Across From Burma

Throughout the 90s I biked up from Chiang Mai to Mai Sai on the Thai-Burma border. A small river separated the two countries. The people on both sides looked the same and the houses were built in a similar fashion. I stayed at the Mai Sai Guest House to the left of the Friendship Bridge. They offered clean A-frame bungalows for 100 baht a night or about $3.

Butterflies flirted with the flowers and a pleasant waitress served breakfast in the morning and beers at night. The guest house never hit full capacity during my visits. I traveled strictly in low season, but the owner said, “High season. Many farang. Smoke opium. Sleep too much.”

Smoking Ma or Horse was a ritual of the Golden Triangle and I liked a pipe once in a while.

Young Burmese boys swam across the river at night.

A ball of O was cheap.

I slept late every day and rode a Triumph through the hills.

It was a good place to be.


I was 42.

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