Mai Sai, nov 29-dec 2

On the 29th we took the 2nd class air con Greenbus up from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai. The bus goes through 3 police checkpoints, where we are boarded. The word is that they say they are looking for drugs, but are really looking for Burmese illegals, and each time they give this one kid a thorough looking over.
They served us these delicious snacks. I ate them, Brent did not.

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Once in Mae Sai, just about everyone on our bus jumped straight onto a transport to the border of Burma for a visa run. I may have mentioned earlier that you get 30 days in Thailand when you enter by air, and 15 by land. We thought about doing the crossing, but it would actually shorten the time we have, so we did not. Also, you get one day, essentially to wander around the markets on the Burmese side, so…. Not worth it.

At the bus station there was some confusion about where we were trying to go, but once again, map screenshots on the iPad saved the day. We were directed to the 3rd class open air bus heading back to chiang rai, and were assured that they would stop for us, which they did. We stop at a roadside restaurant for some noodles, and he confirms that we are headed up the correct side road, about 5 minutes walk. He seems surprised that we are on foot. The resort is lovely, but we think we are the only customers here. We also think that it’s probably a place intended for people with cars, not backpackers, but the price is great, and the rooms are really, really good. Apologies for the laundry strung up there. Any time we have 3 days we wash a few things so we have time for them to dry.

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The breakfast, which is included in the room rate, is not worth the money. The breakfast served is the exact breakfast pictured on the Maggi seasoning bottle. It’s like it was their guide to western breakfast. This was from the first morning, sitting in a charming cottage overlooking the creek, but neither of us could finish it. The coffee is powdered packets of NescafĂ© 3 in 1- sugar, creamer and coffee powder, in that order. I hate to admit that it’s growing on me.

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We see on the map a place a little west of us called the Kung Ten Restaurant, and decided to give it a shot for lunch. It’s only about 1 k along the road and it’s a large, open air place, with some teenaged girls, and some dogs. There are dogs and cats everywhere, but they all seem to belong to someone, so that’s good.
Here’s the Kung Ten- this shot was from our table looking towards the creek.

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We open the menu, and realize that we are in a little trouble. The girl who brings them stands patiently waiting for us to order, and we are looking at many pages of this:

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So, we point at a few things, smile, and we have apparently ordered a fried pork appetizer, and a tom yum soup loaded with shrimp- I mean loaded.

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Both of these were delicious- the pork with the raw ginger, garlic and peppers was a surprise, and the soup was so bright and flavorful, it blew us both away.

Fortunately, the place had wifi, because our thai is very limited, and no one at the restaurant had any English ability. So, we communicated via dueling google translators, which worked surprisingly well. I also have a “learn thai” program on my ipad, so I was able to use that for simple requests.

After lunch, we continued west on the small road, wondering what the tree symbol on the map at the end of the road was. Turned out it was a small park, and while looking around, I saw a stone staircase partially hidden in the trees. We climbed the staircase which led us to this cave. Of course we decide to investigate. Here’s Brent poking his head out:

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Here’s a pic that I took looking up from inside. We could hear a river flowing further inside, but weren’t prepared for full on spelunking, and, well, caves are quite dark. Too dark for iPhone flashlights.

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I don’t know if you can tell from the pics, but it’s a pretty steep descent at the mouth of the cave.

We climbed out, and headed back to the guesthouse for a nap. If you look closely at this Brent pic, you can see the stairs. It’s really beautiful here, and it’s been a nice quiet rest stop. Tomorrow we are off to Chiang Rai for a couple of days.

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