In the morning, Friendamigo had to go to school but he left a spare set of keys to the Frenchman and me. He had complete trust in us as people that we wouldn’t do anything to his place while he was gone and we obviously honored that trust. The two of us went down to the street to get some iced coffee and breakfast. I got a soup possibly called Tom Jad but the name doesn’t matter, what is important is that it was one of the best soups I’ve had in some time. The broth was so earthy and full of flavor without the blowtorch heat. We sat there and talked for awhile with no rush or demands to be met. Julien is a cool guy, in his early thirties, who realized that he is in fact getting older and never experienced the adventure he very much craved. So one day he quit his job and set out to travel with no end date in sight, taking each day and opportunity as it comes. Back at the apartment he tried teaching me some French. I gave the lesson all the attention in the world but with my cold I could not sound out the rolling Rs and Ts. I did however learn that quite a few French words are similar to English but with a slight alteration in pronunciation. Originally I planned to visit the Jim Thompson House and Museum, which is the former home of the American architect who built his house in authentic, original Thai style but I preferred the camaraderie and uniqueness of attempting to learn a new language. I had been trying to put this moment on hold for some time since I knew what awaited me but now I had no choice but to accept the situation for what it was: I would need to go to the bathroom SE Asia style. The hostel had toilet paper which needed to be discarded in the waste bin but here in this apartment I would need to use the hose attached to the wall near the toilet to clean my arse. The experience was weird, not quite natural but after it was all said and done it felt very refreshing. By now, I needed to get going if I were to make it in time to the Myanmar embassy to pick up my hopefully accepted visa. Once there I found out that I had misread the times and had an hour or so to kill. A nearby restaurant seemed like a good spot as any. Instead of eating by myself, I asked if I could join a white guy sitting at the far table. I would love to sit down and break bread err rice with a Thai at random but unless I learn Thai overnight that is highly unlikely. I ate a squid and basil leaf dish based on his recommendation. His colleague, another Frenchman, joined the table as well. The two of them have been working in Bangkok as interns for the past several months so I tried to jot down whatever secrets I could glean from them since they had for all intents and purposes became a local. I love this confidence that I have to just walk up to a stranger and start a conversation; nothing wrong with that. The dash into the embassy was a disorganized mess in which everyone pushed and shoved to get themselves through the doorway. After a short wait in line I finally got my passport back into my possession with the Myanmar visa included. The visa is quite neat; it takes over an entire passport page and looks similar to the main page of the passport with a visa valid time frame included. Now it is now too late; I will be going to Burma and no one can stop me. In a month’s time I will be able to uncover some of the secrets and mysteries that hide within Burma’s borders. The walk back to the hostel was long and tiring. I didn’t get lost but that still didn’t prevent the journey from taking up the rest of the afternoon. On the way there, I did my fair share of exploring walking through random corridors and along canals seeing sights the average tourist would never come across. At points, I was practically walking through family’s homes seeing them eat and go about their daily chores. Although the temples and food fill all the travel magazines, I appreciate the moments where I can take a peek into the life of a local, as short as that moment may be. I walked past more shops but these definitely catered to the locals as quite a few of them had a variety of animals intestines and whole ducks or chickens strewn across awaiting sale. As I got nearer to my destination, I passed a stupa in the mold of the bell shaped Singaporean architecture, all gold sitting atop a mount thusly called the Golden Mount. I wish I had the time to visit it but I already have plans to leave for Chiang Mai this evening; plus with Bangkok being the heart and center of Thailand it is very easy to find yourself here in the city even if just passing through. I went back to Khao San Rd. to have more pad thai with liberal scoops of dried, baby shrimp and peanuts plus a dash of chilies. The moment felt so right. After waiting and then meeting a couple of Frenchmen who would be joining me to Chiang Mai, I took a taxi cab ride as part of the service to where the bus would be waiting for us. We stopped at a random spot with no bus in sight but the driver said he would be back since he needed to pick up more people. Many tuk-tuk and taxi drivers were prying us to take a ride but we had a bus waiting for us. Then, another random guy approached us asking for the tickets to the bus service from Khaosan Immjai, our hostel. I am always a bit skeptical of people at first before I can gain your trust but I felt comfortable believing him since he sounded out everything to the letter. My friend, the Frenchman, was more skeptical and not willing to give up his ticket. The man got angry and offended with him right away saying that he won’t be taking him with his bus, that he doesn’t have to worry about going to Chiang Mai. The man is mental and more to the point a complete, full blood asshole; I am convinced he constantly walks around with a three meter stick of bamboo shoved up his ass and I’m sure he likes every bit of that. He kept yelling and making accusations in full belief that he was right. I wasn’t okay with the situation but I tried to play it cool and be calm as least for the sake of my friend who could missing out on a chance to go to Chiang Mai. I talked with the man trying to settle him down which was no use; there was no talking sense to him. Eventually he called the hostel to talk to reception and began loudly speaking in Thai through his phone. All of a sudden he handed the phone to me as the in between. Personally I wanted to jack the guy in the face but at the end of the day that would have solved nothing. I bounced from person to person, at one end trying to calm the Frenchman who was emotional himself after getting berated by this crazy Thai man while on the other I dealt with this hot headed bloke that knew not an ounce of respect. Eventually we got everyone in the bus even after the Thai got into the French’s face. What a fiasco. Life is never easy, best to roll with the punches. As far the bus ride is considered it was far from comfortable. The roads were so rocky and the bus shook so much that in reality every single tire of the vehicle should have gone flat. At its very worst in mid-sleep, I felt as if we were traveling through a war torn country that had been bombed and all the roads had no turned to rubble. As long as I get to Chiang Mai in one piece, I can handle the rest.
Thailand Day 56: Burma Bound