For those of you who have known me for years and have walked along paths with me, you are aware that I have issues following crowds and taking a well marked path. This attitude towards life is repeatedly shown to me as a double-edge sword. Such a platitude has gifted me with astounding experiences. Equally so, it has bared the other edge and has offered up a huge heaping of 'oh shit' moments in my life. As such, I have built up a resistance to life's…surprises. This is not to say that I cannot be taken aback by something, I can. It means I've learned not to expect what I think I should. If that makes any sense…basically, for my ODO people, I'm talking about Iceberg.
Anyway, philosophical discussions aside, last weekend was a demonstration of not following a beaten path and being all the better for it. I mentioned in a previous post that many things in Thailand are hiding. There's no signs, there's no indications of what is around the next corner. In short, everything is worthy of exploration. The phrase, "Leave no road untravelled." most certainly rings a bell in this country. As I was roaming about the countryside I came across some really awesome things that simply aren't marked. Now obviously the locals in the area know about them, so why mark them? But, as foreigner, these are simply amazing things.
The first is the border market between Thailand and Malaysia. As I mentioned, I can see Malaysia from my backyard. This was not an exaggeration, is it truly ten minutes from my doorstep. This little gem of a market though is set, like many things here, on a back road tucked between mountains and jungles on both sides.
This is the Border Market. A huge collection of tents and vendors selling what you would expect a market in the middle of a jungle to sell: shriveled heads, monkey paws, magic lamps and a fine collection of French-made pots and pans. Just to be practical, of course. Regrettably, I didn't find those things here. Instead I found friendly people, amazing food, and a cultural experience. Although I did almost buy a Swiss-made teapot. Very nice.
I would have ventured further, however the presence of heavily armed guards and numerous military checkpoints made me think better of it.
Baskets are most definitely a thing here. They can be found in all shapes and sizes, not to mention material. These lovely examples are made from strips of woven plastic. Recycled/Up-Cycled/Crafter's Wetdream. This is the refuse that is found on the side of roads, reclaimed and remade. You can also find the woven reed baskets that you'd expect, beaten from thrush and hand-dyed for etc. etc…but I found that this was a good example of peer Thai ingenuity. Also it has a fond place in my heart because my cute old lady neighbor also weaves these on her doorstep in the morning.
That will not be my first and only time at the border. Eventually expect more photos and some of the vendors. It's awkward taking photos when you don't speak the language and you are the only person with a super powered DSLR camera within roughly 80km.
Upon leaving the market, a decision was made to find a waterfall. It's Thailand right? Waterfalls must be everywhere. Actually yes. Yes they are. So are leeches. I will not subject you to how many latched onto my ankles nor how long they were there for (i.e long enough to make me freak out when I saw them). Simply know that when you come across a waterfall in the jungle…look before you leap.No matter how inciting that pool of water is, no matter if there's a bunch of Thai kids swimming in the water. There's leeches. Lots and lots of leeches…probably. But despite this little hitch in my plans, it's worth it.
It just goes to show; even if you don't speak the language and look completely different, everyone appreciates the crazy person who jumps in first.
To be continued…