After 3 weeks volunteering in Mu Aye Pu, playing with bears, and discovering untouched landscapes, it’s time to move on to Mae Sariang. Mainly because my Thai visa doesn’t last for much longer.
My next destination was supposed to be China, but due to Coronavirus, my flight was canceled. During those 3 weeks in the village, I don’t have much contact with the outside world, but I know that the COVID situation is scaling. It was actually very good to be in a remote place with no worries about what is going on in the world. At that moment the COVID was mainly in China and I’m not sure if I should go there or not. But, I need to make a decision cause I’m not willing to stay in Thailand forever. Therefore, after Thailand, I decided that I will go to Laos and wait there to see how the Coronavirus situation progress in China. If things got better, like I was hoping to, I will cross the land border from Laos to China. But I still have a few days on my visa, so I decided to visit a city in Thailand where I haven’t been before: Chiang Mai.
From Mu Aye Pu to Mae Sariang
It took me the whole day to get from Mu Aye Pu to Chiang Mai. After saying the goodbyes, I need to walk about 15 minutes with my backpack on, wait for someone to help me cross the river on the zipline boat, and then walk 5 more minutes until I reach the main street. I was actually very lucky this time because there was a woman crossing the river from Myanmar to Thailand at the same moment that I wanted to, otherwise, I could have to wait until someone shows up, that depending on the days could take more than 20 minutes…
I hopped on the orange pick up truck that goes to Mae Sariang not much later than 9.30 am and reached Mae Sariang at about 12 pm. It was a long and not comfortable journey. We stopped several times so the police could check the passengers’ ID’s but they never checked my passport. I guess those checkpoints are meant to control illegal Myanmar workers that are very common in this area. In fact, I could identify many Myanmar people on this bus. The street is between mountains, thus, turns and twists were inevitable. At some point, I was starting to feel motion sick, but the views are majestic. The sound of nature is all around us and not many cars are seen on this street. The journey cost me about 140 bahts. From Mae Sariang bus station, I need to go to someplace where I can buy a ticket to Chiang Mai this same day. A motorbike rider was there to help me out and charged me 40 bahts for a 5 minutes ride, which I found expensive by the way… The distance between the bus station to Chiang Mae and the bus station where buses arrive from Mae Sot is 2,6 km. Not that close for a walk under the mid-day sun.
From Mae Sariang to Chiang Mai
Once at the place where the minivans to Chaing Mai depart, I tell the lady what I’m looking for. There are no buses from Mae Sariang to Chiang Mai, only minivans. The lady was not sympathetic and maybe a bit rude. She looked like she wanted me to go away… I reach the place not much after 12 pm and she told me that the only minivan available from Mae Sariang to Chiang Mai is at 5 pm. The way she said it really looked like she is misprizing me. I was very surprised by the fact that I would have to wait 5 hours for a minivan to Chiang Mai. I wasn’t expecting it at all. But I don’t have any other option, so after thinking for a while, I went back to talk to her.
I said ok, I need a ticket to Chiang Mai anyway and if there isn’t another chance I will definitely have to wait 5 hours for it. I think she wasn’t expecting. She got nicer and told me that after all, I can go at 3 pm. I was so happy when she told that!!! Waiting for less than 3 hours is totally fine!!
I went to a nearby restaurant cause I was already starving, and had the biggest portion of chicken noodles ever. Those noodles were very delicious and satisfying. The place looks cute and I sat there for a while before going back to the minivan place. This place is marked on maps-me as “New bus station Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Som”, and the company name is Prempracha. The restaurant is named Thailand restaurant soup noodles and is the only one you will see nearby.
The minivan took more than 3 hours to get from Mae Sariang to Chiang Mai. I arrived in Chiang Mai at dusk. The bus station is not so far from the place where I will be staying but I called a Grab motorbike. This was a very tiring day so I basically ate and slept. The coronavirus doesn’t seem to be here yet and I don’t see anything happening out of normal. People in Asia are used to wear masks anyway…