The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

Month December 2016

Chiang Mai walking street, 9:44 pm

The street is filled with people, they mill about among the vendors, buying snacks and souvenirs. The air is filled with didgeridoo music, a deep driving rhythm, almost like hard rock. The sky is filled with floating lanterns, glowing orange lights that drift upwards on the breeze.… Read the rest

The Big Indochina Trip: elephants

Chiang Mai is rife with activities like rock climbing, zip lining, bungee jumping, you name it. I’ve tried all of them at some time or other except one, petting elephants. A lot of the time when people are allowed to get close to some kind of animal it’s kind of exploitative, and dangerous to both man and beast. There are lots of operators that offer tours that include petting and riding elephants or even circus  like shows. The problem is that the elephants are often trained using a metal hook that causes pain and even when their not, according to … Read the rest

Maerim Elephant Sanctuatry, 9-ish am.

The grey trunk comes snaking around me from behind, the moist end sniffing out the bananas in the bag on my hip. At the same time, the elephant in front of me also reaches her trunk in my direction, trying to get at the tasty treats. I can barely get the bananas out of the bag fast enough for them. As soon as I do, it only takes a second before one of the elephants has grabbed it and deposited it in its mouth. They are as tall as me and weigh two thousand kilos each but they act like … Read the rest

The Big Indochina Trip: the Mae Hong Son loop, day 3

The road back from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai is bit longer than the previous two days so I was planning to get an early start. However, just as I was getting ready to go, my hosts invited me to go sightseeing with them and they were so nice to me I just couldn’t say no. They took me to Su Tong Pae bamboo bridge. It’s pretty similar to the one in Pai but they claim this is the original, the one in Pai a copy. They kept being super nice to me so tried to at least buy … Read the rest

Road 1263, 1:56 pm

Am I still in Thailand? It sure doesn’t seem like it with these surroundings. On both sides of the road are rolling hills, on the right they are covered in withering, brown corn stalks on the left, the dark green of pine forests, with brown, bare tea bushes in neat rows lower down in the valley. This high up, the sweltering heat of the lowlands is gone, the air is cool and crisp like an autumn day. If I didn’t know better I would think I’m somewhere in Europe.… Read the rest

The Big Indochina Trip: the Mae Hong Son loop, day 2

When I woke up this morning the bike wouldn’t start. Though it seemed fine last night the battery had died during the night. I tried to push start it a couple of times but eventuallyI had to go to a repair shop to get a new battery. 

While walking around in the town last night, I took note of a few of the places Near Pai that tour companies bring their clients to. My next goal was only about 100 kilometers away so despite wasting an hour on the broken bike, I figured I still had time. 

My first stop … Read the rest

The Big Indochina Trip: The Mae Hong Son loop, day 1

Like I mentioned in my last post a lot of travelers have talked about riding motorbikes from Chiang Mai to Pai. When I studied the map I realized there’s a loop called the Mae HongSon loop that people do in a couple of days. It runs northward from Chiang Mai up to Pai, westward over to Mae Hong Son, then back to Chiang Mai in a big southward semi circle (see the map below for details). This sounded like the perfect plan for me, so in the morning I set of in search for a motorbike. 

Map of the MaeHong
Read the rest

Tha Pai hotspring, 5:00 pm

The sign says 34 degrees and the one in the next pool reads 35. Somewhere off to the left is the source, the hot water cascading down from pool to pool, dropping in temperature along the way. This hotspring river as it were, flows through the forest, trees growing right at the edge. Thick vines grow from tree to tree, stretching across the water, hanging low down with people sitting or leaning on them as they relax in the heat.… Read the rest

Pai canyon, 3:34 pm

A tall sandstone ridge runs through the forests, winding its way forward and branching off here and there, sending out tendrils of rock like tentacles into the undergrowth. A small footpath runs along the top of the ridge, at places barely wide enough for a person  to stand, the sides falling away steeply without so much as a hint of a safety rail; one wrong step here and you go tumbling over the precipice. The part I’m on now slopes steeply downwards, and a deep fissure has been cut through the soft material, presumably by streams of water in the … Read the rest

Mok fa waterfall, 11:39 am

It seems no matter how many waterfalls I see, they still have a powerful draw for me. This one is neither the highest nor the widest I’ve seen in this journey, just two streams of water, tumbling down an irregular cliff face covered in plants, to a pool and a small beach of coarse sand. I stand, ankle deep in the cool water, contemplating the booming noise.… Read the rest

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