Yes, it’s true: thanks to our outside-his-mind Jamaican orator, I’ve had Radiohead running through my brain for a second consecutive day.
As promised, I determined to make a second assault upon the Tribal Museum — even if it meant the putting on of shoes. Decided to take the other side of the street north of the “Superhighway” this time. While this meant that traffic would be at my back, it turned out to be much easier, as there’s a nice wide motorcycle/bicycle lane over there, and also a decent shoulder.
So, it worked out fairly well. Started getting nervous, however, when I passed a road with many signs, all in Thai, with arrows pointing in its direction. It seemed as though it was about the place where I ought to be turning, but I decided to keep forging ahead. Asked many local street vendors where was the Tribal Museum, none of whom seemed to have had the faintest idea what in Hell I was on about.
Finally, as I was contemplating visiting the Money And Textile Museum instead, about twenny yards past the last vendor, was a sign pointing to the Tribal Museum! The dirt road led past the Shooting Club, and then forked off. I took the right-ward fork, and ended up down at the horse-riding club, dead-ended and nowhere. But fate stepped in in the form a little trail back over to the other fork, which ran around a lake (as the map I’d seen online said it ought), so I gave it a whirl.
Wasn’t looking too promisingly for a time, but there was one pretty big, nice-looking building which I hoped might deliver the paydirt. At the turn-off to this building, a sign appeared confirming my hopes. My heart soared with elation as I approached the gate. But then…
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I cried aloud. Trying not to panic, I devised a plan whereby I’d sit and have lunch, hoping that it’d be open by the time I’d finished. (It was then 10:30 in the AM.)
While I was eating, some dudes came by with a water delivery, which raised my hopes that there would indeed be museumage to be had on this day. But the gentleman who came out with them to close the gate, as they departed, then stopped over to chat with me. He accepted one of my tangerines, but could not give me any information (at least not that I could understand) concerning the Museum’s hours. (The guidebook had said Monday – Friday from 9:00 in the AM until 5:00 in the PM.)
Seeing this sign made me think maybe the museum’s closed for renovations or some such-like.
So, I got out the map, and was looking it over to see what else to do on this fine day. I noted that this “Mae Rim” area, included in the map’s “Near Chiang Mai” attractions, looked like it had some kinda neat stuff there — a museum, some temples, an orchid/butterfly farm, a snake farm, a monkey “centre”, some waterfalls. And, I noticed that the access road for all of this kinda neat stuff there wasn’t so far north of the Shooting Club.
Well, shit-howdy, if the map’s to scale, why not give it a shot? Walking back out to the main road via the fork not previously taken, I done passed some cool little huts out over the lake wherein people could take their luncheon.
Back out on the main road, I kept passing many a sign pointing further on, further on young lad for Mae Rim. It eventually became apparent that the map is not to scale, nor even close. After about an hour’s walking, I passed another shooting club. Uh…uh-oh… Then, and only then, did a sign appear giving the distance to Mae Rim; namely, eight kilometres. Fuck.
Cursing all Buddhas everywhere, I bit my lip, and lowered myself to hailing a sangthaew — a pickup tricked out to use like a taxi.
I asked the driverman if he could take me to Mae Rim; which request he had trouble understanding, until he realised I’d been mispronouncing it. “Mae Reem, Mae Reem, Mae Reem,” he corrected. Yes, he could take me there. I figured I should haggle the price, but he told me to just get in.
Got me (and others) to Mae Rim safe and sound, and only charged 20 Baht (that works out to about 66.6 cents — no shit!). What? Either this son of a bitch was an angel straight from heaven, or sangthaew transport in this town is very inexpensive.
Came to the museum straight away. I guess it’s where the royal family used to live. And so the house is preserved as if there were a royal family still living there; with their bed, and their fine china and all, all set out on display. Pretty boring, really. And if you wanna know the reason it’s pretty boring, I’ll tell you: prohibition against the performing of spiritual incantations or magic.
I keep trying to explain to these fuckers: lift the prohibition against spiritual incantations or magic, and your musea will be so much the more exciting. But they never listen.
Came now to the Royal Temple which was (running out of adjectives for these goddam temples, so maybe just insert your own here). Probably the most spectacular temple yet. Not my favourite, but right up there in the top several.
And definitely the only temple (at least that I’ve seen) with a giant golden chicken.
After the temple, I tried to soldier it forward, but the map had steered me wrong (surprise surprise). I could see the road where I wanted to be, but barbed wire was preventing my attaining that road. It looked like I might have to walk all the way back down and around, past the museum and the cop-shop and everything, to the main road, and then back up again. I did get to see this strange and beautiful tree, however.
Finally, after a bit of hunting, was able to locate a place where some good folks had laid low the barbed wire, and made a trail to the road. Okay.
Then it was about an hour’s walk to the orchid/butterfly farm, which turned out to be only orchids. They were fine; but I kinda got my fill of orchids while stationed on Hawaii The Big Island. So the orchids didn’t, like, float my boat all the way up and outta the river (so to say).
Tell me, however, that this ain’t an ass-kicker of a gazebo?
Tell me (also) when’s the last time you ever seen a statue of a microphone-holding, peace-sign-giving toad?
Another half-hour’s walk or so brought me to the “Monkey Centre”. Along the way, I passed this place.
Decided to check it out on the way back down — but then forgot all about it and returned via a different route. Fuck!
Well, at the “Monkey Centre” you could catch a “Monkey Show” for 200 Baht. Declined. (Anyway, it probably would’ve made me sick to my stomach; just as the “Elephant Show” at the Bangkok Zoo had done. I mean, how would we like it if elephants put us into cages, and then bribed us into performing “tricks” for “treats”?)
Lounging in the rest area outside the Monkey Centre, a man and his python.
Very nice fellow, in point of fact. After chatting for a while, he told me the falls were about one-and-a-half kilometres more up the road. It was up, too: from here, we started getting into the foothills, and I was able to get a little uphill-climb blood-pumping action going on.
Yeah, there was a “Crocodile Show”, and a “Buffalo Camp”, and a “Tiger Camp”, and an “Insect Zoo”, and three (count ’em) snake farms, and many orchid farms. But, really, I was interested to see the Mae Sa waterfall (and its eponymous temple).
When I passed some landmarks which, according to the map, I should not have passed before reaching the falls (and plus which it seemed I’d traveled more that 1.5km since the “Monkey Centre”), I began to ask locals. Some pointed up the road, some down. But it seemed more were pointing up than down, so on I walked.
And finally arrived! Only, it’s not a waterfall, it’s like ten of them (or what). And, you gotta hike way many kilometres back into the bush to get to them. And, it’s 100 Baht to enter the park. Would really loved to have done it, but it was already getting on toward sundown, and I still had to walk all the way back down to the main road. This would make a square-up day-hike, if I’m not mistaken. If/when I return to Chiang Mai, will needs must give it a try!
So, some — most, perhaps — will say I failed in my goals to-day. Failed honourably, true, being that I actually did arrive at the desired destinations. But failed nonetheless. Can’t disagree.
But you just never know in this world. Because I did see some great scenery. Not, begging your pardon, Hawaii The Big Island great. But, still, pretty great.
Moreover, had I not trod the paths to-day I trod, I may never have witnessed this sign.
And I most certainly would never have witnessed this gentlemen; possibly the most bad-assed of gentlemen ever have I laid eyes upon (Chuck Bronson excepted — but I should guess that that goes without saying).
Made my way back down to the main road (did pass up an opportunity to visit “Tod Mork Waterfall”, which would’ve been nine kilometres, one way, out of the way…but, damn, who doesn’t want to visit a place called “Tod Mork Waterfall”!?!?), and hopped another sangthaew.
On the way back to Chiang Mai, I became obsessed with snapping photographs of motorcyclists as they passed us. This is my favourite. Sooner or later, I shall get all the rest uploaded to the Flickr page.
This sangthaew driverette was even more angelic than the first driver had been, as she charged me only 16 Baht to ride all the way back into town. Next time I’m in Chiang Mai, I’m a-gonna be all about the sangthaew, I can promise you that right now, bay-bee!