- Susan Brown
Adventures and Blessings
Things I never dreamed I would say:
#1 Would you please hang this trash on the tree?
#2 Careful with that Walmart sack. It’s the only one I have.
#3 Oh, no! I left my sunglasses at the Buddhist temple.
What was I doing at the Buddhist temple? That’s a whole new story….
It began when I decided to go shopping at the day market. Brother Anond assured me it was easy now to accomplish this feat. The yellow taxis run something like a bus along the main road from Mae Rim to Chiang Mai. We live in a suburb of Mae Rim, whose many-syllabled name I don’t recall at the moment. I wouldn’t even have to tell the driver where I wanted to get off because the day market is the last stop on the line. All I had to do was walk a mile or so down the steep road and catch a yellow taxi. A white one going the right direction would get me there, too.
I started off down the road and reached the first curve when a couple riding a motorcycle stopped, shouting and laughing. It was Ludia, the woman who takes care of the orphanage pigs, and her husband. She cheerfully offered me a ride down the hill. I started to accept, but took a better look at the cycle. It was the small kind with skinny tires and was a bit on the ramshackle side. The deciding factor was the seat. She scooted closer to her husband and magnanimously offered me the remaining four inches or so. I declined as graciously as possible!
The walk to the road was pleasant and easy in the cool morning air. It was much shorter than it was the other day wen I walked up it carrying my computer case. I was able to enjoy the scenery — lush foliage, orchids growing by the wayside, mountains in the distance. Past the pig sty. (Picked up the pace during that section.) Past the water buffalo who came to stare at me. (Don’t think I’ve been stared at by a water buffalo before.) I crossed the busy road during a heaven-sent lull in traffic and hailed a white taxi with no problem.
Oh the day market! Huge buildings full of everything in the world, surrounded by narrow, crooked streets with shops crammed everywhere. I wandered down the street where they have tourist stuff in wholesale lots, shops of plasticware, and, of course, bags and shoes. I found my favorite, familiar building — the one with the first escalator in Chiang Mai, which has not worked in living memory. I bought lots of stuff we needed, and a couple of things we didn’t. My most interesting find was in the tea shop where I bought dried stevia leaves. At home in the U.S. I always bought stevia to sweeten my tea and was bemoaning the fact that I would run out soon. I can get the absolutely unprocessed stuff here. I bought Jasmine tea leaves to go with it and a teapot with an infuser to steep it.
After a couple of hours of shopping and a treat of coconut milk ice cream, I decided to head home. I soon wished I had gotten better instructions for the return journey. I approached a yellow taxi.
“Mae Rim?” I said to the driver. He looked at me like I had said a bad word, shook his head, and drove on. That was a little daunting, but I found a white taxi next. I came on a white taxi, so I was confident I could return on one.
“No, no!” he cried. “Yellow taxi.” Since I had just been turned down by a yellow taxi, this was not encouraging. However, the next one I found nodded and said, “Mae Rim.”
I climbed aboard with my purchases and waited for the taxi to fill up so we could leave. A couple of ladies about my age got on, and then a pleasant-faced lady in her late 30s. A frail elderly lady climbed in, along with a couple of young girls. New readers, are you picturing the taxi correctly? It is a pick-up truck with a cover on the back. We sit on bench seats along the sides. There are usually a couple of guys who stand on the special bumper and hang on at the back.
After a while I began to worry. We were going back to the main highway a different way. Where was the moat? The ancient statue? Were we going the right direction? I couldn’t tell. Vainly I looked for landmarks. Here was a temple with golden dragons at the steps. There are lots of those, though. The huge billboard of the queen was certainly familiar, but we have seen it all over Chiang Mai. Surely I would have remembered that large building trimmed in gold?
One of the older ladies spoke English enough to ask me where I was going. I told her “Mae Rim.”
“Mae Rim very large,” she said. “What part of Mae Rim.” Then, as now, I could not remember for the life of me the name of the suburb where we live.
“I will just get off when I see our road,” I said with more confidence than I felt. She looked worried. Every now and then she would ask, “Do you see it yet?”
No, but I couldn’t be sure. I still wasn’t sure that I was even on the right road, headed the right direction. At length, I saw the only landmark I could clearly remember — the Makro store. It would take about 20 more minutes. My friend could hardly stand to get off the taxi at her stop. She went and talked to the driver.
“You come sit up front,” she told me. “You tell him when you are home.”
Since I could only see well out the back of the taxi, I readily accepted this solution. Much easier to find a turn when you are looking ahead.
There it was — the Buddhist temple, and a mile or so later the sign of a horse and rider, and the little shop where we turn. I pointed to it with joy, and he let me out. Everyone was happy to see me arrive, because the driver had accommodatingly crept along so I could look for my turn. The people in the back kept yelling — and I’m sure I knew why!
I only had to walk back the block or so it had taken for him to find a stopping point. Alas, when I got to the street, I found it was the same sign, but a different shop. Not our street. Perhaps it was closer to the temple. I walked all the way to the temple, but no familiar street. I had gotten off at the wrong place after all. I went through the gates, guarded by golden lion dogs and sat down on a bench under a tree, dropping my bag with relief. My purchases were already heavy, so I hoped I wasn’t too far from home. I called Anond, and he said, “Oh no, you got off wrong place. About 5 kilometers away. Get white taxi.”
Off I went — leaving my sunglasses in the shade of the elaborate, golden temple. No white taxis to be seen, so I started walking along the road until one came by. Meanwhile Paul called. “Stay at the temple,” he said. Anond will come pick you up. He’s taking the Camps back to the condo, anyway.” I was already about a mile down the road from the temple, but Anond found me and even stopped back by the temple to get my sunglasses. He showed me his cousin’s house. “Next time you can stop here and she will help you.” I noted the house, but decided I would avoid making this particular mistake again, if at all possible!
Oh — and why do we hang trash on the tree? So the dogs and ants won’t get in it, of course. A garbage man comes and collects the trash from the tree every morning.
That the Wifi will be installed miraculously soon! We miss the easy contact we had before. We’re still going in to the condo to post and check emails.
Blessings from Thailand,