October 29th, 2007 part 1
From Chiang Mai, I arranged a ride out to Doi Suthep Mountain to visit a famous temple that looked remarkable from the small photo in the Lonely planet.
A really nice man in a pick-up drove me out and was actually the first person in Thailand ever to talk politics with me. I'd heard it can be a very taboo subject, maybe stemming from the fact that if you speak badly of the Royal family, you could be put to death, but I just listened without any opinion. The first of the major demonstrations in Bangkok began not long after I left, so there must have been a lot more political talk around this time.
As we wound our way up the mountain, he suggested that we visit a hill-tribe further up the mountain first, then make our way down, stopping at a look-off, and then the temple.
Arriving at the Hmong Meo village was exciting, I'm always a sucker for these kinds of places, but it very quickly started to feel like a tourist trap, since the first thing you are lead through is a market set up selling clothes and bags, and even a Tibetan shop that somehow managed to set up there. I did buy a bag of Thai oolong tea, though my expectations for it weren't high, which kept it from being disappointing but didn't make it any more impressive!
The village was nice, with certain houses set up almost like museums that you could walk through. It was lively with people and happy looking children and the further into the village I walked, the more beautiful it became with flowers blooming and a great view of the misty hillside.
I followed a path that lead to a sort of a waterfall, more of a stream running down a steep rock, and was soon joined by three little girls who'd be running around playing. The began scampering up the rocky slope then stopped and began shouting at me, "Mister, 20 baht we show you everything!" I thought they were offering me a tour, which wasn't really necessary, I'd seen the whole place, until one repeated, "20 baht, we show you everything!" while pointing at her friend's crotch, who was giggling hysterically. It sent a chill up my spine and my head started spinning and it made me a little sick to my stomach. I looked around to see if anyone was looking, somehow, I felt as though I'd done something wrong even though I hadn't, an I saw an old man sitting across the slop on a chair with a cell phone in his hand. I sort of wondered if it was a trap and he was ready to call the police or someone but was too confused to know what was going on.
I pretty much made a B-line back to the entrance where my driver was waiting, sure I never wanted to come back to this village again!