Tag Archives: Mae Sot

The Trip Back From Mae Sot

Of course, even the best laid plans go awry and our trip back from Mae Sot proved no different! After another adventure plunging down the mountain in the back of a truck, we headed to the bus stop…only to find out there were no more seats available on the bus to Bangkok! We were told to grab a bus to a different providence, with the possibility that we could get tickets to Bangkok from there. 

So we got on a bus to Tak province. 

Unlike our bus ride to Mae Sot, however, this was not a smooth ride. The police kept pulling the bus over. Or maybe they pulled everyone over. I’m not sure. All I know is that every hour or so, the bus got pulled over and everyone had to bring out their passports and show their visa to the masked cop. 

It interrupted any attempts on my part to nap and put me in a very ill humor with the Thai police. 

Not that they actually showed much concern for me. In fact, compared to my friends, I barely got any notice from the police. One glance at my white skin (or even worse, syllable from my English speaking mouth!) would send them hurrying away. But the others underwent stricter scrutiny. Thailand is a very racial system. 

While sitting on the bus, one of the attendants walking around asked who wanted to go to Bangkok. (At least, I assume she asked that. Thankfully, some family/friends of Mae Sod’s were also traveling to Bangkok and able to translate a little.) We said we wished to go and the lady demanded a certain sum of money. She then scribbled on a piece of paper and told us to present it at the bus stop!

It was not the most formal way to transfer buses, but thankfully it worked. Once we arrived at our destination, they whisked us onto the next bus to Bangkok. We got back around midnight. 

By this point, neither Mae Sod or I had working phones. No buses run that late. We decided to bite the bullet and take a taxi. With great trepidation, we got into the one hailed for us. Our last driver made us fear for our lives. This one…was absolutely a gem!

He spoke very little English but cheerfully did his best to maintain a conversation. “Thailand very hot! You try food? Is spicy?” 

We originally planned to drop her off first and then have me either stay the night or hail another taxi. However, we liked our driver so much we asked if he would be willing to take a “second” trip. He did not know my address, but thankfully I could direct him from that point. He was definitely an answer to our desperate prayers! 


Scenes of Mae Sot

I cannot express how beautiful our trip up into the mountains was. Here are just a few of my favorites pictures: 

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The Village Store

Saturday evening we traveled into town to visit the local “store.” None of us realized what it was until Mae Sod’s uncle pulled the truck over and got out! (We all thought he just stopped to chat with friends.)

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We apparently were highly entertaining, as the gentlemen sitting up front kept mimicking our English and laughing. 

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In their defense, we were taking a ridiculous number of pictures.

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We also hiked about. 

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In the Mountains

Mae Sod’s aunt and uncle hosted us for the weekend. They live on a farm in the mountains. They were incredibly kind hosts and fed us delicious food. We slept on the bamboo floors and hung out with the farm animals!

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Arrival in Mae Sot

We arrived in Mae Sot around 7 am. Mae Sod’s cousin was waiting for us and we piled in the back of his pick up truck for a quick run to the grocery store and a much longer run up the mountain. It was a BLAST!

 

 

 


An Inauspicious Beginning

For an amazing trip, my journey to Mae Sot did not start out amazingly! In fact, it started with me losing my debit card.

More precisely, I must have lost my debit card about a week earlier. That’s the last time I remember having it. Almost everything here runs on cash. Accordingly, I spent the hours before my trip slightly panicking and trying to leave a list of instructions with my groggy Mom before getting on a bus and potentially losing data connectivity. 

My Mom, however, was amazing ❤ ❤ ❤ and got it all sorted out for me. I still did not think I would be able to make it on the trip but my friend offered to lend me the money to make the trip happen. I am eternally grateful to both of them.

Mae Sod and I then jumped in a taxi to head to the bus stop. Except our taxi driver did not know what he was doing. That’s the kindest spin I can put on it. Since we were using the Grab app, he did not get extra money for going out of his way, so I’m not sure why he could not seem to find the right road. I did, however, wonder a time or two if we were going to get murdered. He kept going down dark roads under construction. (In his defense, that might be the only way to get to the bus stop. And every road seems sketchy at night.)

We arrived at the bus stop much later than expected and met up with Phuc and Sunny. And then we began to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

There was a delay, of course. This is Thailand. But we sat at the spot our tickets told us to for over an hour waiting. Thankfully, my friends started chatting with a fellow passenger also headed to Mae Sot and he somehow knew when our bus came in. As it was a spot several rows away from where our tickets said to go, I do not know how anyone found it. I certainly do not know how we would have found it without him!

I am afraid I did not take this delay with much grace. You see, I like sleep. I consider 8 hours a night barley tolerable. 9 hours is necessary. 10 slightly extravagant but occasionally necessary. To achieve this, I go to bed by 10 pm. Back home, I promptly fall asleep within seconds. Here it sometimes takes me as long as fifteen minutes, which is certainly irksome. But overall, I embrace my superhero like ability to fall asleep almost instantly anywhere. 

Our bus originally left after 10 and actually left closer to midnight. As you can imagine, I went from “sleepy” to “overtired toddler” mode in record time. It also did not help that we waited in the steamy, hot bus terminal packed with people You could hardly move without bumping into someone. Every time a bus needed to back out, it sent people scurrying into one another while dragging boxes and bags out of the way of the bus! Too many people, far too humid, and no sleep: a combination I never want to meet again. 

Thankfully, I quickly crashed on the bus!


None of Them Speak Thai

It sounds like the start of a joke: a Vietnamese, a Chinese, a Burmese, and an American travel to Northern Thailand. 

None of them speak Thai.

And yet, that is precisely what my friends and I did last weekend! Though to be fair, only I spoke no Thai. (Despite much coaching by everyone, I have yet master ‘hello’ or ‘thank you.’) The others could ask a few basic questions. But all things considered, we traveled with a language barrier. 

The next few days I will post a bit about our trip, but first let me introduce the characters:

Mae Sod. She studies with me at Thammasat University, though in a different department. We met on the Lampang trip and became friends when she asked if I wanted to join her at church. She is Karen and was raised in a refugee camp here in Thailand, but her family later moved to the United States where she became a U.S. citizen. We visited her relatives at Mae Sot. She is smart and super kind! She loves Jesus and encourages me with her calm reminders to pray in stressful situations. 

Phuc. He is Vietnamese and attends a different university here in Thailand. He speaks several different languages – including Mandarin, English, and Italian – and loves his WiFi. This posed a problem as the village we visited had only limited access to WiFi! We all met at church and his zeal for the Lord is evident in everything he does. 

Sunny. She is Chinese and a classmate of Phuc’s. She also attends church with us! Her sweet smile and kind heart makes every moment around her a joy. Even when her English fails, her love for the Lord shines through! 

Amy. Me! Slightly clueless but (hopefully) good natured American who loved almost every moment of the trip and really appreciated the passion and joy of her travel buddies!