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Mission to The Burmese Border

The red shirts were planning to initiate a huge demonstration that weekend, and Dane looked up at us, through the steam coming off of his perfectly prepared latte.

He swallowed the last of his mouthful of chocolate cake and said, “It could be the end of Thailand as we know it. I’m talking revolution; war in the streets.”

Scott pulled off his headphones, which could just barely be heard pumping out distant strains of trance music. “Bombs are planned for all over the city. I really think we should get out of here for that weekend.”

Scott and I are usually not ones to argue with a Bureau Chief’s suggestions, especially when they are offered under the pretenses of avoiding being wounded or maimed. And with that Dane began a furious Facebook campaign to get his Thai friends together for an outing to the north. Sangklaburi was the name of the place. It lies on the shores of a giant man-made lake, nestled in the northwest of Thailand along the Burmese border.

And it was because of this that we came to be waking up at 5:30 am, to the strains of SIM City 2000. For the first time in the trip, we were stripping down our luggage to the bare minimum. No large packs, no cycles. We would rent them there. In the dark and the confusion, I forgot to pack a swim suit, shorts, sunscreen or my phone charger, but appeared at the elevator right at 6:00, ready to accompany Dane and Karona down to a cab. Scott, on the other hand, remembered most everything important, but was quite late getting out the door, leaving Dane huffing and puffing in the elevator about missing our ferry. You may intuit, dear reader, how the AsiaWheeling team members complement each other.

Next ensued a series of missteps, miscommunications, mistimed bathroom runs and clueless cab drivers that resulted in our group finally convening just after the train to Kanchanaburi had left the station. Drat. Some consolation was to be had in that our group of nine people was finally together, and that coffee and grilled pork and sticky rice were easily purchased on the street.

After a number of ideas were thrown around, we finally selected a bus as the next best option. The fates would have it that, once we arrived at the bus station, a bus would be idling, as if waiting for us, all set to leave for Kanchanaburi. We climbed on, and I promptly fell asleep, only to wake up when the bus came to a halt at our destination.

This was only half way to Sangklaburi, and there would be a little time before we boarded the van that would take us the rest of the way north and up into the mountains.

It was high time for some noodles.

The van ride was tough, with lots of elevation changes and a twisting mountain road. The interior was hot, and we were jostled from side to side bumping sweatily against our fellow passengers. Scott and I were quite thankful for the Panama hats. While in the upright position, the hats provide protection from the sun, and loss of one’s fellow wheeler in a crowd, but when tilted down over the eyes, they provide a virtually impenetrable field of sleepiness, allowing the AsiaWheeling team to doze in even the most hectic situations.

Finally, we arrived at Sangklaburi, where we found our guest house, the P. Guesthouse, to be welcoming, frighteningly affordable, and gorgeous.

It was made mostly from dark wood, with giant granite tables expanding along a deck overlooking the lake.

Devastatingly idyllic.  The guesthouse itself looked like it belonged in Whitefish, Montana.

Dinner was Burmese-Thai food.

Very different from that which we’d had so far in Bangkok.

We tried the local tom yum soup, which was so spicy that most at the table could not have more than a small taste.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing on the deck and swimming in the lake.

When night fell, we began strolling the streets of the tiny town, which sported hundreds of brand new looking golden rooster lamp posts, and more than its fair share of loud and none too shy stray dogs.


  1. Kelsey | April 16th, 2010 | 1:23 pm

    the view and the food both look fantastic! What a great destination for your escape from the Red Shirts!

  2. John Norton | April 16th, 2010 | 2:33 pm

    So, which person was the Burmese boarder?

  3. Mark/Dad | April 18th, 2010 | 9:55 am

    Very beautiful: scenery, lodgings, and food. Nice to have a larger party for a while, I’m sure–I like “meeting” folks along the way, so I enjoy pictures and stories of the team.

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