Falling for Chiang Mai
This is one of the most amazing places I have ever stayed in. It is called Isra House and is situated on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. I was greeted like an old friend when I arrived here a week ago. It wasn’t long before I met up with Graham and a couple of days later with Sharon and Aja. They had been on a five day trek to visit local tribes (and smoke opium).
I landed in Bangkok but didn’t hang around and got an overnight bus to Chiang Mai, which is in the north of Thailand. As we neared our destination there was a spectacular sunrise over the hills and after watching that I started to relax. Arriving in the early morning it seemed very quiet and laid back, considering this is the second largest city in Thailand.
The weather is a real contrast to Hong Kong, which was often cloudy and sometimes downright cold. On getting off the plane the change in temperature was noticeable. It was dusk and 31C. Here in the north it is comparatively cool in the evenings, refreshing even, but beautiful and sunny during the days.
You can borrow bikes from the guest house and several times we have cycled into Chiang Mai to have a good look round. They have also come in handy for getting to the swimming pool at a nearby hotel, where I’ve spent several afternoons soaking up the rays and swimming a few lengths. This is starting to feel like a really enjoyable holiday.
There is no pressure on me to move on and as everything is so cheap here I plan to stay for a few weeks. There is a big water festival in the middle of April, which is reputed to be especially good in Chiang Mai. It would be great to be around for that.
The sunny atmosphere has been conducive to getting some letters and postcards written to family and friends, with a longer one to Rita, who didn’t sound too good last time I heard from her. I am still really worried about her and can’t help blaming myself.
I have let everyone know that they should send letters here for the time being. It will probably be a good two weeks before I get anything back. Letters are a lifeline when you’re travelling but it’s not always easy to know where you will be, so that people can write to you there.
So, life is good and I’m really enjoying this part of my trip. I am meeting a lot of fellow travelers and having some fun and games with them, doing some exploring, but mostly relaxing.
This afternoon I will be going on a five day trek to see the local tribes, which should be very interesting indeed. I am just heading off now to get some supplies from the local store before coming back here to finish my packing.
The trip changes dramatically
A real shock awaited me.
The police were there making a check of the guest house.
While sitting on the verandah with an American guy, Stan, I remembered with horror that Scott had given me a small container of grass and that it was lying on my bedside table. I just hoped that Graham had managed to get rid of it somehow.
My heart fell when I was called into the room and confronted with it. I didn't have much choice about confessing that it belonged to me.
They carried out a body search, turned out my bag completely and were disappointed not to find anything else.
The next hour or so was spent filling out forms and reports for myself, Stan (small amounts of both opium and grass) and Andy, another American guy, who was visiting a friend at the house. He only had a small amount of grass on him.
We all pleaded guilty. What big offences we thought and hoped that the situation could be sorted out within a couple of hours.
They had taken our passports and we had to go with them in an open truck to the police station where we were escorted inside. We sat in an office for a while and all of us at that time were expecting to be interviewed, fined and released. However, the wheels of Thai justice don't move that fast.
We were put in the cell, which was fairly clean although the toilet stinks, at 4:30 p.m. It’s quite roomy with three different sections, all separated by metal bars. Luckily they didn't separate us and only locked the main door.