In Mae Sot

In Mae Sot, in bed, trapped inside a bright blue anti-mosquito tent with the fan blades beating overhead. Outside it’s dark and raining. Swollen drops are tapping loudly on corrugated iron but everything else is strangely quiet for a Saturday night, aside from a lone chirruping gecko outside my window (at least I hope it’s a gecko and not a vocal cockroach).

Arrived here at 6am. Almost missed the night bus, but managed to dart in and out of the 7-eleven at Moh Chit station just before it left, and was momentarily stunned by the refrigerated rows of weird, artificial, packaged Asian foodstuffs, miniature bottles of potion-like soft drink, and lychee-flavoured poppers. A flashing daze. Then climbed onto the “VIP” bus, inhaled a sticky rice pork burger, levered back the (extremely comfy) chair, and passed out.

When I woke up, small mountains covered with thick jungle-forest were becoming visible on either side of the road, quiet in the aquatic early morning light. At the bus station I was bundled into the back of a tuk-tuk and flew past monks and small apprentice monks wading through the mist with their alms bowls, swathed in burnt orange, a faint sweat in the air.

Mae Sot is small and messy, and enchanting. The leaves here look like they’re on steroids. Stray dogs trot purposefully through the town – one growled and ran at me tonight but I managed to stay still and it didn’t come too close (N.B. expensive rabies vaccine course – a sensible decision).

The roads are lined with dusty food stalls and displays of strange, sodden-looking pink and green tropical fruits with spikes and fuzz and dark tendrils. Also noted several giant painted chicken statues – curious as to their significance.

In other news, it has come to my attention that I can’t speak a word of Thai, or Burmese (except an imperfect, apologetic, big-eyed ‘thankyou!’) and that this is problematic. It seems that in the midst of 30kg of overweight/obese luggage I forgot about language being an important part of… medicine, and daily life…

At least I managed to find a photocopied version of a Lonely Planet Thai-English phrasebook in a corner of the guesthouse.

And with that, dâi way-laa norn léaw [it is bedtime].

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