Mae Hong Son Loop

Mae Hong Son

We were both quite pleased to leave Chiang Mai, we'd had a brilliant time in the surrounding areas, but too often when we went into Chiang Mai of a night time, it was something quite different. I saw more idiots that call themselves backpackers, than in the whole of Thailand so far. Everywhere we have been in Thailand, we have been welcomed warmly, but here in this city, the Thai people are not initially so friendly to you, until you have proved otherwise, you are just another backpacker that is not going to even attempt any Thai food, let alone attempt any words of Thai. We don't know that many words of Thai, as I'm absolutely useless at languages, but the few words we do know seems to open up the friendly, warm reception we have had in other places. I love England and am proud to be English, that will never change, but sometimes the behaviour of other westerners does not make it easy to be seen as anything other than a beer swilling lout, with no respect for other people or their cultures.

The last few days have been all about scenery, so we have spent time driving round a more rural route driving through hills, mountains, forests, and vast expanses of mountainsides covered in trees – it was quite beautiful. The first night we stopped at Mae Sariang and found a guest house right beside the river.

There were a lot less westerners which is exactly what we wanted – as I said before I am proud to be English, but if I wanted to just mix with westerners, I'd have stayed at home and this was much more our thing than Chiang Mai. There were a handful of places where something was written in English, but mostly it was written in Thai script, so when we went into a place to get a drink and saw a picture of what looked like a strawberry shake I pointed to it and asked for two. I was right, it was strawberry, which was then mixed with carnation cream, ice and another ingredient which I wasn't sure what it was. The result was not exactly what we had been looking for, but tasty nonetheless and we were both very pleased, as was the girl serving us who had no English at all and for some reason she called her friend over to hear me say 'hello' and 'thank you' in Thai – I know this because the friend said hello in Thai so I responded and then she said thank you in Thai, so again I responded in Thai, they both laughed so I'm sure my pronunciation was way off, but they knew what I meant and later when we walked back down the street, they both came out the front of the shop to wave at us.

The next day we moved on in the direction of Mae Hong Son, the morning mist over the river and the mountains was again a beautiful sight. We hung around in Mae Sariang and had a leisurely breakfast, so by the time we actually arrived at Mae Hong Song it was late afternoon. We found a guest house, checked in, dumped our bags and were off to investigate again.

This place was quite a bit bigger than Mae Sariang and I would say slightly more touristy but it still retained it's own character and we both really liked it. At it's centre is a park with a lake in it, so we wandered round and then had some delicious pineapple shakes – yum! Mae Hong Son had a night market, so there was only one place to head, we took a look around this small market and then headed for Wat Jong Klang temple, which is an elegant structure and lit up at night. I lit a floating candle here and let it go in water and later lit a lantern, which I released into the night sky. The lantern symbolises letting go, there are still some things in life that I need to let go of, so hopefully some of them went up into that night sky along with my lantern.

We sat in a café, overlooking the night market and the lake and John says “this is awesome”, I look at him “not just tonight” he says “but the whole trip”. He then went on to say that he had no idea why he had been so worried about it beforehand and whilst he still wants the first night booked in each new country we go to, he is no longer worried at all by just turning up in a town to find a room, he loves the freedom it brings and said that it really is as easy as I'd told him it'd be. It made me very happy to see him so relaxed.