Excuses, excuses; no drinking during the election & other interesting causes

So there’s two more days worth of Burmese adventures I meant to write up… Highlights involve an intense trek (for me, and my weak lame lungs – it was only six hours of hiking while I was sick) to several Hill Tribe villages, a water buffalo market, and a waterfall outside of Kengtung, and managing to find a movie theatre in Kengtung (wooden shack showing Die Hard 3 – it was weird).

I could pretend that I have decent reasons for not having had time to write – I mean, I did help build a house yesterday (earthen building – I learned to plaster with mud – and, oh, the mud fights), spent some time at the various weekend walking markets, was dragged to a Jazz Club where I heard some of the most amazing jazz fusion, and caught up with some friends last night over at Bohemian’s. Really… I’ve been spending the vast majority of the time either sleeping or laying on Samantha’s couch and watching BBC/CNN/Aljazeera. (Aljazeera wins. Hands down.)

There’s other stuff, as well, that I feel like I should have blogged about – or at least journaled. (I’m keeping a personal paper journal as well, of course.) All of the fascinating people that I’ve been meeting and the inspiring projects they’re working on. Thanks to You Sabai (which is how I met Samantha, who brought up a group of Burmese refugees to sing and drum around a campfire one night – now that, that will be a blog post – soon! – it was incredible) I’ve fallen into this pocket of extraordinary people: med students (one working on end-of-life care in Thai hospitals), people who write textbooks for Burmese refugee camps, grad students working on development and human rights, post-Peace Corps volunteers now working here in Chiang Mai…  I’m retrospectively wishing for a voice-recorder; I’d probably have a fascinating article/paper on the local activist scene. As it is, I’m getting a kick out of just sitting around and, essentially, interviewing people. Then there’s the opposite problem – conversations that I did, moments after having, write down in near obsessive detail intending to analyze the sociological implications (Thai women, for the most part) – but, now that we’re becoming closer and closer friends, it no longer seems appropriate to look at it that way…

I’m heading back up to You Sabai tomorrow, however, so those entries will have to wait a bit. I need to pick up my backpack and luxuriate in that wonderful healing atmosphere up there; I’m feeling better than I had been but I’m not all the way recovered, yet. After You Sabai… I really have no idea. Laos is hovering on the horizon, I might spend a little more time in Pai, and there are a couple of Hill Tribe homestay/handicraft classes (weaving! silver smithing!) to the northeast that I’m considering… I’m so behind schedule and beginning to worry that the more I linger here the more I’ll have to run through things later, rush through and even past great experiences… I’ve got to come back through Chiang Mai and say goodbyes to all my friends here before I leave for good, though.

Speaking of friends, and making new friends – it’s beginning to get a bit depressing. I keep meeting people, interesting, intelligent, fascinating people – only to know them a day or two before we both head off in opposite directions I collect email addresses, sure, and I try to tell myself that, if nothing else, I’m amassing first hand evidence that the world is indeed filled with wonderful people. Hopefully I can mesh with a group – or even just a couple of people – when I get to Laos.

The Thai National Elections on Monday means that the city has been dry since Friday – the sale of alcohol is prohibited – and, therefore, deserted at night. (With the exception of the odd farangs wandering around confused as to why no one will sell them a beer and too frustrated to listen to any explanations. I think most of the Thai people stocked up in advance and are holed up at home.) It’s also gotten quiet, with most of the bars closed and no music through the streets; I saw a woman sitting alone in a bar reading a book last night – it was surreal. I can’t imagine what would happen at home if they attempted to legislate pre-electoral sobriety…


Hill Tribe Trek & Buffalo Market

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