A Series of Bizarre Events

A couple days ago we visited a permaculture farm in the hills near Chiang Mai. Populated by hippies, the farm was an experiment in living as much as possible in a self-sustained and off-the-grid way. Everything is composted, much of the food is grown on the property, the buildings are made out of clay dug up on the grounds, the water for showers and sinks is collected rainwater, the waste water is directed into pits surrounded by banana and papaya trees that soak it up, and even the human waste is alternately collected and spread after 6 months in the “fruit forest”. It’s a really interesting look at how to live better and treat the Earth with respect.

That night we went out for a drink and met this Japanese man someone else had met earlier in the day. He sat down at the bar with us only to disappear without a word a short time later. Keep him in mind.

So yesterday (sort of today because we took the overnight bus to Bangkok and I didn’t really sleep) we got up to go to the Chiang Mai museum, which was interesting. Afterward we arrive back at the guest house to discover smoke coming from the back corner of the building. The owners didn’t seem to take it to seriously, but as the smoke spread things got frantic. There was definitely a fire in the building, and soon firefighters arrived to try to put it out. Thankfully we had already brought our stuff down out of our rooms. We had to leave to make our night bus, but left the area with the building smoking out of every floor and a man trapped on the third floor trying to find a way out. Hopefully the building is still standing.

Next we went to get some food before the bus, and the Japanese man walked by outside. I called to him and he confusedly came over and had absolutely no memory of any of us. He awkwardly explained he had been really drunk, and didn’t even remember the girl he first met at noon the previous day. Very strange.

So then we take the night bus and arrive in Bangkok at 5:15 AM. Everyone is eating so I decide to go find a bathroom and wash up. I approach a guest house and a ladyboy (that’s the accepted term for a crossdresser here) approached me and I assumed she worked there. She told me where the bathroom was, and then followed me upstairs to it and cornered me asking first for sex and then trying to get money. I didn’t have wallet thankfully, and quickly made it out of there and found a less sketchy place. Between the fire, random forgetful man, and prostitute, it has been a very interesting 24 hours.

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5 thoughts on “A Series of Bizarre Events

  1. This was like reading a mystery story! Here is wishing you sleep on the bus to Phnom-Phen. You’ll be happy to know that it is actually hotter here right now than where you are!

  2. Chris – I had to comment on this one. Leaving a burning building to make a bus, escaping a cross-dressing beggar, and repeatedly crossing paths with an amnesiac — you’ve got the makings of either a surrealistic short story or a Twilight Zone episode! I’m wondering how you (Americans) are treated there – and in Phnom-Phen. Is everyone friendly? Suspicious? Anyone decide to give you their take on our country? And would you say the people are generally content with their lives?

    • Phnom Penh and wider Cambodia is really a pleasure. There are plenty of scammers out there to take advantage of foreigners who don’t know better about tuk tuk prices and the like, but my experiences with the people have been overwhelmingly positive. Despite their sometimes extreme poverty (especially in some of the outer villages), all are very cheerful and always willing to strike up a friendly conversation.

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