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in Chiang Rai, a town I've grown to like, I found
my way to an especially nice guesthouse named Baan
Bua. My room here is clean and bright and only
costs 250 Baht a night, about $6.50. It doesn't
have air conditioning or a TV, but I don't need
them here. Even in mid-afternoon, it's not too hot
or humid. Evenings are comfortably cool.
my door is a pretty green courtyard with some tables &
chairs scattered around, accented by flowers and
broad-leafed plants. It's a pleasant, shady place to hang
out, tucked far back from the road's noisy motorbikes and
exhaust fumes - an amazingly quiet place considering its
owner, Brian, is an ex-pat Brit married to a Thai
woman. I think she's the legal owner of this
guesthouse because foreigners are not allowed to
own property in Thailand. Brian has been here 11
years and seems genuinely happy. In fact, the guy
positively bubbles with mirth most of the time. I
liked him the instant I met him.
evening I joined Brian for a beer in the courtyard.
With him was another Brit, a retired taxicab driver
named Graeme (pronounced gram). We got into
some lively discussions on a wide range of
subjects, from women to politics, eventually
adjourning to a not-yet-but-soon-to-be-open bar in
town belonging to another expatriated European
living here with his Thai wife, this fellow a tall,
blonde Dutchman who looked to be in his early 30's.
there when we arrived was yet another Brit with his Thai
girl friend, and also a jolly German policeman here on
holiday but planning to retire to Thailand in 7 years. His
Thai wife lives with him in Germany now. It was a fun crowd
and a happy evening. Eventually Graeme and I had dinner in
town and then more beer at Crazy Joe's bar, Crazy Joe being
a peculiar little man from Brooklyn who recently lost most
of his teeth in a motorcycle accident. His bar girl kept
sidling up to me, but I wasn't interested. By this time it
was pushing midnight, which is way past my usual bed time.
This bar was just around the corner from my guesthouse so I
had a short walk home under a full moon. Last I saw of
Graeme he was ordering another beer, the bar girl now seated
next to him. This morning I woke up late and,
happily, alone. That bar girl wasn't much to look at.
fun to meet all these Chiang Rai ex-pats living here with
their Thai women, seemingly happy and more or less
prosperous. I still don't feel this place is for me
long-term, but I can certainly see the appeal of it.