Wild Wild West Thailand

The bus we rode to Mae Sariang seemed ancient. It screeched up and down hills slower than a donkey, never making it out of second gear. The dusty dry landscape was reddish-brown and looking out the window you could almost see each individual rock bounce out from underneath the tires of the bus. Finally we arrived there. The cute small town on the river had rocky dirt roads and a cowboy bar. We relaxed with a Beer Lao, at a Thai restaurant serving Pizza, co-run by an American from Maryland. We chatted with a British man at the bar while listening to Gillian Welch play on the stereo. Where were we?…

The next leg of our journey really made this seem even more like the wild west of Thailand. More swerving roads, this time looking out the open back of the songthaew, wearing sunglasses, not because it was too bright, but to keep the dust out of our eyes. As we drove along the border of Myanmar, our vehicle was stopped at numerous police checkpoints. They were looking for Burmese people without papers. Since we were obviously Galawa (the Karen word for “white person”) we didn’t need to show identification. We made it to Mae Plo intact and loaded ourselves and our stuff into a big pick-up truck driven by Peter’s Norwegian friends of friends of a friend to Blessed Homes For Children in the village of No Boh. We had decided to come to the orphanage out of curiosity, to see how it worked and to visit with our new Norwegian friends. When the kids got home from school they showed off for us by wrestling each other and running around excitedly and jumping all over the new Galawas. It was quite the spectacle. While we stayed there for two nights, we got to know Ole-Jorgen, who started the orphanage six years ago and his brother Petter (who Peter had met in Norway last spring) and Petter’s girlfriend Eva who were in Thailand on holiday. We swam in the river that is a border line between Thailand and Myanmar, climbed a mountain with a local villager, and played with the kids. It was even more of a rural experience than we had in the northeast before. Sleeping under a mosquito net, eating delicious food cooked by the staff or at the only restaurant in walking distance, and knowing that we were as far away from a 711 as could be possible here.

Here is one of the songs we heard in the bar, oddly appropriate because of the wild west-country feel of the area.

Gillian Welch- Scarlet Town


About wanderingsoundtrack

I write about my travel experiences and relate them to songs I already know, or have just heard or learned on the way. Listen along!
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