27 July 2004: Sansai, Thailand
Two years ago today I wasnt sure if Id live two more minutes.
Whod have thought Id be on the cover of a magazine in Thailand, writing a
feature series of articles about that experience and touring the country on a ZX-10 motorcycle? (Dont worry. Im not writing while riding the bike.) The articles in English and Thai! (No, I didnt translate the English, but Im pretty good at ordering food, gently declining to buy flowers from hill tribe ladies and understanding directions to the toilet.)
Although Give and Live is still alive and well, and very small, the bigger vision slowly becomes clearer. Im continually meeting new people and waiting for the appropriate project to appear. Life takes time. In between the idleness, Ive been busy. Click and peruse.
Columnist for Good Morning Chiangmai News (GMCMN June): Why Chiangmai? [
Links on laughlane.com ]
Feature articles for GMCMN July-Sept issues: Ecstasy to Catastrophe. [
Links on laughlane.com ]
Observer / evaluator for Text and Talk Academy in Chiangmai.
Writer / photographer / musician / website designer for
The Hug Restaurant.
And theres a new story about Vietnam traffic antics
at laughlane.com: Bike Heaven or Hell?
Home is where the heart is
and the office.
Out of the blue, a vacant bungalow appeared in the countryside near
San Sai, about 10 km north of Chiangmai. I inspected it for a full eleven seconds, asked how much and said, Where do I sign? I live here. Would you leave now? Bedroom, living room, inside/outside bathroom, spacious, covered, teak deck with attached kitchen outside, a tiny river ten feet to one side, a mile of marsh in the back and Doi Sutep (Sutep Mountain) serving sumptuous sunsets on the horizon through my hanging orchids. Geckos scamper across the ceiling. Butterflies dance on the deck. Soaring stands of bamboo keep it reasonably cool
creaking, cracking and booming in the breeze. Its about the nicest place Ive ever lived.
My neighbors and frequent visitors are a gaggle of geese, a lazy pack of dogs, roving flocks of multi-colored chickens, a pair of swans, a covey of ducks (Covey? Herd? Bunch? Shitload?), twin black cats from hell, a plethora of exotic birds and an infinite number of ants, times two, or more. And one horse that stops by for an apple or banana. You never know which of these creatures may be on the deck or in the kitchen in the morning. One day I emerged, sans spectacles, from the inside bedroom to the outside kitchen to find a large, dark pile of poop in the middle of the floor. While reaching for paper towels, sponge and cleaner, the poop hopped out of the kitchen and off the deck. Toad. Size XXL. Hopefully it likes ants.
Savor the sunset from the deck (left and upper right photos) and then soon hear of the impending sunrise from the time-challenged cocks, which often begin their doodle-dooing several hours before the sun is near this side of the world. A passing bike headlight can send them into a doodling frenzy. They incessantly remind me the sun is up all throughout the day. These are roving roosters so its not uncommon for one or two or ten to be outside my bedroom window at 2 AM, four feet from my ears. I expect to open my eyes and see one on the bed, comb, head and beak resting on the pillow next to me. Goodoodle morning. The sunrise will be in four hours. Can I get you a fresh egg from one of my ladies? (My next snooze alarm will be a hatchet and grilled, semi-boneless breast for breakfast.) Daily tasks? Feed the miscellaneous fish in the lotus pots, water the orchids, watch and measure the bamboo grow (six inches a day, seven feet in two weeks, incredible) and try to convince the ants to march under, around or over the bungalow with an array of tools: brooms, poison-to-go, threatening gestures, Ant Psychology 101, food offerings in an ant spirit house and fervent prayer. Queen Ant says: Mellow out. Weve lived here forever. Youre just visiting.
Motorsay khun ja set prungnii. (Your bike will be finished tomorrow.)
My mechanic has been saying tomorrow everyday for three weeks. The last time I saw him, he was surrounded by my entire and completely disassembled engine, cleaning every valve, screw, ligament, carbuncle and contrabulator. (I dont want to upset him because he could return the parts in buckets and boxes. I might be able to make a wind chime out of them.) I moved to Mae Jo and simultaneously my bike died, trapping me in paradise with my toad and an Internet connection that moves at the same speed as the toad, or the bike, depending on the day, the sunspots or Buddha.
Ive rented bikes, borrowed vehicles and one particularly memorable car called Elsie. A Toyota made just before the Industrial Revolution, shes held together precariously with electrical tape, super glue and seven or eight bolts. Her motor bellows loudly like youd expect from a bovine named Elsie. Theres no seat belt, but sometimes the adhesive that sometimes holds the upholstery together sometimes holds your seat to her seat. Windshield wipers are essential since its the rainy season, which means the heavens open religiously and regularly, or in explicit terminology from North Carolina that should make Elsie feel right at home: It rains like a cow pissin on a flat rock. Elsie has one wiper, conveniently placed on the drivers side, that takes an excruciating eight seconds for one up-and-down wipe. (One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three...) Unfortunately the lights have to be off for the wiper to be on.
Imagine driving on the flat rock road home at night, turning the lights off, sweating through four seconds until the wipers in the up position, turning the lights on, sweating through random seconds of marginal sight, lights off again, sweating four seconds until the down position, etcetera, etcetera, till death do us part. Elsie is basically a clown car: the one that enters the circus tent, the doors fall off, 36 people get out; it careens into the next ring, water squirting from the headlights, then explodes and showers the crowd with red rubber noses.
I hope to get my bike back tomorrow, the next day after Ive written this, or the next day after youve read it, whichever comes first, or last. This weekend I may go sit on my parts on the shop floor and watch a video about biking northern Thailand. Hey, maybe if I give the horse a few more apples, put a banana on a stick
I think about visiting the USA, but thats as far as I get.
Id love to see my friends and family, but Id miss my orchids, geckos, bike parts and the cost of living in Thailand. During my last trip to America, I vividly remember picking up and not buying a pineapple in a grocery store: cost $6.75. In Thailand, $6.75 = 270 baht gives me a nights lodging in a beautiful bungalow at Baan Nam Hoo in the mountains of Pai (100 baht, photo to left), a steaming dish of Pad Thai in the Sunday Night Market (10), fifty, count em, fifty stems of orchids or roses in the flower market (50), a bottle of green tea (13), a whole hot BBQ chicken (40), two ears of roasted corn on the cob (10), a couple of fresh mangos (5), a cup of iced coffee (10), a stick of bamboo filled with sweet sticky rice and black beans (2), a garland of jasmine flowers for a friend (5), a baby bee omelet, yes, baby bee, not for me, maybe for that friend, anyone else but me (15), a peeled, pared and cubed pineapple (10 baht) and a FREE pineapple plant in front of my mountain bungalow.
And Id definitely miss Hopping Poop the Toad. But trust me: Ill see you tomorrow for sure.
DAY TO DAY updates:
Day to Day has become month to month.
21 March 2004: Chiangmai, Thailand
R & R and R & R for the R: rest, relaxation, roots and rubber for the road...
20 December 2003: Chiangmai and Pai, Thailand
DAY TO DAY updates:
Give-Live-Ride Thailand Charity
Motorcycle Ride 2007!
January 2007, All Over Northern Thailand
220,000 baht, fireworks,
badminton and love!
16 November 2005, Children's Garden, Doi Saket, Thailand
Srinehru Hmong School Gets New
15 October 2005, Khun Chang Khian, Thailand
FERC Give and Live Benefits USA
Concert Tour 2006
Raises One Million Baht for Thailand's Children
26 August - 6 October, 2005: All across
FERC's 6th Annual Benefit Gala!
19 February 2005, Chiangmai, Thailand
There's more to give than money.
28 November 2004: Children's Garden, Doi Saket,
FERC's First Give and Live Benefit
September - October 2004: Chiangmai,