The bus to Mae Hong Son supposed to depart from Mae Sariang 10.30 o’clock, the real depart took off one hour later. Once again winding and serpentine roads. 160 kilometres and an average speed about 35 km/h. In late afternoon I finally arrived to Mae Hong Son.
Since I already been here before one year ago, so I guess that I had some advantages, I knew the local conditions at least a little bit. Already when the bus entered the bus station, I noticed that there were only two tuk-tuk available. Despite that I was sitting in the rear end of the bus, I managed to get out rather quickly of the bus, grab my luggage relative quickly and finally get one of the two taxi’s. I must admit that I have to run the last 10 meters to get the taxi first. Later I checked in at the same guesthouse as last year.
I must say that the weather is a little bit special. I cannot recall, that the weather been so clear, I have not seen a single cloud for a week or so. Every time before, when I visit Northern Thailand, there has been a haze, a little bit grey and dizzy weather. I was told that the haze coming from the slash and burn agriculture. But now there are clear skies, day after day. Maybe that is why it is so cold in the mornings. Despite several visits here in Northern Thailand, I have never before been freezing. But now, every morning is freezing cold. According to the Thai Weather Service, the temperatures go down to 12 – 14 °C during the night and early morning. I really wish that I had my jacket, which I had when I left Sweden, but now in a deposit in Chiang Mai. On this day, the only full day that I have here in Mae Hong Son, I decided to go to a Chinese Koumintang village (KMT). The car, which took me to Mae Aw, was equipped with a GPS. When we left Mae Hong Son, I noticed that the GPS showed that we were 250 metres above sea level. 45 kilometres later, the altitude was 1100 metres above sea level. The KMT has an interesting history. They are all ancestors to Chinese soldiers who have to escape China after that Mao Ze Dong took over the power in 1948. While Chiang Kai Chek escaped to Formosa, now Taiwan, the soldiers in southern China loyal to him, have to escape to Burma and later to Thailand. Many KMT:s took an active part in cultivating and trading with opium. Another intriguing storey about Mae Aw, is the history about Khun Sa, a Chan-Burmese warlord, which had Mae Aw as a headquarter for some time during the 70:ies. Khun Sa started his career as a recruit in a American CIA backed-up project, to train, educate and finally equipped to fight against the North Vietnamese army inside Laos. Laos was during the whole Vietnam War, officially in peace, but in reality some of the fiercest fighting’s took off inside Laos. Later when the US did not any longer asked for Khun Sa’s services any more, he became his own warlord and he financed himself, by taking a big deal in the drug trade in the Golden Triangle. Khun Sa had many enemies also including the Thai army and police, but he was never caught.