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Chiang Rai

Day 428 – Tuesday 26th March

After another morning waking up here in paradise, I was fed a hearty breakfast from M’s lovely Mum. Then we headed off into town in his car (whose AC decided to break on a 43 degree day!) and after visiting a couple of his mates who own shops, we bought some fabric for M’s new shop and tried and failed to find me a hoody for the freezing cold nights here (left my bag in Chiang Mai). Got back to the shop and the car decided to blow up and it was steaming all over the shop, so we just poured water in any hole which looked empty and that seemed to help cool it down a bit. After that I sat eating ice cream (the product he sells) as he hung up the fabric decoratively at the front of the shop. Then I came back to his and sat reading all afternoon as he went to sort a couple errands. In the evening, one of the unlimited supply of cousins turned up at my door with food, perfect! Then I went to check out all the commotion downstairs at the restaurant and there were 3 Thai guys playing snooker in the little snooker hall attached to their house. Then I spent the next 3 hours playing (terribly) with these guys. Despite the obvious language barrier, we all had a really good laugh and all the family popped in to have a look at the white guy play pool.

Day 429 – Wednesday 27th March

Had a really early start this morning, and drove into town on his little Honda c70 which is a fucking awesome bike plus he’s swapped in a 125 engine which helps a lot. In town we picked up some paint and got some quotes for gates to keep his shop safe when it’s closed. Then we went and got the painting started which took much longer than expected and as usual it was unbearably hot, but ice cream always helps. So far the ‘shop’ is just a little hut type thing with an ice cream fridge, but M has big ideas for it and it seems like we’ll be busy working the next few days. Once the painting was done we drove up North to a new art gallery they’re about to open which amongst other things is showing one of M’s pieces. The place was still a building site and I’ll be surprised if it’s done by Saturday, but some of the paintings hanging up in the main room were really cool, M made some sort of metal sculpture which I don’t really understand. After meeting up with all the other artists and having a look around (at which point some creepy ass old man grabbed me and wouldn’t let go of me as he dragged me round the place) we headed over to the black temple. Having seen about a trillion temples I’m over the whole thing, but this one was a bit different and pretty nice. Plus it wasn’t actually a temple, just some rich artist who built a cool house on really nice grounds reminded me of some National Trust park in England, as it was just really peaceful and beautiful just walking around. When we got back to M’s, we sat and had a beer in the evening sun and then I had a nap for a good 2 hours. By the time I got up M had disappeared so I went down to check out what was happening and those guys from yesterday were back so I played a few games of snooker with them again. Everyone had disappeared and gone to bed by about 10, and I’d barely just woken up, so I sat and watched a movie before hitting the hay.

Day 430 – Thursday 28th March

Another morning waking up here; god I just love this place so much, beautiful countryside, really nice family, absolutely awesome house and good food how could I be any happier?? First off this morning we went to the shop where M’s brother had already got started on cutting down all the huge trees out front which were blocking the view of the shop from the road. He must’ve been hacking away nonstop for about 3 hours and he didn’t even break a sweat fucking incredible. While he did that, me and M went round the back of the shop to clear the whole garden as he wants to make a space where people can sit down and have coffee. The whole garden was a complete mess, the place has been deserted for about 10 years so you can imagine just how much stuff there was to clear and all we had were our hands and a machete pretty much. But still once we got stuck in the garden started to clear up pretty quickly, and if I say so myself we did a bloody good job and more than warranted ourselves a little sit down and ice cream. Forgot to mention; while I was clearing out some vines, I pulled a whole chunk away and there hiding in the middle of the nest was a little cocoon which as soon as I exposed it exploded into life and a brand new white butterfly came flying out into the world. Absolutely fucking epic sight! Eventually it just got too hot and we were forced to call it a day, felt really good to actually do something today and get a proper sweat going, looking forward to helping out in the days to come. Came back to M’s and spent the afternoon hanging on his terrace listening to music and regaining our strength. After dinner in the evening we popped into town for a little bit as he left his jacket in a bar the other day, but apart from that it was a fairly uneventful evening and we were both knackered.

Day 431 – Friday 29th March

Got offered a 4 year old girl for marriage this morning, me and the woman agreed it was probably best if we wait 10 years, she insisted 5 would be enough at first, but if I wanted to wait 10 she would understand. Still not the youngest girl I’ve been offered for marriage! It was one of the more funny proposals though as she couldn’t speak English and she managed to explain herself pretty fluently with hand gestures, turns out to be another one of M’s endless supply of aunties. After that, me, M, Ohm (M’s brother), his girlfriend, and 3 of the younger cousins including that little girl headed off to a waterfall. When we got there we dropped all our stuff off at the side of one of the streams which was better for the kids as they could go swimming and me and M headed up to the waterfall proper. After a long and sweaty walk we finally made it up to it and it was ginormous, a whole 70 metres tall! Still not the biggest I’ve seen, Chisui in China was around 90 if I remember right and much bigger in other ways than this one. But this one you could swim in and that was very much needed and the freezing water felt so dam good. M took his customary pictures and we headed back down to get going. Soon after we’d got in the car that crazy aunt from earlier just turned up on the side of the road and flagged us down as she and a few other members of the family happened to be there having a barbeque beside a stream. Everywhere we go we seem to bump into one of his family members, it’s so funny, plus this one was serving fried chicken and cat fish as well as sticky rice which was a result. As James was supposed to be arriving today (actually a few days ago, but the guy is so unreliable) we had to get a move on as it was likely he would be getting into Chiang Rai soonish and we had no signal. So we said our goodbyes and drove back home, turns out James came up with Chris (English guy who I met at our guest house about a week ago) and Melanie (German girl who James is in love with, and who is far too young for him!) and he still hadn’t made it up to Mae Sai to do his visa run. By this time immigration should’ve been closed, but he got there past 7 and somehow managed to get himself stamped back into Thailand. When we got back to M’s in the evening, his mate had just turned up to have a little jam session and practice ready for the gig M will be playing at the art exhibition tomorrow. The mate was really good at the drums, and it was nice to hear M’s guitar have a bit of accompaniment. The 2 of them rocked, and the whole neighbourhood popped by to watch the little gig on his terrace. Really awesome evening and can’t wait for the gig proper tomorrow. After a few hours they’d had enough and so we headed into town to hook up with James and the gang and find out what is going on as I literally have no idea what these guys plans are and I’m supposed to be a part of them. Long story short James’ plan is to follow Melanie wherever she wants to go, and yes for no other reason than the guy I controlled by his dick. But Chris seems up for hanging out in Chiang Rai for a bit and getting off the map and meeting M’s family and shit. For a guy whose just started travelling, he’s well up for doing the proper stuff like eating local and staying local and avoiding tourist traps, he’s even up for visiting China which no new traveller ever wants to touch with a barge pole, so the 2 of us should get on alright if James does decide to fuck off with this girl in the near future. In town we went to the reggae bar where M did yet more live jamming, this time with a bigger and better supporting band, and Melanie decided to stay at the hostel as us 3 watched M do his thing, really good set plus he met a couple guys who are up for playing with him in the gig tomorrow. James left the bar pretty quickly as he couldn’t stand being away from the girl for more than 5 minutes, and me and Chris sat and had a beer before the place started to close and me and M headed home.

Day 432 – Saturday 30th March

Got a call from James in the morning and we made plans to go visit the white temple. So I had some breakfast and then stole M’s badass little Honda 70 and headed into town to meet up with them, the 2 love bids were acting all coy all morning and turns out they’d booked themselves on a bus back to Chiang Mai already having only seen this place for about an hour last night. Melanie’s reasoning for booking the ticket; I don’t like Chiang Rai, all you’ve fucking seen is the guest house how can you have an opinion on the place. Either way she clearly doesn’t want to be here and unsurprisingly James is getting on the bus with her despite the fact that he actually really likes this place! Don’t get me started! Anyway Chris hopped on the back of my bike and those 2 rented a bike and we drove off to the temple. The temple was another really cool one, not so much a temple as a piece of art really, plus all the sculptures in and around the temple were really interesting and bloody bizarre! There was a particular painting in the inside of the temple on the back wall which depicted the twin towers going down with an angry bird as the planes and the whole towers wrapped in a petrol pump with spider man and superman in the background as well as a load of other shit. No pictures were allowed inside the temple but we managed to sneak one and it didn’t really come out. The other things included a bunch of hands coming out the ground, some holding microphones, some holding dicks, a couple with their middle fingers up and many others. Plus all the coy fish ponds around, the whole piece was just a really beautiful work of art called a temple, and it was one of the more interesting temples I’ve seen for sure. But it was fucking boiling as usual and after a quick tour around we got back on the bikes and drove to the same waterfall I went to yesterday with M. Somehow it felt even more refreshing than yesterday! But James and Melanie were on a tight schedule so we had to leave and go to M’s to say farewell before their bus. As if the day hadn’t been cool enough already, when we got back to M’s 3 guys were there with him jamming out like crazy, all of them were fucking epic at their respective instruments plus they’d bought a load of extra speakers for the day so it was a proper old school gig in the middle of a rice field, too fucking good. Soon after James and Melanie had left, it started to rain and not just rain fucking shit it down, the heavens quite literally fell on us plus a hell of a load of hail. All I kept thinking was thank god I left Indo when I did, and how the hell did I survive these downpours for the whole month of December!! It seemed to go on and on and get worse and worse, but we were nice and cosy undercover in the snooker room, and the 3 new guys are all really safe so we had a good laugh just waiting around for it to stop. Once it did stop, it was already time for the gig at the art exhibition and so we loaded all the equipment into the back of M’s truck and me and Chris followed on my new favourite toy, my little Honda 70. The drive we took earlier to get to and from the waterfall was absolutely epic and there was no way I wasn’t driving it tonight as well even if it was freezing cold and still raining slightly. Stopped off on the way at the guys’ guest house where we met an Italian couple who decided to join the convoy on their little bike and come along for the show. Compared to the building site it was just 2 days ago the progress made was absolutely ridiculous, the building looked so nice and the exhibition inside was actually brilliant. I’ve never been to an art show before and actually liked so many paintings, and they’re all done by local non-professional artists plus there was free food and booze! The gig started soon after we arrived and was so good, all the guys agreed it wasn’t as good as the jam session earlier, but the atmosphere was completely different and all the people there really enjoyed it and yeah it was a fucking awesome place to be on a Saturday night. We all hung around a while after the show was over to have a few drinks before we got back on our convoy to M’s to drop off all the equipment before heading back out to a club around 1 in the morning. This club is the hang out spot for all the local uni students (young, beautiful girls) so we were not disappointed once we arrived and everyone got in the spirit pretty quickly and our little table of the only 8 foreigners in the place showed those guys how to party. Still it was a typically Asian club meaning there wasn’t much of a dance floor and rather than being a place to have fun it was a place to show off wealth, meaning one huge benefit which I’ve mentioned time and time again in China is FREE DRINKS! So me and Chris quickly separated from the group and milked those young rich bastards for all they’re worth, but seriously we met a group of really cool guys who were also really generous with their drinks and the 2 of us ended up having such an awesome night. Unfortunately we didn’t have too much luck with the ladies but still. Once the club closed I drove my ridiculously drunk passenger home, but having never drive in Chiang Rai before I didn’t have a clue where we were going and soon a helpful ladyboy noticed we were driving in circles and stopped to help out. But in Chris’ state he thought it was a woman looking for a good time so he hopped in his/her car, luckily I managed to pry him away and eventually he realised it was a ladyboy, but still he followed us all the way home at 5 in the morning, fucking creepy!! What a long and awesome day!

Day 433 – Sunday 31st March

Didn’t feel too bad this morning seemingly my tolerance to alcohol hasn’t really dropped despite having not really drunk in a good few months now. Chris felt a bit hung over though and got started on stories of a greasy McDonald’s breakfast which I could not get out of my head. So we jumped on the bike and drove to town where we were told there was one in central plaza, and after walking around the building and being convinced it was nowhere, the golden arches appeared and we were rewarded with a bloody good breakfast. Plus with most Asian McDonald’s they’re actually nice restaurants as they’re pretty expensive comparatively so it was a good place to sit and have a chill on a lazy Easter Sunday. When we left there we drove back to M’s and checked out a little house we can rent a bit down the road. If it was up to me I’d stay at M’s forever, but now there’s 2 of us and I’ve been taking his bed for a whole week now it’s probably about time I let him be. The place we’re looking at is perfect just a little detached hut with internet and big room and bathroom for only 40 quid a month (20 each). But we can’t move in till tomorrow so M’s got to stick up with us for another night. After that we went on a long drive in the mountains to find this really far off waterfall in the middle of the jungle, sorry if my blog is starting to sound like some ridiculous paradise found book. But anyway the drive was incredible, the walk to the waterfall was incredible, and then we randomly bumped into the Italian couple from last night, incredible! This place is so far off and would be impossible to find if you didn’t know the way and yet somehow here they were! We spent a couple hours hanging out there chatting and keeping cool in the water before having a coffee and parting ways when we heard the thunder rolling in. Luckily the rain didn’t come as bad as yesterday and so the muddy roads were fine on the way back. When we got back, we were all a bit tired so we hung around chatting at Ms place and listening to music sitting on the internet. I tried to book myself a flight from Bangkok to Singapore next month, as my flight home is from there, but the stress of having to plan it ahead and the realisation that had I just booked it from Bangkok originally it would’ve been way cheaper and easy made it impossible for me to book it and made me stressed so I just turned off that and skyped the family instead. Actually hadn’t spoken to Grandma and Granddad since this day last year when I’d just arrived in China, shows how useless I am with keeping in touch! All in all a really nice relaxing night and had a really good chat with Chris for about 3 hours about the state of the world we live in today which was a nice change from the usual travelling talk (which I never actually get bored of).

Day 434 – Monday 1st April

Spent the morning hanging out at M’s, with his mate who I’ve met a few times, just listening to music. After a while we made a plan to head off to a waterfall, am I starting to sound boring yet? Got lost on the way and ended up in the middle of some random hill tribe who didn’t speak any Thai. But once we did make it, it was even more spectacular than the rest purely because you could climb up the side of the cliff and jump off into the pool, boys will be boys. Plus there were loads of kids there playing which always gives a place a more fun vibe. Spent quite a while there swimming in the pool and sunbathing before getting some delicious food from the local women at the entrance. When we got back to M’s we started an ebay account for him as he’s trying to sell his paintings, of which he has hundreds, so we started to take pictures of them all and get him set up, the least we can do for all the help he’s given us. Then after another brilliant dinner we moved in to our new little house and rented a scooter from M’s Mum for only a tenner a week, fuck what a bloody good feeling!

Pictures are up in the gallery guys, enjoy!

Posted by travellingjoe 23:17 Archived in Thailand

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Just thought I'd say how much I enjoyed the photographs Joe. It all looks fascinating and fun at the same time. Will read your words later. GD.

by m.hurry

Just back from playing Bowls so have now read your script. Sounds a fabulous place and people too. I have to say that the photos make a lot more sense since I read your blog. Keep smiling. GD.

by m.hurry

sounds fab Joe - keep on having fun darling boy
m xx

by elizabethzy

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