Northern Thailand and the road to Tha Ton

Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai, Tha Ton, travel

Trekking in Northern Thailand 1

So, my my folks were traveling through China, while my sister, Marika was prepping her own trip to visit me, and, with an extended time off between school semesters, I was headed north to Tha Ton, right on the border with Myanmar.

I’d just spent a few days in Chiang Mai, arguably the most traveled-to city in northern Thailand; I didn’t stay very long given that Marika and I would be spending time there when she visited, but it’s a nice area and I got to touch base with one of the guys from my TEFL certification course who was then living and teaching there, which was pretty great.

That afternoon, after lunch with this friend, I got on a bus for the four hour ride to Tha Ton, the northern most town in Chiang Mai province (Chiang Mai is both a city and a province, like Quebec). The bus wasn’t air conditioned but open windows and an open side door ensured a comfortable ride . . . well, comfortable enough; it’s a bumpy and winding road but with stunning scenery.

It was dark by the time I got to That Ton and, thankfully, I noticed when the bus stopped that it wasn’t far from my hotel and jumped out before it headed on to the bus depot, which I had read was a good 5 km from town.

It’s a sleepy little town . . . except for the dogs. I had read that there were many stray dogs and that they could be aggressive, but I figured, hell, it’s Thailand, where even stray dogs seem to smile at you, and thought little of it. Well, they weren’t kidding. Smothered in darkness, I had to walk down a long and winding lane to get to my hotel and was followed on three occasions by growling and barking dogs. I just kept walking, knowing that running would provoke a chase and that eye contact would be viewed as aggression, and they eventually gave up on me.

Not the dogs I encountered in Tha Ton but you get the picture

And then I finally saw the sign to my hotel . . . and the three dogs laying under it. The trio rose when they saw me coming . . . and wagged their tails and came running and bounding around me. They were the hotel’s dogs and basically acted as welcoming committee.

The poor woman at the counter spoke no English and I came to understand that she was just filling in due to an emergency. Interestingly, it seemed my Thai was actually coming along fairly well and we were eventually able to understand each other. Mostly.

I then realized I had forgotten my debit card in an ATM in Chiang Mai. Luckily, I had cash enough to pay for the hotel and still had my RBC visa with which to take out more cash . . . but it was annoying as hell and meant I had to call and suspend my card.

So I retired to my slightly rundown but lovely cabin and read for a bit before calling it a night. The following day I had to figure out the treks I wanted to do around there, including a visit to local hilltribe villages.