Thursday, 21 December 2006

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

the police officer, part II (busted)

A new day on the messy roads of Chiang Mai, and i headed off for the immigration office together with T to extend our visas. Following a rickshaw and some other guys on motorbikes through the narrow ”sois”, i began to feel driving motorbike in Chiang Mai was not that difficult anymore. Then, from nowhere, a police officer on motorbike appeared. He rased his arm and stopped me. This time i had my passport in my pocket. And this time i didn´t got away that easy. He asked me for my passport, went away and started to chat with some other guys in uniform. Then he came back with a bunch of paper. He tried to explain something in thai english i didn´t understand, and when i tried to take my passport back he pointed first at himself, then at his motorbike.

”You must go police station at Wallolot malket” he said. ”Follow my moto(l)bike”.

I was of course confused, but i kickstarted my bike and started following the officer (still holding my passport), and saw another guy driving up behind me! I was busted, indeed. Finally at the police station, i realized i wasn´t the only criminal arrested today. The highway police had been busy. The place was actually crowded with both thai and falangs, and many of the falangs not there for the first time. It was like:

”Hey Ben, you here again?”
”Uh yeah Jerry, what you here for this time?”

…and i was the new kid on the block. After listening to Ben and Jerrys storys about the highway police way to long, the police officer who still had my passport came back, gave it to me and told me to wait ”5 minutes”. I was afraid the thai bureaucracy would take the whole day, me stuck with Ben & Jerry (the kind of guys visiting Thailand only in one purpose...)! But i was surprised, it only took a few minutes of paperwork, the clerks working fast. Then i was charged 400 bath for driving the wrong direction on a one-way street and free to go.
Silly thing is, i was actually driving the same way the thai guys did, and they were not stopped. But i have now realized that for thai police officers, falangs on motorbikes is a good extra income.

And the immigration office? No problem. 30 more days. But i still have to do this ”visa-run” in the end of january.

And, yes, talked to Lasses friend today. Gonna meet him on Friday, maybe he have a studio for me! Pleeeeeeease…

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

the police officer

Yes, went to Mr Order yesterday and I now have a beautiful silver-grey motorbike. Got 2 months for 5000 bath, service included, after some arguing about the price (starting price was 6000 bath).

And now i have been driving around in the madness of thai streets for 2 days. Its like: forget about the rules, put in a higher gear and ask the spirits for guidance. And today i got stopped by a well-dressed police officer! A new experience for me.
As he walked towards me i was, honestly, a bit nervous. I had my passport in a drawer in my flat, and what about if he asked to see it? But he didn´t, he just pointed at the left indicator, still flashing from my previous riskfull turning… then he waved me off, and i really didn´t understad if i was allowed to drive or not, the street was lined up with police officers on bikes and in cars, and i felt they were all looking at me. But apparently it was ok for me to go on.

Now having a motorbike, next thing to deal with is getting a studio. Can´t work in my small flat! When visiting my new friend Lars (danish) at the ”La Luna Gallery” earlier today, he gave me a phonenumber to one of his friends, who hopefully can help me. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 17 December 2006

A motorbike for every thai

Getting around in Thai cities is very easy, just imagine any possible transport, they probably got it. But, i have realized that if im gonna stay here, i´ll need to get around the way the thais do: on a motorbike. A good reason for that is the buses aren´t that reliable, they are kind of depending on if the driver wan´t to drive or not, and i also get tired of having to argue with the songthaew driver about the fare every time i wan´t to go somewhere. So, tomorrow i´m going to Mr Order where they have bikes to reasonable prices.

But this motorbike thing also makes me think about just how much Thailand want´s to be a urban, western-style country. Every single thai who can afford it get himself a motorbike (or car, of course). Bicycle is soo 90´s…
I don´t blame them for wanting a more comfortable, western way of living. I think many europeans have a strange idea of asian streets crowded with old fashion bikes, at least is that how i remember it from China 10 years ago, but things are changing. When they can afford it, of course they want the same standard as Europe or the US.
But, sometimes this not make sense at all. Young, upper class Asians are very well dressed, streets at night can sometimes look lika a cat walk, and they also know how to dress for every season. And now it´s christmas time… a few days ago i went to the fancy shopping centre close to where i live, and i saw this girl, maybe 20, in a very nice winter outfit: gloves, coat, a nice warm hat, boots, the only problem maybe it´s + 25-30 degrees outside…

It shows just how much they want to look ”west”. They even use a special lotion making their skin white (for thai guys an Asian girl with white skin is about the most beautiful they can imagine), and at the same time, beaches are crowded with people from the west, desperately trying to get a nice tan…
Kind of funny.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Back in Chiang Mai

Very short introduction:
After 3 months of travelling (UK, US and Thailand), i´m now based in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, and probably gonna stay here for a while. Yeah!

Anyway, just came back here after a 5 day trip to a very remote area in the mountains close to Myanmar (Burma) with some friends. No, this was not the typical commercial backpacker package tour with visiting the hilltribes, smoking weed and bamboo rafting. I get sick of that (this city is crowded with tourist agencys promising "untouched" nature). This was hardcore haha! I went there with Kent who started to work with the hilltribes in the 70´s, and now have 2 shops selling hill tribe handcraft (read more about it on, and his daughter Linnea. They have their home in the djungle, and when they asked me to come along for a week, of course i said yes!

I brought my sketchpad and forgot about almost everything else. Early monday morning we went away in their big SUV and arrived about 10 hours later, much of the ride on non-existing muddy roads. But, there it was, a beatuful place in the middle of nowhere, in a small valley surrounded by sky high cloudy mountains. Home for the Karen people, and also were the hill tribes work together with Kent and Linnea, who are going back and forward between Chiang Mai, Bangkok and this area.

Far away from everything else, this was the perfect place for me at the moment. No electricity or hot water, just focus on my paintings when not fighting huge spiders or snakes. And, when in the mountains, of course i went on a few hours climbing to the top of one of the mountains, with a great view over the valleys and Myanmar. And i also did this sort of Edelweiss thing… you know, in the mountains there is this flower, who only grows in a certain tree on a certain height and so on, and since i went up there with a man from the Karen tribe, he showed me where to find this flower. I collected a few and actually managed to bring them back to Chiang Mai (remember the bumpy road), feeling like ”the old man” struggeling for his giant fish in Hemingways ”the old man and the sea”!

So, now i´m back in my small studio flat just outside the city center, my sketchpad is a mess of ideas so i guess i´ll start working now.