We woke up a bit earlier in our luxury room at the temple on the mountain top, made ourselves some chemical instant coffee, finished some cookies, packed up and hit the road, hoping to make use of still pleasant cool temperature outside. Breathtaking views, nice road, no cars – it felt just right! After 15min hiking downhill we noticed 3 Farang (means foreigner in Thai) motorcyclists approaching us. After 5 minutes of talking, we figured we have lots of things to talk about: the guys were from Czech Republic. They offered us a ride with them and here we were siting on the back of the motorcycles, catching the wind. We spent a fantastic time with David, Ludva a Kuba driving on these crazy serpentine roads, having breakfast at a market and chatting about travel experiences. They had a lot of funny stories to tell! Spending time with them made us a bit homesick. Definitely will go the guys na jedno in Prague or rather in Unetice 🙂
After exchanging advice and contacts, the guys dropped us on the road to Mae Salong. The town used to be one of the opium trade centers of the Golden Triangle but since the 1970s became a big Oolong tea producer. It is populated with local hill tribes, Thai people but mainly Kuomintang settlers from China. Restaurants, hotels, tea and coffee shops, signs, the language we heard, was all Chinese. And of course, we could not resist trying a cup of excellent tea and an americano. It was worth it.
It’s a small town and we figured we have seen the highlights and it was time to continue and see how far hitch-hiking would take us. The closest bigger town was Tha Ton, it seemed like it would be easy to find a temple to stay overnight there. Well, we found one temple. But later that night it became incredibly crowded as busloads of Thais were coming to receive blessings from the monks. This was the night when our phones disappeared. 😦 Therefore, not so many pictures, only those from Sascha’s old phone that the thief was not impressed with. Well, a bad old phone is better than no phone and camera. Once we realized what happened, we tried to raise awareness with the old monks that Sascha approached during their breakfast. 30min later a regional police officer and Long a local tour guide who helped us with translation came. They interviewed some young monks, took our details, filed the paperwork. And as always, the word spreads quickly in small places and it seemed that everyone knew what happened, eyeing us but nothing was found and we only heard “…Falang…iPhone…”. The monks seemed embarrassed and advised us next time when we look for a place to sleep we should rather talk to the temple management and we may be given a room as there are many empty rooms available. I guess we had bad karma that night.
Sascha suggested to spend a day in Tha Ton and come back to the temple later in the evening to see if the phones made it back. We planned on restoring our Thai SIM card, so we headed to the local police station. The police office was open but empty with the uniform nicely hanging and the polished shoes were waiting to be worn. A local outside of the office to my question where is the officer gestured the sleep sign and pointed on his watch. Oh, right, the after lunch nap! We left. 10 min later when we returned the officer was sitting with his legs on the desk, the TV was running. He still remembered us from the morning, so it took us only half an hour of explaining that we need a report from him. He made it clear that if we need we can type and print anything from his computer ourselves but there is no official stamp to put on the paper. We needed to go to a bigger police station for the report. The policeman copied his ID and we went outside to catch a car to the closest bigger city. I guess the officer felt bad for us and started stopping cars for us. 🙂
The bigger station felt more professional and in 5 min the report was in our hands. At least something accomplished! 🙂
We returned back to Tha Tong and rushed to the temple to ask if there were any news. Sadly nothing. As it was getting late, Sascha asked the monk about staying overnight, he told us wait for a while and made a call. In 15 min a minivan came where we were invited to proceed. We did not understand what was happening. The driver refused to talk to us and just drove us somewhere. Things were getting more and more interesting. We just observed. The van brought us to a retreat with a lot of bungalows around a small lake. The place was completely empty. We were given a separate bungalow or rather a small house with 2 rooms. No money. Sometimes we really wonder about the temples we see 🙂