30.12.2011 29 °C
After a disappointing night in Pai, we packed up and got back on the road to Mae Hong Son. We knew the roads weren't getting any straighter, but maybe the sites would be better. It was only 130 kms on day two, but it was equally as rough as the day before. The good news was that there was no traffic to speak of and we saw some amazing landscapes when the clouds cleared a little. We checked into our hotel and immediately went into town to find a travel planner that spoke a little english and could arrange our trip to visit the hillside tribes and to the long necked ladies from Burma that now live in this area. The town is pretty small with a little lake surrounded by a market, some restaurants and a few temples. We explored that, booked our trip and found some food before we went and crashed out for the night. The lady that organized our trip was very impressed that we had driven ourselves and asked if we knew that there were 1864 corners on our road trip thus far....we hadn't counted...but we had felt every one of them.
We got up early and noticed how close our room was to a temple, it made for quite the sunrise. There were two other couples on our tour for the day, one from Quebec City and one from Chicago and it was great to have fun people that spoke english along for the ride. In the morning we toured a few local villages to see how the people in the hills lived. It was the first time we have done a tour with no crowds, in fact, we were always the only tourists wherever we went. It made for a really great experience. In the afternoon we took a speedboat down a river to a village where we spent a few hours with a village of Burmese refugees that moved to Thailand generations ago so they could live in peace. I'm not sure Nat is going to need a 20 pound gold necklace for her birthday, but it was amazing to see for sure.
As we finished our day we both agreed that we had had enough of our road trip adventure and we were going to cut it short and get back to Chiang Mai. Really, we want to get back to the beach but our flight isn't until the first so we may as well see some more of the town. Our new friends from Quebec were having similar thoughts so we offered them a ride and we decided to drive the rest of this loop we are on. Maybe it wasn't a great idea to try to do all 270 kms in one day, but we really wanted to be back in the city. The rumors had promised us that it would be smoother and technically it may have been as I did see three small straightaways, but the rain had done way more damage in this area and we found a lot of rough roads. We both were pretty sick, I'm sure the Quebecois couple was wondering how they got stuck in the back seat of two people that could produce so much vomit. They did have a very good sense of humor though and kept us going with their endless funny stories.
We were almost back into the city, driving through the five o'clock bustle, when I ended up rear ending a big pick up truck when he braked to avoid a guy signalling left and turning right. The next thing I know there is a bald, tattooed, giant white guy getting out of his truck and coming towards me. I hear Nat say, "oh great! he's going to speak english" and all I can think is "oh shit, he's going to kick my ass!" To make a long story short, we have a new friend named Stu Skversky, a guy from Philly that went from being a chef in LA to starting his own charity here in Thailand helping kids of the hill tribes. It was not the ideal way to meet, but no one was hurt, it only cost us a couple bucks in repairs, and I'm really glad we did. He is doing some pretty inspirational stuff, his website is www.hilltribeinthecity.org if you want to check it out.
So now we are recovering from our trip and resting up for a big new years eve. Sunday morning we get on a flight to Koh Somui so I think some rest and a few massages now is just what the doctor ordered.