkemto be in the middle of the market before the floodgates opened and it poured down. It was funny to witness a whole market pack up within five minutes, literally, it was like watching a time lapse in fast forward.
Needless to say I was soaked through to the bone, as well as being a laughing stock for all the locals that took shelter under the nearby buildings, I felt like Neo in the third matrix movie when he walks by all the agent Smiths. In the end I gave up looking for Sarah and rejoined Brandon under the massage tent. His hour was soon up and we were about to leave, when all of a sudden Sarah appeared out of nowhere….. DRY. The reason I couldn’t find her, she was getting her nails done to look like strawberries.
As you can see it was definitely worth me getting wet for, the best bit, Sarah didn’t even seem that sorry to hear I had been out looking for her. However, if the roles were reversed, I am sure I would have heard no end to it if she were the one who got drenched. Being the super cool laid back guy I am (not to brag) I let it slide, and the three of us headed home (there’s another story you can throw in her face if she’s ever horrible about me behind my back, only this time guys say this “two good deeds in one night! Who is this angel you’re dating Sarah?).
On the way we stopped in the shop we grew to love, the local seven eleven, where we bought some toasted sandwiches. We continued walking until Brandon stopped a tuktuk to drive us the last half mile. When he dropped us off he asked for sixty baht, where before getting in he thought the driver said twenty. With Brandon refusing to pay, the driver tried thrusting the money back, and said to him “you bad person, I’ll be back,” (like a rubbish terminator) not understanding what he meant, Sarah walked up and paid him the correct money. She seemed to think he was probably of Buddhist beliefs, so because he saw Brandon as a bad person that was why he wouldn’t take his money. With the commotion settled we returned to our room where Sarah looked for a hotel in Chiang Mai. I did my best to stay awake and help out, unfortunately, because I only had a maximum of two hours sleep in the past twenty four plus hours, I passed out, but don’t forget, I did buy her corn and got soaked for her!