So we wanted to take a different route back to the main road. And we wanted to do this without knowing, exactly, the way to go. Annndddd with my phone being broken and Antonia’s phone not able to access maps without wi-fi. But Antonia was positive from looking at the map before, that she knew the right way to go. So off we went!
We had a super lovely morning waking up in the rice fields. Limited clouds allowed for beautiful sunlight to come shining through. Breakfast was a huge portion of egg fried rice and some sweet baked buns. After enjoying our morning we take off at 9:30am – that should give us plenty of time to get to the songthaew a bit earlier than 12pm (our new route would take us a few kilometers further down the main road, 1192). We think we’re going the right way, but to make sure, we ask a local village lady passing by. “Sawadee Krup! Ummm…Chom Thong this way?” pointing down the dirt road. “No, Mae Chaem,” and then pointing down the path we took yesterday “Chom Thong.” Hmmmmm, we think…nah this is the correct road, it just lands a little bit further from Chom Thong than the other road. Oh boy…
It starts out fantastic! As we wander to the other end, we receive wonderful views of the terraced rice fields! There are even some guesthouses on this side of the village (you can find all guest houses in my Ban Pa Bong Piang article). And now there are views on either side of us. We can hear rivers below us and begin to enter slightly denser villages with beautiful flower bushes, hibiscus flowers, star fruit trees, and papaya trees.
At one point we see a fork in the road. Left leads to a church of St. Patrick (that’s interesting – a church all the way out here?) and to the right continues the winding road to the unkown. Antonia remembers that the main road should eventually be to the left and we head to the church. I’m thinking that you don’t put signs at the ends of roads and they would probably build this big sign at whatever the main road is. I was looking forward to seeing the church in this nice village town, but luckily we come across a nice guy on a motorbike who points us back down that winding road.
Hmmmmm, there are more vehicles driving against our direction than following our direction, so….that’s probably a good thing; it probably means that the main road is from that direction since it’s busier traffic coming from that way (this is the kind of logic we had to start using to feel like maybe we were heading in the right direction). After an hour passes we are asking everyone we see, “Does this go to the main road – Mae Chaem -> Chom Tong?” pulling my hands from small to wide to somehow mimic a main road. At first we get some confused looks. One couple on a motorbike disagree: the woman shakes her head at us and points back the direction we came, the man looks like he is thinking hard and shakes his head at his wife – then he points in our direction and nods “Chom Thong”. “Ok…” we think, “I guess that’s good…?” with a big shrug of the shoulders.
As we get further and further along, we are getting more consistent fingers pointing in the same direction we’re trekking, and more consistent heads nodding “Chom Thong”. We’ve got to be getting close now…but the time is striking 11:00 -> 11:10 -> 11:15. The songthaew should be there around 11:30! If we miss that one we’ll have to wait 2 hours for the next – ugh!
We’ve surely walked 8km by now! I start waving at the few cars and trucks that drive past hoping to catch a ride, but no one understands or no one is willing – either way not many cars are stopping now. The sun is beating down, you can feel your skin cooking as soon as you leave the comfort of the shade. Now stress and tension are running high and I start playing the blame game. My thoughts show my stress clearly: “I knew we should have gone the other way. We knew exactly how to take that road.”, “Our shoes are already muddy anyway, it doesn’t matter if they get muddy again!”, “We don’t have a working map, why the hell did she think this was the right road to take. Arrgghhh!” Fortunately I had enough self-control and wisdom to keep 90% of these feelings to myself (but still working on eliminating these feelings to begin with 🙂 ). Besides, I partly wanted to take a new route as well and was looking for encouragement to ignore all of the reasons we shouldn’t.
Now, we have no idea where we are or where the hell this road is leading us. The only thing we are both confident in is that this is not the road we thought it was. And who knows where it’s taking us. 11:30 passes, and it’s nearing 12pm when, finally, in another village town, a kind woman driving a black truck pulls over to ask where we’re headed. We let her know and she points to the back of the pickup. “Phew! Thank goodness,” we’re headed somewhere promising for once! About another kilometer later we hit the main road and she drops us off. WE MADE IT!!! Ok…now what?
We walked nearly 2.5 hours with our bags (a bigger deal for double-bag Antonia!) and we’re enjoying this little break in the shade. There’s even a little restaurant and convenience shop so we’re able to buy some snacks. The next songthaew probably won’t be here for another 1.5 hours so it’s time to hold out our thumbs and see what happens. It only took about 5 trucks before an incredible family driving a dark blue truck added us as cargo 🙂 A husband and wife as father and mother to a beautiful ~8 year-old-girl. Hopping into the truck bed, we take off again.
Turns out we were absolutely no where near where we wanted to be! Not even on the main road, 1192, but on the north side of when 1192 ends :O After a brief drive, we take a left turn onto 1192 and the sign post reads “Chom Thong – 60km”. That should only be about 30km – Where the heck did we go? No matter, it’s like we’re in a convertible back here. The wind in our hair, the fresh air in our lungs, and the gorgeous mountain views surrounding us. They drive us nearly 40km before turning off. With massive smiles, they hand us a delicious sugar free nut-bar (looks like it might be made by them, it’s nothing I’ve seen in Thailand before) and wave good-bye.
Not even 5 minutes later, our thumbs attract the attention of a red truck. A father and son driving to Chom Thong with a full load in their truck bed, so he moves boxes and things out of the way so we can squeeze into the back seat. He even put one of Antonia’s bags in the front seat where his ~5-year-old son sits. He’s got some cool Thai rock music playing with band names like Blackheads, Fat Ass, and Paradox. The little boy is playing peek-a-boo from behind his seat. And we give him a little pig we received a few days before at Wat Chom Thong. We get to highway 108, scooch out of the truck, give them some snacks as a thank you, and head to the bus stop where a yellow songthaew picks us up not 10 minutes later – finally getting back to Chiang Mai 6.5 hours later – about the same time we expected anyway. AND we saved 70baht each not taking the songthaew to Chom Tong 🙂